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.



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 linguistics experts from the fields of interpreting practice, 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 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 interpreting
  • simultaneous interpreting
  • 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

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 Language Labs - the biggest owned by any Higher Education Institute in Europe.

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 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 the two languages chosen.

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.

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.

Go Global

Some of our Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes are eligible for Inter-Campus Transfer. Please contact for further information

Detailed course information

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
  • Performing Identities: Festivals and Global Heritage
  • Beginner language courses in French, German, Spanish, Chinese, British Sign Language

One from a range including:

  • Subtitling
  • Localisation & Technical Writing
  • Intercultural Perspectives on Sustainable Development
  • 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 2020 entry (by residency status)
Status* Full-time Part-time Per course
Scotland / Non-UK EU £7400 £3700 £925**
England / Northern Ireland / Wales £7400 £3700 £925**
Overseas £16400 £8200 £2050**

* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.

** Fee per course (module). Refer to the Course Content to see how many courses comprise the full programme.

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.

Featured scholarships

Merit Awards for international students starting postgraduate degree courses in 2020

If you are an international fee-paying, self-funded offer holder you may be eligible for:

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.