SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Introduction to Translation Theory

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 1

This module introduces the principle and theory of translation.

It covers the history of recent theoretical development in translation studies. It analyses the major concepts, issues and theories of translation in relation to its historical context. The course will also assist students making the connection between translation theories and practice to ensure effective use of the theories and to make an informed decision in translation activities.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with  key concepts, issues and theories of translation
  • Understand relationship between theory & practice
  • Demonstrate knowledge of historical development of translation theory
  • Demonstrate knowledge of translation profession
  • Apply concepts of translation principles and methods.


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial.

Scope and syllabus

  • Week 1 Introduction to translation theory
  • Week 2 Relationship of practice & translation theory
  • Week 3 Linguistics & Linguistic theory to translation  
  • Week 4 Equivalence as a conceptual and theoretical paradigm?
  • Week 5 Equivalence as an operational concept
  • Week 6 Reading week
  • Week 7 Text typology & translation 
  • Week 8 Functional theories (Skopostheorie/translatorial action/)
  • Week 9 Foreignisation & domestication as translation strategies
  • Week 10 Foreignisation & domestication as theoretical paradigm  
  • Week 11 Translation Quality Assessment – ethics, theory and practice

Method of assessment

  • Question Essay (1200 words) to be submitted in term 2 (40%)
  • Essay (2000 words) to be submitted in term 3 (60%)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

  • Baker, M. (1992) In other words – A coursebook on translation. London: Routledge.
  • Catford, I (1965) A Linguistic Theory of Translation. London: Oxford University Press
  • Munday, Jeremy (ed) (2001 and 2008) Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications, London: Routledge.
  • Newmark, P. (1986). Approaches to translation. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
  • Nida, E. A. (2003). The theory and practice of translation. Brill: Brill Academic Publishers.
  • Vermeer, Hans (1996) A Skopos Theory of Translation (Some arguments for and against). Heidelberg: TEXTconTEXT.
  • Venuti, L. (2008) The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation, London: Routledge

Additional Reading

  • Baker, M. (ed.) (1998) The Routledge Encyclopaedia of Translation Studies. London: Routledge.
  • Gentzler, Edwin (2001) Contemporary Translation Theories. London: Routledge.
  • Williams, Jenny & CHESTERMAN, Andrew. 2002. The Map, A Beginner' s Guide to Doing Research in Translation Studies. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules