CIUTI logo

CIUTI logo

Founded in 1970, the Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies specialises in the fields of translation and interpreting studies, as well as (inter)cultural studies such as living cultural heritage, language policy and intercultural communication.

The Department is one of only four UK university departments that have been granted membership of CIUTI, an international body which brings together universities which specialise in translating and interpreter training.The Department is also a Higher Education Language Partner with the UK Chartered Institute of Linguists (, which is the leading UK-based membership body for language professionals. 

The Department also includes two research centres that reflect our specialisations: the Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) and the Intercultural Research Centre.

Our core purpose is two-fold:

  1. To create multilingual, multicultural, global, citizens
  2. To engage in high quality, internationally recognised research and teaching that sustains a challenging and rewarding learning experience for all our students and contributes to our impact with local, national and international organisations and communities.

Find our more about our aims.


We have a long history of providing undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that focus on the applied nature and professional use of language and communication skills, with a particular focus on interpreting and translating.  Across both our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes the portfolio of languages include Arabic, British Sign Language (BSL), Chinese (Mandarin), English for Academic Purposes, French, German, and Spanish. We were ranked 1st in Scotland for our languages teaching by the National Student Survey 2015. The Department also now offers courses and programmes in Cultural Studies which is a growing area of the Department's work.


Research focuses on our established and distinctive strengths of translation and interpretation, as well as building the emerging areas of living cultural heritage and language policy. Our research is structured into these four areas, which are supported by our two research centres:


In 2012 we invested over £700,000 to refurbish and develop our language learning and interpreting facilities for its students, modelling them on those used in the European Parliament.Our state-of-the-art facilities include:

  • four fully-equipped interpreting teaching labs
  • two language laboratories
  • self-study laboratory
  • computer labs
  • audio-visual teaching equipment
  • facilities for closed-circuit television
  • satellite broadcasting reception
  • recording studio

A special collection of monolingual and multilingual dictionaries, covering a wide range of specialised subjects, is located in the Dictionaries Room in the University Library.


Languages and Intercultural Studies

League Table Heriot-Watt ranking
National Student Survey 2016 2nd in Scotland 6th in UK
The Guardian University Guide 2017 3rd in Scotland 27th in UK
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016 4th equal Scot/31st UK (French) 3rd Scot/24th  UK (German) 5th Scot/33rd UK (Spanish)
The Complete University Guide 2017 5th Scotland /29th UK (French) 4th Scotland /25th UK (German) 5th Scotland /32nd UK (Spanish)