MSc Interpreting

The course

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

Our MSc Interpreting course is one of the most established and respected interpreting degrees of its kind in the UK and offers professional standard training in Chinese, French, German and Spanish.


Got questions about this programme?

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Our masters degree in Interpreting is designed for those who have native/near-native command of English and one other language from:

  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish.

You will be taught by experts from the fields of interpreting practice, linguistics, research and education and given the chance to bring your skills to a professional standard through regular practice in our newly-refurbished interpreting booths, which are modelled on those used by the United Nations and the European Union. 

This programme is designed for those who want to work as professional interpreters and has been thoughtfully designed to give you expertise to use in a range of contexts including:

  • conference interpreting
  • health-care interpreting
  • legal interpretingEuropean exchange
  • simultaneous interpreting
  • educational interpreting.

This practical interpreting programme provides around 15 hours of academic contact per week in our language labs including weekly multilingual mock-conferences in our interpreting labs.

Language Labs

Studying an MSc Interpreting degree at Heriot-Watt University will give you access to our excellent translation and interpreting facilities which include our recently refurbished interpreting labs modelled on those used at the UN and EU.

In these labs you will find state-of-the-art interpreting booths, digital resources, and a range of professional-standard software packages. Gaining experience and confidence in using these facilities is a key part of this degree programme. 

Language combinations

In the practical translating and interpreting courses our students can opt for Strand A or Strand B, 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 chosen language.

Strand B

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

Industry links: an international network

MSc Interpreting provides access to an ever-growing international network of employers who recognise the high standard of interpreting graduates from Heriot-Watt University.

Our industry links allow us to host SWATI Day for our graduating students (Starting Work as a Translator or Interpreter). This is 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. 

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.

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

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 and Organisations 
  • Intercultural Communication in the Workplace
  • Beginner language courses in French, German, Spanish, Chinese, British Sign Language

One from a range including:

  • Subtitling
  • Project Management
  • Beginner language courses in French, German, Spanish, Chinese, British Sign Language

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.

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 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.