The course

Full-time, Part-time, Per course
Course type
Entry date

Our MSc Interpreting course is one of the flagship masters degrees in Heriot-Watt’s suite of interpreting and translating postgraduate courses. It stands alone as the most established and highly-respected interpreting course of its kind in Scotland.



Taught by linguistics experts from the fields of interpreting practice, research and education, this masters degree in Interpreting is designed for those who have native / near-native command of English and one other language from French, German or Spanish.

Giving you access to our newly-refurbished interpreting booths which are modelled on those used by the United Nations and European Union, this programme is designed for those who want to work as professional interpreters and will give you expertise to use in a range of contexts including, conference interpreting, health-care interpreting, legal interpreting and educational interpreting.

This practical interpreting course includes around 15 hours of academic contact per week in our language labs and weekly mini-conferences where up to 5 languages are spoken by around 20 – 30 students and teachers.

Language Labs

Our Language Labs have been recently refurbished and are the biggest owned by any Higher Education Institute in Europe. With the MSc Interpreting course, you’ll also be able to take advantage of our excellent translation and interpreting facilities – including state-of-the-art laboratories, digital resources, and a range of software packages.  

Language combinations

In the practical translating and interpreting courses students opt for one of two ‘strands’, corresponding to their chosen languages:

Strand A

Study of English + one other language from French, German or Spanish. Students work in both directions between the two languages chosen.

Strand B

Study of English + two foreign languages from French, German, Spanish, Arabic or Chinese. Students on this strand work from the two chosen languages into English.

Programme duration

  • Full-time: 12 months/9 months (MSc/PG Diploma)
  • Part-time: 24 months/21 months  (MSc/PG Diploma)

Professional recognition

Heriot-Watt University is a member of Conférence Internationale permanente d’Instituts Universitaires de Traducteurs et Interprètes (CIUTI) which is an inter­na­tional asso­ci­a­tion of uni­ver­sity insti­tutes with trans­la­tion and interpre­tation pro­grammes. CIUTI is ded­i­cated to excel­lence in the training and research of both trans­la­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion. Mem­ber­ship of CIUTI requires ful­filment of strict qual­ity cri­te­ria and is a dis­tinct seal of quality.

Course content

   Detailed course guide
Semester 1 (Sep - Dec) Semester 2 (Jan - May)
Applied Professional Skills for Conference Interpreters Conference Interpreting
Liaison and Public Service Interpreting Liaison Interpreting for Business
  Translation & Interpreting Studies

Two from a range including:

  • Translation Technologies
  • Business Communication
  • International Politics
  • Intercultural Communication in the Workplace
  • Cross-cultural Perspectives on Society
  • Global Heritage
  • Beginner language courses in French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language, Gaelic

One from a range including:

  • Subtitling
  • Localisation & Technical Writing
  • Intercultural Perspectives on Sustainable Development
  • Project Management
  • Beginner language courses in French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language, Gaelic

Students who progress to the MSc then complete their dissertation, in an area relevant to Interpreting Studies, between May and August.

Guest speakers

Talks by guest speakers are an integral part of the MSc Interpreting programme.

They cover a wide range of subject areas related to translating and interpreting, including academic, research and practical issues such as working as a freelance interpreter and setting up a business.


Mini-conferences enable students to experience interpreting in a 'live' conference situation. Half of the students provide simultaneous and consecutive interpretation for speeches. The other half participate actively in the discussion in their mother tongue. In the second hour of the conference students change from being participants to working in the booth and vice-versa.

Applied Professional Skills for Conference Interpreters

Semester 1 (mandatory)

The course aims are to help learners develop mastery of the skills and techniques of conference interpreting (consecutive and simultaneous), including a number of key transferable skills such as public speaking, note-taking and oral summarising.

Liaison and Public Service Interpreting

Semester 1 (mandatory)

The course concentrates on introducing and developing the knowledge and skills required to become a competent professional liaison/bilateral interpreter working in general, business and public sector settings. Students will become familiar with the following styles of interpreting: liaison/bilateral interpreting (i.e. “two-way” interpreting mostly in consecutive mode), sight translation to support interpreting and chuchotage (whisper interpreting, in simultaneous mode).

Conference Interpreting

Semester 2 (mandatory)

Includes language-specific workshops to practise consecutive and simultaneous interpreting following a set programme of appropriate speeches as well as miniconferences at which students participate as speakers, as well as practise their simultaneous and consecutive interpreting.

Liaison Interpreting for Business

Semester 2 (mandatory)

The course continues to build professional liaison/bilateral interpreter skills for working in business settings. Students will become familiar with liaison/bilateral interpreting (i.e. “two-way” interpreting mostly in consecutive mode). Students will also reflect on preparation for the interpreting assignment; handling briefing and de-briefing; managing the interpreting situation (and aspects of interpersonal dynamics, in particular the implications of intercultural and interlingual issues).

Translation & Interpreting Studies

Semester 2 (mandatory)

The course covers the major theoretical areas in Translation & Interpreting Studies, as well as various models of text processing and translating and interpreting. The course also looks at the relevance and applicability of this to the practical concerns of the translator/interpreter.