Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Modern Language and Cultures


Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.
Tied to R9K107


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with the necessary understanding of issues of liability;
  • To support the students' development of an awareness of legal liability and professional ethics;
  • To provide students with training in understanding and assessing codes of conduct regulating translators' professional activity;
  • To give students an essential grounding in the different career profiles in the translator professions.
  • To give students sufficient skills in dealing with ethical and legal issues regulating translators aware of their social role.


  • The module provides grounding in international regulations informing the translation profession.
  • The module focuses on essential issues with which contemporary professional translators need to deal:
  • liability insurance;
  • loyalties;
  • copyright issues;
  • business practice;
  • administrative needs;
  • essential understanding of normative regulations (EU law on translation, UN law on translation, FIT regulations for professional activity).
  • The integrated and focused plan of the course provides students with a coherent and accessible way to discerning legal and ethical issues. The module will address the location and access of useful translation resources referring to technological aids to translation both printed and electronic. The module will also focus on the essential theoretical notion of the self-reflective translator and the activist translator.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will develop an in-depth knowledge of appropriate codes of conduct;
  • Students will acquire a knowledge of good business practice;
  • Students will develop a theoretical understanding of the essential legal paramenters regulating professional behaviour and personal ethics in translation.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to assess ethical difficulties in a professional setting;
  • Ability to locate legal resources to understand issues relevant to ethical conduct and appropriate business practice;
  • Ability to negotiate appropriate working conditions;
  • Ability to evaluate appropriate the complexity of business or personal insurance for liability.
Key Skills:
  • the effective use of negotiating skills;
  • the ability to engage in independent assessment and evalutation of professional behaviour;
  • the ability to critically engage in the development of disciplinary boundaries and norms (especially engaging with the issue of copyright and intellectual property);
  • the ability necessary to undertake a higher research degree (e.g. in translator ethics and business ethos);
  • the ability to communicate results and findings effectively both orally and in writing.

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

  • Teaching methods will include a combination of lectures, workshops with professionals, and seminars based on problem-solving activities and analysis of realworld scenarios.
  • The module is taught in Michaelmas term.
  • Lectures will introduce key issues in code of conduct and ethical dilemmas. The seminars will engage with discussing real scenarios (looking at discussions and debates on liability, responsibility, loyalty, and copyright) and analysis of translation contract and cases of complaints.
  • Seminars will combine two learning processes: in the first hour, the students will present and discuss a case of ethical and professional nature (e.g. contractual negotiations, refusal of payment, discussions over fees, letters of complaint) and will debate over the notions of professional and business ethics presented by their cases; during the presentation, the students review issues connected with individual ethics, code of practice, and legal liability. In the second hour of each seminar, the students deal with details of a scenario provided by tutor in which ethical decisions need to be made and they are asked: 1) to select appropriate materials that help them to make an informed and professional judgment on deonthologically correct choices, 2) to describe the rationale of their choice, and 3) to organize a defense of their final decision.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 4 fortnightly 2 hours 8
Seminars 5 fortnightly 2 hours 10
Student preparation and reading time associated with contact hours 62
General Background Reading, revision for Case Analysis 70
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Case Analysis Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Presentation of case in context 1000 words 40%
Critical analysis of legal and ethical issues 1500 words 60%

Formative Assessment:

Group feedback in seminar activities.

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