Master in Translation - University of Bristol or Portsmouth?
Thread poster: Noralie

Noralie
Germany
French to German
+ ...
Nov 25, 2017

Hi everyone,

I am very new to this forum and have a question I need advice on. Maybe some of you out there may be able to help me out. I am planning to pursue a career in translation, with the languages German (my native language), French and English non-native, but I have lived and studied in the UK and in France). I am currently in the lucky (yet at the same time unfortunate) position of being accepted to two distance learning Masters programmes: the MA Translation of the University of Bristol, and the MA Translation Studies of the University of Portsmouth.

I have carefully studied the course structure of both programmes, which seem to be quite similar to each other. Here are my pros and cons so far:

Bristol
+ generally ranks higher in university league tables
+ all testimonies of previous students I have read so far were overwhelmingly positive
+ more thorough selection process
- upon asking whether it was possible to translate into my native language German, they specified that all translation work is be done into English (except for the dissertation)

Portsmouth
+ it is part of the EMT Network
+ it is slightly cheaper
- no direct answer from the faculty whether it is possible to translate into German (although I remember reading on a blog somewhere that translations are done in both directions - if true this would definitely be a plus!)

Being a novice in the translation world, I find it difficult to judge how to weigh these points (e.g. university reputation vs. being part of the EMT Network). Do you have any thoughts, or personal experiences to share? Which university would you recommend? And which one would best help me establish myself on the job market in Europe?

Thanks in advance for your input!


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:42
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
IMHO Nov 28, 2017

If you don't learn to translate into your native language, there's no point. There are plenty of native English speakers who can translate from French and German, so nobody will want a German to do either.

 

Rachel Musselle
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
Re: University of Portsmouth Dec 4, 2017

Hi Noralie,

I'm currently enrolled in the MA in Translation Studies at the University of Portsmouth (Spanish-English specialisation). I chose this course because according to my research, it offered more opportunities for practical translation work without forgetting about the theoretical side. I read that the Bristol course was more focused on theory than practice and I personally wanted to develop my translation skills as well as learn about the theory behind it. The course was also a lot cheaper than other courses but still had good reviews. I started another MA at the University of Birmingham which was just over 10,000 GBP. The course at Portsmouth is half the price and affordable. The course is also supposed to be 3 years part-time, but I asked if this could be done quicker, as the on-campus course is 2 years part-time, and was told that this is possible.

With regards to translation assignments, you are always assessed in your language pair (usually your native language). However, in our seminar group, we do often have to translate the other way (to our L2) but this is never, ever formally assessed.

I'm happy to answer any other questions you may have.

Rachel


 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 01:42
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
Bristol Dec 4, 2017

"All testimonies [...] were overwhelmingly positive".

Well, I'm over half-way through, and my testimony is definitely not overwhelmingly positive. Mixed, shall we say?

Regarding the comments on your native/non-native language (some of this has been discussed here before):
- a lot of the course content is of course transferable to any language pair: you should get as much out of the course as anyone else.
- but you will be at a disadvantage in terms of getting good marks as you'll be working in a foreign language; on the other hand the (many) non-native students working on my modules mostly seem excellent, so possibly not much of a disadvantage.

Have you considered the Open University?


 

Noralie
Germany
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Bristol or Portsmouth? Dec 4, 2017

Hey, thanks very much for your replies. How to hear from students studying at either university.

Mair, can you tell me what your criticisms are, and what you like about Bristol? Would you say that you get enough practical translation training?

Rachel, have you taken the Professional Aspects of Translation module? I think this may be quite a useful one but with the other modules, I would choose I would not have enough "spare optional credits" to take it - unless students are allowed to follow classes without getting credit for them (which I doubt)...


 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 01:42
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
responsive Dec 6, 2017

Hi Noralie

It's a remote course: for the most part, tutors provide pointers to textbooks (which I have to buy myself $$ or read online via the unpleasant library interface which keeps timing out), papers, etc and then questions for discussion. Depending on how interactive the peer group and the tutor are, this can come close to me thinking I might as well have saved my money on the UoB and just bought the books and read them alone. I've got some v good tutors and groups this term but last term was more mixed. There's also one supervisor who simply doesn't respond to email or on the forums (the course is supposed to mirror practical translation life: maybe this is a deliberate attempt to act like the unresponsive client or non-paying/disappearing customer?).

As for practical translation experience, I don't know - I've got plenty of ongoing work outside the course. The extended translation is next term's project.


 

cranium
French to English
+ ...
Not worth it Dec 6, 2017

I'll just tell you what I wish someone told me ten years ago. A master's degree in translation is a horrible waste of money. Check out salaries for your language pair in your area. The market is saturated, internet facilitates competition from emerging economies, and every spring there's a fresh wave of language graduates willing to accept lower rates to gain experience, without the business sense to realize what that means long-term.

 

Noralie
Germany
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Dec 15, 2017

Hi everyone, thanks again for all your help and input. I have taken a decision now, so no more info needed.

 


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