Your questions answered – Translation and Interpreting

Before studying for a Translation and Interpreting masters, you probably have a few questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about our programmes.

When is the deadline for applying for the next coming academic cycle? 

Most of our postgraduate courses have a deadline of 22nd July.  We recommend you apply as early as you can, especially for Translation and Interpreting programmes, in order to allow enough time to reach the required IELTS and take an aptitude test if necessary. Please check the website frequently to keep up to date with application deadlines and places.

Why can’t I do a pre-sessional English course before starting a CTS programme?

To be eligible for the aptitude test, students must have an IELTS that meets our requirements or is just 0.5 below in just one category.

Taking a pre-sessional course would mean it would then be too late to take an aptitude test. If a student has an IELTS that is just 0.5 below in one category and they pass the aptitude test, they can then take the 5 week pre-sessional course, as they have already passed the aptitude test.

How can I find out if my CTS pathway will run this year?

Each year we can only run languages subject to demand for them, as we need a few applicants to make a group for each language pair. This can only be finally decided in the Summer preceding the start of term, usually by mid-August.

How much of my time will be spent in lectures and seminars?

Most of our modules are two-hours long. Full-time students normally take four modules in semester one and four in semester two. Additionally, there are a few compulsory seminars during the academic year.

How much time should I spend working independently/studying?

The majority of your time in this degree course will be spent on independent learning activities. For each module, you should spend about 120 hours working and studying independently.

What modules will I study?

We offer a mix or foundation and practical modules to prepare you to become a professional translator/interpreter, as well as a number of optional modules that allow you to customize your learning experience.

Can you provide any details of the MA Translation and Interpreting timetable?

Depending on the number of optional modules taken each semester, you may have between 7-12 hours per week in semester 1 and 5-10 hours per week in semester 2. These can be spread across any days of the week, so you would have at least 4 days at university, possibly five (depending on when classes take place). We would expect half of this for a part-time programme.

How much teaching time do we receive from Dr Kevin Lin on the MA Interpreting (Chinese Pathway)?

Dr Kevin Lin and his team will teach the core modules, including Consecutive Interpreting and Simultaneous Interpreting on this programme. Dr Lin oversees the programme by teaching further at critical stages of study, checking upon students’ progress and making changes to the teaching schedule when necessary. Each of Dr Lin’s team members that teach on this programme have been interpreters themselves. Some of them have interpreted for the Royal family, former Prime Ministers and Nobel Laureates to name a few.

Do I have to do a dissertation and can I decide my dissertation topic?

Our MA students do a practice-based or topic-based dissertation. Students can choose their own topics and working languages, or work on topics that link to CTS research. Students who do not wish to write a dissertation will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma. All students will be supported by the academic staff, whether they do a dissertation or diploma.

How much is the dissertation worth and how long do I have to write it?

The dissertation is worth 60 credits, and you will write it between June and September, after the teaching semester is over.

Do any of the programmes offer placement opportunities?

The Centre for Translation Studies has a network of contacts in the language industry that you can utilise when applying for optional internships for agreed fixed periods during your MA.

We mentor all students in the development of professional engagement portfolios, so they can plan and participate in a range of extra-curricular professional development activities during their studies.

What companies/organisations can I go to for placement?

We have established collaboration on multilingual translation projects with a local museum, Guildford County Council and the International Student Recruitment Office at the University of Surrey, with students translating promotional material and website pages from English.

Students on the MA Interpreting Chinese Pathway have benefited from placements at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), where they practised simultaneous interpreting in a realistic UN-standard conference and had opportunities to be instructed by experienced staff interpreters.

We have also paired students up with local Language Service Providers so that they can experience working within the company on their premises or virtually. Interpreting students have provided linguistic and cultural support for families and members of staff at graduation, as well as during workshops and conferences taking place at University (e.g. a three-day event on Ethics and Healthcare). They have also performed during mock conferences and other events with external speakers (e.g. multilingual round tables and campus tours) and they have had the opportunity to shadow professional interpreters at multilingual events (e.g. hair shows, courtroom visits, etc).

Will the university find a placement for me?

We will help you to find a placement whenever possible, by pairing our students up with local Language Service Providers looking for particular language combinations or services. Near the end of the programme, we host a careers fair attended by local and global companies in the language industry, where you can network directly with potential employers.

What happens if I cannot find a placement and I am on a placement pathway?

Placements are encouraged, but they are entirely optional. Regardless of whether you decide to do a placement, you will receive help with building a professional engagement portfolio as you study.

What employment opportunities does a Translation/Interpreting masters from Surrey open up?

Our graduates have gone on to work in various sectors of the language-services industry all over the world. Traditionally, they have secured employment as translators, interpreters, project managers or vendor managers for translation/interpreting companies or other organisations supplying language services. Some have embarked on a career as in-house technical translators and localisation coordinators within financial and technology companies, as well as project managers and transcreation account executives within large translation and interpreting agencies.

Other students have set off on a career as freelance translators and interpreters, working for a range of important clients including media companies (CNN, Bloomberg),  international organizations like UNESCO, the foreign office and public bodies (e.g. NHS, the Royal Air Force) or other globally-operating organisations, such as banks or insurance companies working as translators, interpreters, revisers, terminologists etc. Some of them have even set up successful translation and interpreting companies and/or are involved in teaching translation/interpreting in Higher Education.

More recently, due to globalisation and the growth of digital economy, more varied roles have become available. Graduates can apply for jobs in creative industries, media, translation technology companies, language industry research companies, start-ups or established companies operating globally, where translation/interpreting skills are much needed.

What academic events take place?

Our Centre for Translation Studies hosts a series of initiatives outside regular classes to prepare you for employment in the language services industry and the wider employment market. For instance, our Translation Studies seminar series includes talks and practical workshops by external speakers who are invited to share their expertise with our students. Speakers include successful professional translators and interpreters, transcreation professionals, representatives from professional organisations, technology experts and Language Service Providers.


And here are some frequently asked questions about life at Surrey.

We hope you find this information useful. If you have any other questions, please get in touch with us by emailing

Author: Laura Cooper.