MA Translation in the UK - advice needed!
Thread poster: emily7747
emily7747
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
Jan 11, 2015

Hi,

I have been working as an in-house translator for just over a year now but only have a Bachelor's degree in languages and find that my lack of a Master's is holding me back. I would like to do my Master's in the UK but am unsure of the right university for me.

The areas I am considering are London (Westminster/UCL), Bath, Surrey and Exeter, so South rather than North, but I am open to other suggestions too. Does anyone have any experience with these universities/courses? I would like to go to a university with a good reputation, where I can expand on the skills I've already gained working as an in-house translator. Going to a "sociable" university is also important to me - I don't expect the Bachelor degree lifestyle and am aware of the huge workloads but I don't want to just go to classes and back home everyday, I want to have as pleasant an experience as possible.

I'm feeling drawn to London, as I already have a lot of friends there, but am worried about the financial aspect of living in the Big Smoke. I've also heard that there doesn't tend to be as much socialising in London universities as there's isn't really a campus atmosphere. Can anyone confirm/refute this?

To summarise, the important factors for me are:
- Location/quality of course
- Finances
- Social aspect of course/university

Another question - how old are translation Master students in general? I will be 26 when I start the course, but am I right in thinking that translation Master's attract people of all ages?

Thank you in advance to anyone who takes the time to answer! Any replies are much appreciated!!

Emily


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Georgia Morgan  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:19
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
City University? Jan 12, 2015

Why don't you do the Diploma in Translation instead of a Master's? I did the prep course at City University, London, which I thought was excellent (distance). Of course, if you want the whole social thing, this wouldn't suit you. But I can confirm that postgraduate courses in London are very different from being on campus. Most people just go to class and then home, I found. And rents are very expensive, of course. I would go for the Diploma. If you started now, you could do the 3 modules this calendar year and take the exam in January 2016 (exams are only once a year)

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Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:19
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My experience Jan 12, 2015

Hi Emily,

I did an MSc at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh when I was 24, so I can tell you a bit about my experience there. The majority of students were recent graduates but quite a few had been working for a few years, like me, and others were quite a bit older and looking for a career change or further training. I don't think you should worry about your age!

The social aspect you mention will depend on the course as much as the university/city, I think. At Heriot-Watt we were encouraged to work together on projects and assignments so we ended up spending quite a lot of time together outside class, which helps you get to know people.

I'm afraid I can't help with the specific courses you mention, although I think Bath would be a lovely place to live and from what I hear Exeter has a lovely university campus, if that's of any use!

All the best and good luck with your decision,

Becky.


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XXXphxxx  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:19
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Dip. Trans. Jan 12, 2015

I second Georgia's suggestion to do the Dip. Trans. I did mine at City University. It was an excellent course and had the advantage that I could do it while in full-time employment. Not only is it much cheaper than an M.A. but if you can combine it with employment, you will acquire industry experience that could be invaluable in pinning down a subject area you might want to end up specialising in.

ETA: You can of course do the Dip. Trans. by distance learning and therefore base yourself anywhere in the U.K.

[Edited at 2015-01-12 08:32 GMT]


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Carmen Swanwick-Roa  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:19
Member (2014)
Spanish to English
+ ...
University of Leeds? Jan 12, 2015

Hello Emily,

I did my MA in Applied Translation Studies at the University of Leeds as I'd heard it had a good reputation and was quite focused on the vocational side of things rather than just translation theory. I also now work part-time on the MA course, assisting on the CAT module, so I may be a little biased in my view!

The course is roughly about half theoretical and half practical, with modules on translation theory, CAT tools and specialised translation. There is a good mix of academics and freelancers working on the course, and there are talks from people working in translation nearly every week, which means students get a really good all-round insight into the translation industry. On the CAT module, students are assessed on "team projects", where they work in groups to see a translation project through from start to finish, with one student in the group acting as a project manager and the rest acting as freelance translators. For me, this was the most useful part of the course as it really prepares you for freelance work - I still use the invoice template that I created during this course!

Regarding the social side, Leeds is a fantastic city to live in, especially as a student, and there's plenty of opportunities to socialise with other students (unfortunately while I was studying for my MA I was working 25 hours a week in a kitchen to pay for it so I didn't get to enjoy that part as much as I'd hoped). The university is right next to the city centre which is handy for social events, and as you can imagine, Leeds is a much cheaper city to live, study and go out than London or other places in the South.

Students are generally aged between 22 (straight out of BA) and late 20s (a few years of work under their belt), but there are usually a few students in their 30s, 40s and older as well.

I don't know much about the universities you mentioned, but I know that Bath have good links with the translation department at the UN in Geneva and their students often get internships there, so if you're interested in working in that area then Bath could be worth looking at.

I hope that didn't seem like too much of an advert for Leeds! Good luck with your search.


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Hannah Keet  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:19
German to English
+ ...
Exeter Jan 12, 2015

Hi,

I did the MA Translation course at Exeter in 2010-11 and I highly recommend it. They teach you theory, translation techniques, and give you a realistic insight into the industry. The course size is quite small, and the age range when I was studying the course was very broad (one retired headteacher was taking the course).

I've also met people who studied MA Translation at Bath, all of whom spoke highly of the course!

If you want to know any specifics, feel free to message me.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:19
Member
Italian to English
University of Westminster Jan 13, 2015

Although I haven't done an MA, I did my BA at the University of Westminster, and from a teaching point of view (at least in undergraduate terms), I was impressed with the teaching overall. That said, I graduated in 1995 (gulp!), so we are talking twenty years ago!

It IS true that Westminster isn't a campus-based university, but if you want to experience London as a student then you would enjoy it, and there are opportunities to socialise in any case. Like some of the others here, I had to work to support myself while on the course, so didn't get to experience as much of the city as I wanted to.

Perhaps you could visit some of the universities you're considering? That would allow you to get a feel for the institutions and the cities where they're based.

Best of luck with your choice.


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jaschaumburg
French to English
+ ...
Swansea University Jan 13, 2015

I would also consider the MA program at Swansea University. It used to be called MA in Translation with Language Technology, but they have switched it to MA in Professional Translation. From what I can tell, the program appears similar to when I did it in 2010-2011.

The program was very diverse, both in terms of nationalities and ages. I was the only American. It was cheaper for me to attend for one year than do our typical two-year masters in the states.

We had very practical modules and I appreciated the CAT-focused curriculum. Our cohort was very sociable and we organized get-togethers at least once a month. I made Thanksgiving Dinner for them.

I held 2 part-time jobs for which I worked 12 hours/week, passed with distinction, and had a good deal of time for socializing (see above comment). I never had so much time for socializing with my BA. I am not sure whether it was because the MA program was so easy or if it was because I was accustomed to a more demanding program with my American BA.


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Nick Brisland, BA (Hons), AITI
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:19
Member (2013)
German to English
Bath... Jan 14, 2015

I did an undergraduate degree in Bath and can't recommend it highly enough.

- Location/quality of course
Bath is a beautiful city. In fact in that respect, I would say it beats London, Exeter and Sussex hands down - I feel so lucky to have lived there for three years. It's also a campus university, with (limited) on-site accommodation for masters students. Quality of course - I'm not sure about this one for certain, but an MA in interpreting and translating from Bath will pretty much guarantee you a job as an EU interpreter as so many former students have gone to work there - it's definitely got a lot of pedigree.

- Finances
When I briefly looked into doing a masters there, the costs were about £6000, but don't quote me on that. As for living costs, rent in the city will be about £350-£400 per month, assuming you rent in a house of four. Again though, don't quote me on that cos it can depend on a lot of things.

- Social aspect of course/university
Bath is also good in this respect. As I mentioned, it's a campus university, and there are several bars and cafes on site which offer good social opportunities. The campus is set in beautiful parkland and is definitely well-worth taking a wander round to take it all in. The city also offers many socialising opportunities in the shape of parks, tourist spots, bars and restaurants. The Student's Union is very active and was once voted the third best in the country, and the sports facilities are as good as those at Loughborough.

As far the courses, the MA in Translating and Professional Language Skills is, I believe as much about the business side of translating, and has very little to do with interpreting, whereas the MA in Interpreting and Translation is more about both. You'd have to check the Uni's website for detailed information, though.

Bath's a great uni with great facilities - you won't regret choosing it - good luck!


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emily7747
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jan 18, 2015

Thank you everyone, your answers have been really helpful! The new universities that have been suggested also sound interesting, I will definitely look into them!

Any further comments are still much appreciated

Emily


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