MSc Interpreting and Translating

The course

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

Heriot-Watt University is home to the most established Interpreting and Translating Masters degree programme in Scotland and offers teaching in Chinese, French, German and Spanish in state-of-the-art facilities.


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Heriot-Watt University's Interpreting and Translating MSc degree is a twin-focus programme of study which will prepare you for an exciting, international career as a professional translator and interpreter in one or two of the following languages combined with English:

  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish

This specialist 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.

Studying MSc Interpreting and Translation at Heriot-Watt University will give you access to our excellent translation and interpreting facilities which include our recently refurbished interpreting labs.

Your learning will focus on developing a professional standard of expertise in specific 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 develop these skills to the highest standard and learn about the different approaches and skillsets required from interpreters when working in distinct professional contexts such as healthcare, court and legal, educational and conference interpreting.

Practice in a professional setting

Our state-of-the-art language labs and suite of simultaneous interpreting booths will provide you with the ideal setting in which to perfect your translating and interpreting skills to professional standards.

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

Our interpreting booths and translation labs 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. The ability to master these tools is essential for all modern translators and interpreters.

Your practical interpreting and translating skills will be developed in our language labs with around 15 hours of academic contact per week including weekly mock-conferences in Semester 2 where up to 5 languages are spoken by around 20 – 30 students and lecturers.

You will fine-tune your conference interpreting skills on a larger scale at the annual Heriot-Watt University Multilingual Debate. This is a formal debate between two multilingual teams which is watched by thousands of school-aged languages pupils from across the United Kingdom.

Academic and professional expertise

You will be taught by a team of highly-qualified researchers, educators and practising professionals who bring knowledge, expertise and guidance to the classroom.

This blend of academic and professional expertise helps our programme maintain its position at the fore-front of industry practice and ensures that you will gain practical insights into the careers of successful interpreters and translators on an almost daily basis.

See the 'Meet the team' section below for brief profiles of the senior academics and lecturers on this programme.

Industry links: an international network

By studying on our MSc Interpreting and Translating programme you will gain access to an ever-growing international network of employers who recognise the high standard of skills and expertise of Interpreting and Translating graduates.

These industry links help us offer students our SWATI Day (Starting Work as a Translator or Interpreter), an industry-focussed conference event which brings key figures from industry to Heriot-Watt University for a day of professional guidance and networking.

Our graduates are given access to exclusive internship opportunities with organisations such as IAMZ, the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza in Spain, which gives four MSc students with a proficient level of Spanish the opportunity to take up partly European exchange-funded 3 month Simultaneous Interpreting placements in Spain. 

Graduate destinations

Our hands-on, professional standard experience of interpreting and translating is the ideal preparation for industry and ensures that our graduates are widely sought after and respected across the industry.

Many recent graduates of this programme have gone on to build successful careers in areas such as:

  • In-house translator
  • Freelance conference interpreter
  • Founder of translation and interpreting agency
  • Courtroom interpreter 
  • National Health Service interpreting head

Recent Interpreting and Translating graduates have also been equipped with the transferable skills and qualities necessary to build successful careers as project managers, copywriters, editors, media specialists and educators.

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 Chinese, French, German or Spanish. Students work in both directions between English and their other chosen language.

Strand B

Study of English + two foreign languages from French, German, Spanish, 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’s MSc Interpreting and Translating is regarded as one of the strongest degree programmes of its kind by many within the industry. This is reflected in our professional membership of Conférence Internationale permanente d’Instituts Universitaires de Traducteurs et Interprètes (CIUTI) a multinational organisation of universities which is dedicated to upholding a standard of excellence in the teaching of interpreting and translating. CIUTI recognition is a guarantee that the course content, teaching and examinations  are conducted at the highest standard. It is a mark of quality which is recognised by major international employers of interpreters and translators.

Our training efforts are backed up by SCIC, the Directorate-General for Interpretation of the European Commission, through a cooperation agreement. This cooperation translates into virtual classes, pedagogical assistance missions and training for trainers delivered by SCIC trainers, as well as study visits to Brussels.

September 2022 entry

The deadline for applications from Scottish and RUK students is 31 August 2022. For EU and overseas applicants, we guarantee to consider applications submitted by the 8 August 2022.

Course content

We offer a broad range of optional courses in professionally relevant subjects. This means you can choose the areas in which you want to specialise, tailoring the programme to your own interests and professional needs.

Semester 1 Semester 2
Applied Professional Skills for Conference Interpreters Conference Interpreting
Translation Practice 1 Translation Practice 2
  Translation and Interpreting Studies
Two from a range including:
  • Translation Technologies
  • Liaison and Public Service Interpreting
  • International Politics and Organisations 
  • Business Communication
  • Intercultural Communication in the Workplace
  • Beginner language courses in French, German, Spanish, Chinese, British Sign Language
One from a range including:
  • Subtitling
  • Liaison Interpreting for Business
  • Project Management
  • Beginner language courses in French, German, Spanish, Chinese, British Sign Language

Students who progress to the MSc will take a Masters dissertation in an area relevant to Translation and Interpreting Studies.

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.

Translation Practice 1

Semester 1 (mandatory)

The course helps students to develop mastery of the skills and techniques of translating to professional standards through study of a number of text types and genres and practice in translating these text types and genres. Transferable skills (e.g. the ability to work in a team) which are crucial in professional translation contexts are also developed.

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.

Translation Practice 2

Semester 2 (mandatory)

The course further enhance mastery of the skills and techniques of translating to professional standards through study of a number of text types and genres and practice in translating these text types and genres. The course also helps learners develop a number of key transferable skills (e.g. revising, abstracting, editing, summarising, proof-reading) which are important in professional translation contexts and non-translation-related situations.

Translation and Interpreting Studies

Semester 2 (mandatory)

The course covers the major theoretical areas in Translation and 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.

Meet the MSc Interpreting and Translating Team

Professor Claudia V. Angelelli

Prof. Angelelli is Chair of Multilingualism and Communication in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies and the co-director of LINCS MSc Programmes at Heriot-Watt University. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics from Stanford University, her MA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and her BA from Universidad Católica Argentina. Prof. Angelelli has conducted research projects in the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe focusing on access to healthcare services through translation and interpreting, the role of the interpreter, bilingual youngsters brokering communication for their families and immediate communities, linguistic policy, access to services and rights to language, translation and interpreting pedagogy testing and assessment. She has published extensively in these topics. She is also co-author of the California Healthcare Interpreting Association Code of Ethics.

Prof. Angelelli has over 30 years of professional experience as a freelance consultant in translation/interpreting and has worked for a diverse range of clients such as: Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, the Argentine and US Courts of Law, World Council of Credit Unions, Castrol and Princeton Medical Center. She is currently Professor Emerita of Spanish Linguistics at San Diego State University and has served as President and Vice President of the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association (8 years) , Director of the American Translators Association (6 years), Director of The Consortium of Distinguished Language Centres (5 years) and WorldProject Leader for ISO (5 years) designing ISO 13611, the first international standard on Community/Public Service Interpreting.

Dr Marion Winters

Marion Winters is Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies in the Department of Language and Intercultural Studies and member of the Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS). She teaches translation technology, translation theory and practical translation into German across MSc Programmes in Translation and Interpreting Studies and is course leader for Translation Technologies. She graduated with a first degree in Translation Studies (English, Spanish) from University of Heidelberg, Germany, and received her PhD in Corpus-based Translation Studies from Dublin City University, Ireland. Her research interests include corpus-linguistic methodologies in translation studies, translational stylistics and more specifically translator style and characterization in translation. She is a founding editor and editorial board member of the IATIS journal New Voices in Translation Studies and a professional member of the German and Irish translators' associations (BDÜ, ITIA).

Professor Jemina Napier

Jemina Napier is Head of the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University and teaches Interpreting and Translation Studies on MSc Interpreting and Translating. Professor Napier has published several books and over 90 articles based on her research into signed language interpreting and interpreting pedagogy. Her research expertise focuses around three strands of intercultural communication: (1) language and communication in the context of interpreter-mediated communication; (2) daily use of signed language by deaf adults and the challenges this poses for signed language interpreters; and (3) interpreting pedagogy, using action research to explore aspects of distance education, blended learning, curriculum innovation and discourse-based teaching practices. She has practiced as a signed language interpreter since 1988, working between English and British Sign Language (BSL), Australian Sign Language (Auslan) or International Sign. Jemina was previously the President of the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association (ASLIA) and an inaugural board member of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI). She was inaugural Editor of the International Journal of Interpreter Education and remains a member of the editorial board. She was previously Head of Translation and Interpreting and Director of the Centre for Translation and Interpreting Research at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where she is now an Adjunct Professor. 

Entry requirements

Strand A

  1. Native / near-native command of English plus native / near-native command of Chinese, French, German, or Spanish.
  2. Good degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

Strand B

  1. Native / near-native command of English plus an excellent command of two from French, German, Spanish, Arabic or Chinese.
  2. Good degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

Entrance tests

Suitable applicants will be invited for interview and to undertake a short test.

English language requirements

Non-native speakers of English must provide evidence of their English language ability. This must be IELTS 7.0, or equivalent, with at least 6.5 in all components. A score of 6.0 in writing may be accepted if the applicant performs well at interview and test.


Tuition fees for entry
Status Full-time Part-time Per course
UK £7776 £3888 £972
Overseas £17304 £8652 £2163


  1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
  2. Fee per course (module). Refer to the Course Content to see how many courses comprise the full programme.
  3. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

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.

Additional scholarship information