Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Modern Language and Cultures (Arabic)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08 Module Cap None.
Tied to T6L007


  • None.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The module is aimed at providing students with the necessary grounding and training in Arabic>English and English>Arabic translation. In particular, it aims to give students the experience and confidence to translate independently between Arabic and English and help them acquire the relevant skills.


  • The translation practica provide intensive practice in English>Arabic and Arabic>English translation. Students receive a course pack of texts for translation, with the classes being designed to provide translation practice over a wide range of genres (prose fiction, newspaper and magazine articles, academic writing, technical writing), subject areas (society, politics, economics, science, the law, everyday life), and genres (literary, empirical, persuasive, religious). Through abundant examples, the module focuses on a number of crucial aspects of Arabic-English-Arabic translation and contrastive English-Arabic stylistics such as:
  • cultural transposition and borrowing;
  • denotative and connotative meaning, including collocations, synonymy, homonyme, hyperonymy, meronymy and parallelism;
  • phonic and prosodic issues in translation, including alliteration and onomatopoeia;
  • morphological, lexical and semantic repetition;
  • coherence and cohesion, including devices such as reference, substitution and ellipsis;
  • fronting and emphasis;
  • metaphor;
  • language variation, including register, dialect, idiolect, sociolect and jargon;
  • intertextuality.
  • The integrated and focused structure of the translation practica courses provides students with a coherent and accessible structure within which to develop their translation competence.In addition, the module will also address the use of computer-assisted translation tools and the location and access of useful translation resources, both printed and electronic.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will acquire an in-depth knowledge of the processes involved in English-Arabic-English translation.
  • Students will acquire a knowledge of:
  • the lexicological and terminological issues attendant upon translation;
  • key translation procedures and devices within the framework of Arabic-English comparative stylistics;
  • standard reference tools, including electronic source materials, and their use in Arabic/English translation;
  • the possibilities and use of computer-assisted translation tools in Arabic/English translation.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will acquire a thorough grounding in the skills required for translating between English and Arabic.
  • Students will acquire the ability:
  • to deal with the transference of connotative and denotative meaning in Arabic/English translation;
  • effectively to deal with collocative aspects of Arabic/English translation;
  • effectively to address sentential issues in translation, including fronting and backgrounding, theme/rheme, topic/comment;
  • effectively to deal with intertextual elements in Arabic/English translation;
  • effectively to deal with language variety in Arabic/English translation, including aspects related to register, sociolect and dialect;
  • effectively to deal with intercultural elements in Arabic/English translation;
  • effectively to deal with phonic, graphic and prosodic issues in Arabic/English translation, including alliteration, rhyme and onomatopeia;
  • effectively to deal with grammatical issues in Arabic/English translation, including morphological repetition, lexical repetition, phrase repetition, etc.;
  • to locate, access and exploit relevant lexicological and terminological sources;
  • effectively to translate source-language content-specific structures into the appropriate target-language register.
Key Skills:
  • the effective use of translation strategies;
  • the effective use of lexicological and terminological resources;
  • the effective use of IT resources and facilities;
  • the ability to engage in the independent translation of a wide variety of texts in both English and Arabic;
  • the ability to produce a clearly written and fluent translation of an Arabic or English source text in the appropriate register.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is taught in the form of seminars with comparison-based correction and commentary of the translations prepared by the students. This approach provides students with the largest possible degree and range of active engagement with both peers and lecturer. The translation seminars offer ample opportunity for a discussion of the principles underlying effective translation strategies, with immediate feedback on translation strategies and principles.
  • The courses are taught for two hours per week over two terms of the teaching year, one hour of Arabic>English translation and one hour of English>Arabic translation.
  • The module assessed by extended translations (ST 2000 words each) and commentaries. At the beginning of Epiphany term students submit an Arabic>English extended translation, with an English>Arabic extended translation to be sumitted at the start of Easter Term. The extended translations are designed to allow students to focus on areas of translation which are of specific interest to them and in which they already possess, or wish to develop, specific expertise. The student chooses which text s/he wishes to translate, subject to the approval of the course tutor. During the course of the term, each student is entitled up to 2 hours of individual consultation/supervision with the course tutor. The purpose of this is to elucidate problems of comprehension and interpretation of the original text, and discuss matters of translation strategy and tactics. The translation is to be accompanied by a commentary outlining major problems encountered in translation, the solutions adopted in problematic cases, and the reasons why these solutions (rather than other possible alternatives) were adopted. The extended translation should also contain a short introduction (approximately 1,500 words) dealing with the background to the source text, its relevant features (e.g. text type, genre, register), the author, as well as a discussion of general translation points not dealt with in a consolidated manner elsewhere.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 19 Weekly 2 hours 38
Tutorials 2 as required 1 hour 2
Preparation and Reading 260
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Translation Practica Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Arabic>English extended translation 2000 words 75%
Commentary 1500 words 25%
Component: Translation Practica Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
English>Arabic extended translation 2000 words 75%
Commentary 1500 words 25%

Formative Assessment:

Intermittent translation assignments (a minimum of two per term), in addition to the texts to be prepared for class commentary.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University