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Department of Linguistics

MA Theory and Practice of Translation (Asian and African Languages)

Duration: One calendar year (full-time), two or three years (part-time, daytime only)


Minimum Entry Requirements: Upper second class or above honours degree (or equivalent); fluency in the specified African or Asian language at least to the level of that imparted by a first degree in that language.

Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications are usually invited to interview.

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

The MA programme in Translation Theory and Practice (Asian and African Languages) combines training of practical translation skills with teaching of translation theories. It is unique in terms of the range of Asian/African language specializations and in collaborative teaching with University College London (SLAIS) and Imperial College. The aim of the programme is to enhance students' methodological and practical skills in translation, preparing them for the professional market as (freelance) translators or other language professionals, while providing an intellectual perspective on the discipline of translation studies, which could be the foundation for further MPhil/PhD research. Students have access to a wealth of resources for the study and practice of translation available in the SOAS Library and nearby institutions such as the University of London Library, the UCL Library, the British Library, as well as the BBC World Service and many others.


Drawing on the expertise of highly qualified teachers and researchers at SOAS, the programme offers a range of languages to work with, including

  • Arabic 
  • Chinese, 
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Persian
  • Swahili 


The programme may be taken over 12 months full-time, 24 months two-year part time, or 36 months three-year part time. The MA consists of taught courses and a dissertation. The assessment of most of the taught courses includes a written examination paper or papers, taken in June. The dissertation, of 10,000 words, is due by 15 September of the year in which it is taken.

The marking guidelines for MA Theory and Practice of Translation Studies dissertations are different to those for other programmes. Please refer to this PDF document. Marking Criteria for MA Translation Dissertations (pdf; 66kb)


The MA consists of three taught courses (the half-unit course Translation Theory and a one unit course or two half-unit courses of Practical Translation are compulsory) `and a 10,000- word dissertation on an approved topic.

Core Courses

All students must take:

All students must take the equivalent of one unit from this list.
Optional Courses

Students take the equivalent of 1.5 units from these lists.

Full Unit Optional Courses
Half Unit Optional Courses
MA Dissertation

The 10,000 word dissertation may take the form of a translation project (60%) with commentary (40%) or a theoretical discussion of translation grounded in an African or Asian language.

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the Programme will:

  • have competence in the practice of translation
  • be familiar with the major theories of translation
  • have some understanding of translation research and methods

Teaching Staff


Our graduates find employment both in the United Kingdom and around the world. They will work with:

  • Translation agencies
  • Multinational companies
  • International organizations
  • Education institutions

They can also pursue further MPhil/PhD research in translation studies at SOAS or other academic institutions.

A Student's Perspective

The MA in Advanced Chinese Studies is a programme unique in its comprehensive integration of Chinese-language materials with interdisciplinary studies of the history, society, and culture of China.