MA/Diploma in Translation

The MA in Translation is a qualification which will facilitate your entry into the translating profession. It is also suitable for practising translators who do not have, but wish to gain, formal qualifications.

It is an e-learning programme, which draws upon the faculty's considerable expertise in distance-learning technology. Studying interactively as part of an online group is particularly appropriate for this qualification, as it both prepares you for, and models, the working practices of professional translators. Each unit of the course has a dedicated site, accessed through the University website. Each site is divided into sections allowing tutors to post details of the work programme and assignments, learning materials, bibliographical advice, web links, etc. There is also a discussion forum where you post your work and discuss the various topics with the other members of the group and the tutor, much as you would in a face-to-face seminar.

We combine language-specific practice, in either one or two languages in addition to English, where we aim to help you to build effective translation strategies, with a general theoretical grounding on translation practice.

Once you have completed the taught element of the programme (which qualifies you for a diploma) you will either undertake a substantial annotated translation of a previously untranslated text, or a dissertation on an aspect of literary translation or translation theory. Successful completion of the translation or dissertation upgrades your qualification to an MA.

The University of Bristol is a corporate member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and an institutional member of the American Translators Association. The MA in Translation is an applicant programme to the European Masters in Translation network.


The course is delivered through the Blackboard virtual learning environment. You will study interactively, as part of an online group, led by a tutor. Take a tour of Blackboard to find out more about how we support you during the course.

Structure overview

The MA starts in October each year, and runs for 12 months for full-time students, and 36 months for part-time students. For full-time students, the taught component comprises six 20-credit units which are taught over two teaching blocks. The dissertation, which may be an extended translation, is written over the summer and submitted in September. Part-time students generally stagger their options across two years, and write the dissertation during their third and final year.

Programme specification (PDF, 194kB)

Single-language translators

If you decide to offer only one language other than English, you will take the following units:

One each of the following:

And three of the following:

Dual-language translators

Students offering two languages alongside English will take the following mandatory unit:

  • Theory of Translation 1

One each of:

  • Applied Translation
  • Introduction to Specialised Translation

A further three units from the following:

A maximum of two further Applied Translation or Introduction to Specialised Translation units

  • Computer-Aided Translation
  • The Translation Industry
  • Theories of Translation 2
  • Supervised Individual Study

On successful completion of the six units comprising the taught part of the course, you undertake either a dissertation, or an extended translation into English.


The dissertation is produced independently, and is a piece of original research, which must involve the use of primary sources.  You will work closely with an adviser, but the dissertation has to be your work, reflecting your intellectual capacities and research skills. 

Extended translation

The extended translation option for the dissertation is designed both as a test of your translation skills and of your ability to analyse and reflect on the challenges that face the translator. It also allows you to show how creative a translator can be. If you decide to choose this route, you normally need to identify a text that has not yet been translated. You may choose to translate from or into English.

If you choose a prose text, it will normally need to be between 8,000 and 10,000 words in total. In addition to the translation itself, you will need to provide a theoretical framework, analysing your source text, explaining your strategy in translating, and commenting on the difficulties you have encountered. The text that you propose must, therefore, allow you to discuss some of the toughest challenges a translator has to face; your choice should accordingly give rise to problems such as, for example, difficult linguistic or cultural transfer (translation of dialect; humour; metaphor; culture-specific concepts etc). For that reason, a literary text can be a very good choice (as well as fun!), but so, too, can tourist literature or marketing materials.

Tutor team

You have a tutor for each study unit. Interactive group discussion, facilitated by the tutor, is a vital part of the learning process; the course is not designed as a one-to-one correspondence course. You may also contact a tutor individually by email or arrange a telephone appointment if you need to discuss personal issues or need confidential advice and guidance. The Programme Director is also there to support you by email or telephone.

For further information about the course, please contact the Programme Director, Dr Carol O’Sullivan.

Further details, key facts, fees and application information is available on our online prospectus pages for this course.

Course prospectus

Students in the Graduate School

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The online nature of the course was one of the main reasons for my choice. Living in a rural area, it would be impossible for me to physically attend...

Anna, MA Translation/German

The University of Bristol is a corporate member of the Institute of Tranlation and Interpreting.

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