Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Modern Language and Cultures


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


  • Knowledge of a language other than English.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Starting with the assumption that translation is possible, the course examines various theories of translation and issues in translation, considering questions of text type, target audience of both the original and translation (which may differ in significant respects) translation strategies, general versus language-specific considerations. In each case practical questions of translatability will take precedence. The broad theoretical perspective on translation provided by this course complements the specific orientation of the translation modules. On completion of this module, students should have a sound understanding and insight into key aspects of modern theories in translation. The module is also intended to improve students’ understanding of the processes involved in translation and of the main assessment criteria of ‘good’ translation practice.


  • Within a loosely chronological approach, the module addresses the process of translation through a discussion of translation theories of the last decades, with a focus on: translation shifts, the various types of equivalence (dynamic, functional, formal, etc.), functional and discourse theories, hermeneutics, and intercultural aspects within the translation process.
  • The following topics will be discussed:
  • Translation Studies: background issues;
  • Signs, Semiotics and Systems
  • Pre-linguistic Translation Theories: history of translation before the 20th century;
  • Equivalence;
  • Translation shifts and functional theories
  • Discourse and Pragmatics models;
  • Translation and Relevance Theory;
  • Polysystem Theories and the Manipulationists
  • Translation and Culture;
  • Translation Theory and Contrastive Text Analysis;
  • Dialect and Translation
  • Metaphor and Translation
  • Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) and Machine Translation (MT)

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will acquire knowledge of:
  • the underlying ideas of contemporary translation theory and of the various factors at play in the science of translation.
  • key translation concepts such as: equivalence, translation shift, discourse and register, and cross-cultural parameters;
  • the various approaches to translation within the various theories on translation activity and purpose;
  • the relationship between the source and target texts, and the role of the translator in the translation process;
  • the importance of cultural elements within the translation process .
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will acquire the ability :
  • critically to analyse the approaches to translation posited in translation theories, both past and present;
  • to increase their understanding of the translation process and strategies.
  • critically to examine and analyse the underlying translation processes within a theoretical framework;
  • to isolate and identify the various factors involved in the translation process;
  • to examine target texts against a theoretical background and to isolate the various elements that came into play in the production ot the text.
  • Students will acquire enhanced understanding of the role and function of the translator and how this is manifested in the translation process and the end product, i.e. the target text.
  • Students will acquire enhanced understanding of the relationship between the source and target texts and the role of the translator as actor, rather than as a mere intermediary.
Key Skills:
  • effective use of relevant sources;
  • effective application of translation theories to the act of translation;
  • increased synthetic and analytical skills in respect of the translation activity;
  • effective analysis of the translation activity as manifested in the transfer from ST to TT.

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

  • The module is taught through lectures, during which various translation theories are discussed and illustrated by means of extensive examples taken from a wide variety of sources. The mode of instruction is interactive, and relies on the critical analysis of the key features of translation theories and testing them against the actual translation activity.
  • The Translation Theory module has three two-hour lectures per term, added with two one-hour seminars. The module runs over two terms.
  • In the course of the seminars, students will be able to deepen their knowledge of the theories discussed in the course of the lectures, whereas it offers scope for formative assessment through presentations on topics related to those treated in the lecture classes.
  • The module is assessed by means of two essays, of 2,500 words each, on a topic related to translation theory and/or studies. The first essay should be submitted by the start of Epiphany Term, the second, at the start of Easter Term.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 6 3 per term 2 hour 12
Seminars 6 2 per term 1 hour 6
Preparation and Reading 282
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2,500 words 50%
Essay 2,500 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

The formative assessment consists of student presentations delivered in the course of the seminars, with immediate verbal feedback being provided by the lecturer.

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