The course

Course type
Entry date

Heriot-Watt University’s 2-year MSc in Chinese–English interpreting and translating provides students with time to immerse themselves in a new culture and lift their language, interpreting and translating skills to a professional standard.


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As part of the most established suite of Interpreting and Translating masters degrees in Scotland, this 2-year Chinese – English degree programme offers a uniquely dual-focus.

This 2-year degree will prepare you for an exciting, international career as a professional translator and interpreter with specialist skills to use in distinct professional contexts such as healthcare, court and legal, educational and multi-lingual conferences.

Our globally recognised interpreting and translation masters programme has been tailored to meet the needs of industry and will allow you to develop the ideal balance of theoretical knowledge and practical skills in Chinese – English and English – Chinese Interpreting and Translating.

With a requirement of IELTS 6.0 overall, this programme allows you to begin from a less advanced position than the one-year programme but offers an extra year of high-quality learning which will improve your language ability and introduce professional skills.

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

The further benefits of an extra year of learning on our Interpreting and Translating programme are huge.

You will bring your language skills up to an advanced level whilst immersing yourself in two fascinating cultures and becoming familiar with the demands and delights of British university life.

You will also have with an extra year to prepare for professional life as an Interpreter and Translator. You will develop deep-rooted academic and professional expertise by training on weekly basis in our state-of-the-art interpreting booths and translation labs which are equipped with the latest computer aided translating software packages.

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

  • Technical and scientific translation
  • Subtitling and audio-visual translation
  • Use of Computer Aided Translation tools
  • Sight translation
  • Simultaneous interpreting
  • Consecutive interpreting and note taking
  • Sight translation

You will learn about how different approaches to interpreting and translating should be implemented when working in different professional contexts. You will become increasingly confident in your interactions with clients and fellow professionals and your transferable communication skills including public speaking, note-taking, revising and editing, and summarising will be sharpened to a professional standard. 

Professional experience through situated learning

Heriot-Watt University offers the ideal setting for you to bring your translation and interpreting skills to professional standard thanks to our state-of-the-art language labs and suite of simultaneous interpreting booths.

Our suite of interpreting booths has recently been refurbished to be modelled on those used by the United Nations, the European Parliament, European Commission, and the Scottish Parliament.

These 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 interpreters and through this two-year masters degree you will have plenty of opportunity to do so.

You will fine-tune your practical interpreting skills with around 15 hours of academic contact per week and weekly mini-conferences in our language labs where 20 – 30 students and teachers communicate in various languages including English and Chinese.

You will also have to chance to put your conference interpreting skills to the test in a professional situation at the Heriot-Watt University Annual Multilingual Debate: a formal debate between two multilingual teams which you will translate from Chinese into English for up to one thousands school-aged pupils from across the United Kingdom.

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 and 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.

Course content

Year 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 (mandotory)

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.

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. 

Applied Linguistics (2)

Semester 2 (mandatory)

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

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.

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. 

Year 2

Applied Professional Skills for Conference Interpreters

Semester 1 (mandatory)

This course will help you develop the mastery of the skills and techniques for conference interpreting (consecutive and simultaneous), and improve key transferable skills such as public speaking, note-taking and oral summarising.

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.

Conference Interpreting 

Semester 2 (mandatory)

This course includes workshops and opportunities to practise consecutive and simultaneous interpreting following a set programme of appropriate speeches and miniconferences at which students participate as speakers and practise their simultaneous and consecutive interpreting

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.

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

2021 entry tuition fees for this programme will be published shortly. Please contact us at the telephone number or email above.

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 scholarships.