The course

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Heriot-Watt University’s Two-Year MSc in Chinese – English Translating provides students with 2 years of professional training in the skills and techniques used by professional translators and sufficient time to develop language abilities and intercultural understanding.

Studying this 2-year masters degree in translation will allow you to immerse yourself in a new culture and lift your language and IT literacy to a high standard, helping you become a professional translator.

The first year (Stage 1) of the degree will equip you with a solid, theoretical and practical foundation in translating. Stage 1 includes 2 courses in Research Preparation (English Study Skills), which means you will improve your English language abilities whilst gaining introductory translation skills. The second year (Stage 2) is the same as our one-year MSc degree in Translating which equips students with the professional standard translating abilities.

As part of the most established suite of Interpreting and Translating masters degrees in Scotland, graduates from this 2-Year Chinese – English programme will be recognised by industry has having achieved a high level of expertise and knowledge. 

It is taught through a variety of traditional and innovative approaches, making use of Heriot-Watt University’s state-of-the-art translation technology, sector-leading intercultural research, links to industry and authentic materials.

With an entry requirement of 6.0 IELTS overall, this two-year degree allows you to begin from a less advanced position than the one-year degree but the benefits of an extra year of learning on our translating programme are huge.

The extra year of high-quality learning will improve your language ability and introduce key professional skills. Over two years you will bring your language skills up to an advanced level and immerse yourself in two fascinating cultures whilst becoming familiar with the demands and delights of British university life.

You will also have an extra year to prepare for professional life as a translator and develop deep-rooted academic and professional expertise.

In Year 1 you will have the chance to gain introductory experience to professional standard technology by selecting an optional course in Computer Aided Translation (CAT) software and in Year 2 you will master these professional tools and techniques as your training in our state-of-the-art translation labs progresses to a weekly basis.

Over the course of two years, your learning will focus on developing expertise in key areas of translation such as:

  • Technical and scientific translation
  • Subtitling and audio-visual translation
  • Use of Computer Aided Translation tools
  • Sight translation

You will learn about how to implement different approaches to translating when working in different professional contexts, and you will become increasingly confident in your interactions with clients and fellow professionals. We will bring your transferable communication skills such as public speaking, note-taking, revising and editing, and summarising to a high standard. 

Professional experience in everyday learning

Heriot-Watt University offers the ideal setting for you to develop your translation skills thanks to our state-of-the-art language labs.

Our facilities allow you to put your theoretical knowledge of language and culture into practice and develop crucial real-world technical experience with industry-standard software such as TRADOS, a computer aided translation memory tool and WinCAPS, the professional subtitling tool.

Mastering these tools is essential for modern translators and through this two-year masters degree you will have plenty of opportunity to do so.

A student-centred approach to learning

We take a student-centred approach to teaching and learning and allow you to develop your knowledge and skills through a blend of lectures, communicative tutorials, language laboratory sessions, and group work as well as one-to-one interaction with peers and tutors

We also offer native Chinese speakers on our Chinese – English MSc programmes the opportunity to take part in innovative tandem languages exchanges with non-native Chinese speakers on our undergraduate Chinese-languages programmes. This gives students on this programme the chance to improve their English language skills, discuss assignments, share insights in language & culture, and gain teaching experience.

Confucius Institute for Business and Communication: Social and cultural events

Heriot-Watt University is highly-regarded in China and was recently awarded the ‘Outstanding Strategic Partner’ Award by the Chinese Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE), thanks to our close links to some of China’s top universities.

We are also home to the Scottish Confucius Institute for Business and Communication, an Institute dedicated to promoting educational, economic and cultural links between Scotland and China.

The Confucius Institute helps to strengthen the understanding and cultural links between China and Scotland by offering a year-round programme of activities including language classes, cultural seminars, exhibitions and performances.

Many of these events are centred on traditional Chinese celebrations including Dragon Boat Festival, Lantern Festival, Moon Festival, and a major Chinese New Year celebration performance. Classes are offered in Chinese painting, calligraphy and Taichi whilst a programme of business related seminars, including management of tourism and cultural heritage is held throughout the year.

Academic Profiles

Dr Michelle Min-Hsiu

Dr Michelle Min-Hsiu Liao is an assistant professor of the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies. She holds a PhD in Translation Studies from Heriot-Watt University, and a master degree in Interpreter Training from University of Geneva. She joined the department in 2004, and was one of the founders of the MSc Chinese-English Translation and Interpreting programme at Heriot-Watt University. Since then, she has taught a range of courses: translation and interpreting studies, English-Chinese translation practices, conference interpreting, public service interpreting, business liaison interpreting, and undergraduate Chinese courses. She has also practiced translation and interpreting in a range of sectors including education, culture, public service, and business.

Dr. Liao is an active researcher. Her research interests lie in the application of discourse and narrative analysis in translation. She has investigated the translation of popular science as a new genre in Chinese, and her recent projects explore the political and multimodal features of translations in museum exhibitions. Her studies have been published in a range of interdisciplinary journals such as The Translators, Journal of Specialised Translation, Translation Spaces, Museum and Society, Tourism Management, East Asian Journal of Popular Culture; she has also contributed to Handbook of Translation Studies and Encyclopedia of Practical Translation and Interpreting. She supervises MSc dissertations and PhD theses in translation & interpreting and intercultural studies.   

Mr Kester Newill

Mr. Kester Newill is an assistant professor of the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies and Co-Programme Leader for Chinese - English Translating (2 Years) . He holds a master’s degree in Chinese Business and International Relations from the University of Sheffield and worked for several years in language teaching, teacher training and NGO voluntary and project management roles in China. He joined the department in 2010, and has taught a range of courses: Chinese-English translation practice, conference interpreting, public service interpreting, business liaison interpreting, and undergraduate Chinese courses.

The translation and interpreting experiences he gained during his time in China have informed his teaching practices. He has a particular interest in digital innovation in education, and has delivered conference presentations on using digital tools to enhance the learning experience of trainee interpreters. He led on the development of the two-year postgraduate Chinese translation and interpreting programmes, in order to widen access and provide dedicated academic support to students from diverse backgrounds.

Detailed course information

Course content

Detailed course guide

Year 1 (Semester 1) 

Interpreting and Translating Skills (1)

Semester 1 (mandatory)

This course will begin to develop your Interpreting and Translating professional skills. You will learn to produce translations of complex texts from Chinese into English and vice versa and learn to produce summaries from Chinese into English. You will enhance your presentation and communication skills in both languages and bring your consecutive and liaison interpreting skills to a professional standard whilst improving your skills in simultaneous interpreting.

Research Preparation (1)

Semester 1 (mandatory)

On this course you will design and carry out your own research project on a topic related to the field of interpreting and translating. You will learn how to take a critical view on academic texts in English or Chinese and learn how to identify a research topic and sources of information. You will develop transferable skills such as analysis, critical thinking, source evaluation and effective presentation.

Translation Technologies for Professional Translators

Semester 1 (mandatory)

The course aims to provide students with a thorough introduction to SDL Trados Studio, the market-leading computer assisted translation tool, complemented with a wide range of technological resources currently used by professional translators. This course will enable students to undertake a computer-assisted translation project individually and to work in small teams on a computer-assisted translation project. Students will also learn to use online resources efficiently for documentation and research purposes. The overarching course aim is to provide students with a useful professional skill and to reflect on translation as a technology-based profession.

Applied Linguistics

Semester 1 (mandatory)

This course will introduce you to an understanding of second language acquisition and its relationships to language teaching and linguistics. It will foster awareness of the nature of language knowledge, acquaint you with with recent trends in the field, and raise your awareness of social and psycholinguistic issues within multilingualism.

Year 1 (Semester 2)

Interpreting and Translation Skills (2)

Semester 2 (mandatory)

You will continue to develop the skills necessary to thrive as a professional interpreter and translator. Producing translations from complex texts, you will master specific problems in translations such as metaphor and improve your summarising skills. You will also master the use of specialist translation software. You will learn how to manage exchanges between people of different languages and cultures and improve your conference, simultaneous and liaison interpreting skills to a professional standard. You will take part in weekly mini-conferences and the multi-lingual debate.

Research Preparation (2)

Semester 2 (mandatory)

On this course you will design and carry out your own research project in a topic related to the field of interpreting and translating. You will learn how to take a critical view on academic texts in English or Chinese and learn how to identify a research topic and sources of information. You will develop transferable skills such as analysis, critical thinking, evaluating sources and effective presentation.

Sustainable Development and the Intercultural Context

Semester 2 (mandatory)

This course focuses attention on economic and environmental issues in various contexts, using applied anthropological approaches to explore the implications of these issues for individuals, minorities, majorities, institutions and intercultural relations. The importance of intercultural understanding in addressing practical problems is emphasized. Case studies from different regions and ethnographic fields are a fundamental feature, enabling discussion of the different issues. Students will study contemporary social and economic projects in various settings and are encouraged to use anthropological methods and theories in addressing practical issues.

Applied Linguistics (2)

Semester 2 (mandatory)

This course will build on the knowledge gained in Applied Linguistics 1.  

Year 2 (Semester 1)

Translation Practice (1)

Semester 1 (mandatory)

This course develops mastery of skills and techniques for translating between Chinese and English (and vice versa) to professional standards. You will study of a number of text types and genres and practice translating these.

Translation Technologies

Semester 1 (mandatory)

This course allows students to master the use of technology that characterises the translation industry today. It gives students the opportunity to undertake independent research with the aid of a computer-aided translation (CAT) tool, and CAT projects both individually and as part of a team. Software programmes used in the course include a range of CAT tools, terminology management software and machine translation tools. The course also examines the practical application and integration of these software programmes and tools in real-world professional workflows, situations and paradigms.

Year 2 (Semester 2)

Translation Practice (2)

Semester 2 (mandatory)

This course offers further development and practise of the skills and techniques of translating between Chinese and English to professional standards.  You will continue to study a number of advanced text types and genres and practice translating these text types and genres.

Translation and Interpreting Studies

Semester 2 (mandatory)

The aim of the course is to develop in learners a critical awareness and understanding of key areas of discourse, communication, and translation and interpreting theory, and of their relevance and applicability to the practical concerns of the translator/interpreter.

Year 2 optional courses

In Year 2 you will complete 3 mandatory courses, 5 optional courses and a dissertation project.

Optional courses Year 2 (some not listed):

  • Business Communication
  • International Politics
  • Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Society
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Global Heritage
  • Liaison & Public Service Interpreting
  • Liaison Interpreting for Business
  • Project Management
  • Intercultural Perspectives on Sustainable Development

Entry requirements

A degree (including associate or bachelors degree from a Chinese HEI) or MSc degree or equivalent, with sufficient language skills to meet the prerequisites for courses in Stage 1 of the Programme.

English language requirements

We may require additional evidence of sufficient English Language ability if the applicant’s first language is not English and their first degree was not taught in English. For Stage 1, the minimum requirement for English Language would be IELTS 6.0 overall, with no component lower than IELTS 5.5).


Additional fees information

2019/20 tution fees for this programme will be published shortly.

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate taught scholarships.