Thread poster: Anne Zielisch MCIL

Anne Zielisch MCIL
Local time: 10:19
English to German
May 19, 2006

I know it's been dicussed before, but still:

has anyone got any advice on the quality of translation courses (not interpreting) at postgrad. level in the UK, i.e. which universities would you recommend and which ones would you advise against? It's difficult to go by the common rankings (Guardian, Times etc.), since translation is such a specialised field that it is usually not considered. Or do you think that one can judge the quality of a translation course by the rating of other language departments? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

PS: I'm interested in the theoretical aspects - which is what universities are there for, I think. My direction is EN-DE.

East Anglia (Literary Transl.)


Alberto Orengo  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:19
English to Italian
+ ...
Masters May 20, 2006

Ok, you say theoretical aspects. Do you mean linguistics- based approaches of cultural issues?

I had to do your same choice 4ys ago. I chose Warwick, as I was particularly interested in cultural problems. But now increasing attention is being paid to the new translation scenarios, problems of localisation, multimedia translation etc. But as far as I know, most MA courses now offer a wide range of topics and all offer good programs ranging from cross-cultural issues, to multimedia, globalisation, and so on. What I suggest you is to look at translation departments websites and just focus on what you want. Just one thing, small department doesn't mean bad, big department doesn't mean necessarily good. To make it short, don't look too much at names but at programs.


Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:19
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
UCL and Imperial May 20, 2006

I can only speak for courses at the two universities in my title -- I did an M.A. in Translation Studies at UCL 5 years ago, followed immediately by an M.Sc. in Technical Translation at Imperial 4 years ago. I suspect that things have changed a bit even since then, so you will need to check up, but for what it's worth, this is my experience:

The UCL course I did (in Scandinavian Studies) emphasised the theoretical and literary aspects (but did of course include plenty of translation exercises). It was very interesting and stimulating, but was, shall we say, academic rather than vocational. At that time there was hardly any mention of the range of translation tools available, though I believe that has since changed.

The Imperial course naturally focused on Imperial's strengths in science and medicine, and included a large dose of technical translation, both in terms of translation exercises (patents etc) and translation tools, notably Translation Memory. In purely vocational terms, it was a better introduction to earning a living as a freelance translator. The course certainly included translation theory, but less than at UCL.

AT UCL, the first translation I did was a poem. At Imperial, it was a user guide for a food mixer. That neatly, if crudely, sums up the difference between the two courses. It also makes the point that there is a significant difference at the postgraduate level between Translation Studies and Translation.

A difficult choice. Hope this helps you decide.


Anne Zielisch MCIL
Local time: 10:19
English to German
Thanks a lot. May 21, 2006

I suppose in terms of reputation they are both equal, i.e. very good? What counts more in the world out there: the reputation of the university as a whole or the quality of individual departments? I'm still a little confused when it comes to judging courses in that respect.


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