Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module ARAB40515: LEGAL TRANSLATION (Arabic>English/English>Arabic)

Department: Modern Language and Cultures (Arabic)

ARAB40515: LEGAL TRANSLATION (Arabic>English/English>Arabic)

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None.
Tied to T6L007


  • None.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • On completion of this module, students should be able confidently to translate legal texts into English and Arabic to a professional level. The module aims to provide students with the necessary grounding and intensive practice in the translation of a wide variety of legal texts both into English and Arabic.


  • This module is intended to provide students with an overview of the linguistic characteristics of legal discourse and translation and to train them in the necessary skills involved in legal translation, in general, and the specificities attendant upon translating between Arabic and English in order to tackle a wide range of legal documents in different areas of legal translation, in both national (various types of contracts) and international (e.g. treaties) domains. The module is predicated on the comparative analytical method, within which relevant discourse characteristics and specificities in Arabic and English are examined in detail. The module will also give due attention to the cultural and ethical aspects relevant to legal translation. The text types and issues examined form the basis for the translation assignments. Another component of the module is aimed at giving students a grounding in the research methods and IT tools necessary to undertake advanced specialised translation. Students are also introduced to a number of computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools that may be of use in their translation activity.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will acquire knowledge of:
  • the main features of legal texts in both English and Arabic;
  • the processes underlying the translation of legal texts;
  • the lexicological and terminological issues attendant upon the translation of legal texts;
  • the relevant ethical and liability-related aspects of legal translation in a professional context;
  • the various linguistic structures of English and Arabic legal discourse;
  • the various discourse types and registers found in legal documents;
  • standard reference tools, including electronic source materials, and their use in the translation of legal texts;
  • the possibilities of computer-assisted translation tools in legal translation.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will acquire the ability:
  • to deal with various specialised registers in legal texts in a wide variety of areas;
  • to locate, access and exploit relevant lexicological and terminological sources;
  • effectively to translate source-language content-specific structures into the appropriate target-language register;
  • to translate legal documents in a wide variety of domains into English and Arabic;
  • to engage in the independent translation of a wide variety of legal texts in both English and Arabic;
  • to produce a clearly written and fluent translation of an Arabic or English source text in the appropriate register.
  • Students will enhance their linguistic, translation and writing skills in both English and Arabic.
Key Skills:
  • the effective use of lexicological and terminological resources;
  • the effective use of IT resources and facilities.

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 decisions.
  • The module runs over two terms (Michaelmas and Epiphany). For the sake of consistency with the other specialised translation and interpreting modules , each term focuses on one translation direction, i.e. Arabic>English and English>Arabic.
  • The module is assessed by two translations of specialised texts related to business or technology, one Arabic>English, the other, English>Arabic, to be handed in by the beginning of the term following the one in which the relevant translation direction was dealt with. The student chooses which text s/he wishes to translate, subject to the approval of the course tutor. The translation text should be about 1,500 words in length. The translation must be accompanied by a detailed commentary (approx. 1,000 words) including a contrastive analysis of the main textual features of relevance to the translation, as well as strategic translation decisions taken by the translator.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 19 Weekly 1 hour 19
Preparation and Reading 131
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Translation of Legal Document 1 Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Arabic>English translation 1500 words 75%
Commentary 1000 words 25%
Component: Translation of Legal Document 2 Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
English>Arabic translation 1500 words 75%
Commentary 1000 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