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?

Contact our enquiries team.


September 2024 entry

The deadline for applications from UK students is 30 August 2024. For EU and overseas applicants, we guarantee to consider applications submitted by 2 August 2024.


MSc Interpreting

Our masters degree in Interpreting is designed for those who have native/near-native command of English and one or two other languages 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 interpreting programme provides around 15 hours of academic contact per week including conference interpreting seminars in our interpreting labs, interpreting lectures, liaison interpreting seminars, and mock multilingual conferences in semester 2.

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.

Course content

  • Semester 1 (Sep-Dec): 60 credits (4 taught courses)
  • Semester 2 (Jan-April): 60 credits (4 taught courses)
  • Semester 3 (May-Aug): 60 credits (MSc dissertation)

Semester 1

  • Skills for Interpreting
  • Liaison and Public Service Interpreting
  • Translation and Interpreting Studies

Plus one from the following options:

  • Subtitling
  • Translation Technologies
  • Business Communication
  • International Politics and Organisations 
  • Intercultural Communication in the Workplace
  • Business Communication 1: Communication in the Workplace

Semester 2

  • Conference Interpreting
  • Liaison Interpreting for Business
  • Introduction to the Translation and Interpreting Professions
  • Research Methods

Semester 3

  • MSc Dissertation (60 credits)

For the MSc dissertation, students can choose one of these three options:

  1. Research dissertation (12,000 words): completion of an original research study.
  2. Translation and Commentary Dissertation: students in one of the programmes with translation can work on the translation of a text of +/- 6,000 words that has not been translated before following an invented brief, and commentary (+/- 6,000 words) of the strategies applied underpinned by relevant theories and/or theoretical models.
  3. Interpretation and Commentary Dissertation: students in a programme with interpreting can choose this option, which includes transcribing an interpretation performed by the student of between 20-30 minutes, and commentary (+/- 6,000 words) of relevant features depending on the mode, setting, communicative encounter, and analytical focus, which will be underpinned by relevant theories and/or theoretical models.

Course descriptions

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).

Translation & Interpreting Studies

Semester 1 (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.

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 mini-conferences 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).

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. 


Tuition fees for entry
Status Full-time Part-time Per course
UK £9152 £4576 £1144
Overseas £20376 £10188 £2547


  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.