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Translation (BA)

  • Q910

3 years (full-time) / Options available Please contact the Admissions Tutor for details (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

Translation is crucial in today's globalised world. Multinational businesses and international institutions are constantly looking for translators and language specialists. BA Translation is both challenging and stimulating and enables you to build the skills required for a career in translation and a wide range of language-related professions.

As a three-year degree, this programme provides an alternative route to studying modern languages. You will be taught by staff with extensive experience in translation in a number of languages. You will choose a major language and a minor language and study professional and practical translation modules together with cultural modules from across the School. At present you may study French, German, Italian, Spanish and Welsh.

The translation modules include Translation Theory and Translation Methods as well as specialised translation and professional translation. The cultural options modules cover a wide range of subjects both country-specific and general e.g. European Cinema. The programme provides students with a solid grounding in language and culture plus practical translation skills to start a career as a professional translator or to enter a postgraduate degree programme.

Key Facts

UCAS Code Q910
Duration 3 years
How to apply
Typical places available The School of Modern Languages admits around 170 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes.
Typical applications received The School of Modern Languages = 630
Scholarships & Bursaries
Typical A-level offer ABB
Admissions Tutor Prof Gordon Cumming
Tel Number 029 2087 5590 / 029 2087 0824
Email address
School website

Year One

Alongside language classes in two languages (focusing on reading, speaking, listening and writing), you will begin practicing translation with dedicated practical seminars where you will learn to translate from your foreign languages into English.

You will also study translation theories and methods which will help you develop an understanding of the contexts and functions of translation. The idea here is to strengthen your linguistic and critical skills in a way that directly enhances your translation skills.

Year Two

You will specialise in the translation of different types of texts (technical, scientific, legal, administrative, cultural, media) and will be introduced to different translation software tools. You will also continue studying translation theories and reflect on important socio-political issues.

Among these, you will discover how translation can shape cultural and political relations between countries. For example, EU laws have to be translated into all 23 official languages of the EU before they come into force. You will also learn about the translators' dilemmas and their double allegiance towards their target audience but also towards the values fo the source culture.

Year Three

In the final year, we will explore the sociocultural dimension of translation and you will see how, in the context of today's global economy, languages and translation become political tools - in relation to minority cultures, multiculturalism but also situations of conflict and migration (see the work of the Cardiff Research Group on Politics of Translating).

While continuing to strengthen your linguistic and critical skills (with language and theory modules), we will also look at translation as a profession. A specialist module will introduce you to the different institutional contexts you may encounter in your future careers (government, media, multinational business) and through a series of case studies and real-life problems, we will develop your problem-solving skills but also alert you to some of the real challenges of the translation profession (time-management, managing resources, establishing and maintaining networks).

Option modules – Years Two and Three

The list of modules below is indicative only and modules may vary from year to year.

Lectures provide a broad structure for each subject, introduce key concepts, and convey relevant up-to-date information. These are outlined in course syllabi.

Seminars provide an opportunity to ask questions and discuss key ideas in a small group environment. Their purpose is to assist you to integrate the information and ideas you receive from lectures and readings and to explore issues critically and in depth. Seminars are kept small and usually average between 12-15 students. This is designed to give you ample opportunity to participate and to provide close contact between you and members of the academic staff.

Different seminar formats are used. Set questions and readings form the basis for discussion by directing your attention to relevant aspects of the subject matter and to various types of sources of information. Giving presentations develops your capacity to gather, organise and synthesise relevant information and ideas and to communicate these in a logical and concise manner. Tutor-led and student-led discussion hones logical skills and gives you practice in applying different concepts, theories and methods to the subject-matter at hand. It also exposes you to different interpretations of political ideas and events. Group problem-solving helps to develop collaborative skills.

Essays and examinations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing your capacities to gather, organise, evaluate and deploy relevant information and ideas from a variety of sources in reasoned arguments. Prior advice and written feedback (for essays) are used to help you understand what is required.

Dissertation: The optional final-year dissertation provides you with the opportunity to investigate a specific topic of interest to you in depth and thereby develop your capacities to apply different concepts, theories and methods to the analysis of political questions; acquire detailed knowledge about a particular area of politics; use your initiative in the collection and presentation of material; and present a clear, cogent argument and draw appropriate conclusions.

Pastoral Care You will be allocated a personal tutor for the entire period you are at the University. Personal tutors are members of the academic staff who are available to students seeking advice, guidance and help.

Typical A-level Offer ABB including a B in the relevant major language at A level
Typical WBQ Offer Either A (relevant language) BC at A2 level OR A (relevant language) B at A2 level and pass in the Welsh Bacc
Typical Int Bacc Offer Considered on individual merit

Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here

Please find here further information about admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme.

Modern language degrees provide students with a range of communication and intercultural skills. Students are in high demand both for their cultural awareness and linguistic skills. Graduates in modern languages go on to further study and teaching but are also sought after in telecommunications, in international organisations and institutions, such as the charity sector and European bodies and agencies, and in public administration.

The diversity of careers in Modern Languages is testament to the range of linguistic, social and intellectual skills which are integral to modern language training and which are highly valued on the job market. Two very distinct language-related career areas are open for consideration – specialist language careers which revolve around the language concerned and secondly, careers which use language, whilst keeping their main focus on another skill/area of expertise.

In 2010, 57% of the School’s graduates were in employment within six months of graduation while a further 31% were engaged in further study.

The introduction of Translation into the School reflects the growing need for language-based careers and the growing profile of professional translation.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Ms Vicky Ucele (UG)  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 0824 

Fax: +44 (0)29 2087 4946 


School Website:

More information

School of Modern Languages