Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Arabic)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to T6L007


  • None.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The module aims to provide students with a sound knowledge of the theory and practice of interpreting from English into Arabic, and vice versa. The module takes a graduated approach, with increasing complexity and exercises and material: from sight translation, note-taking and paraphrasing exercises, the focus will shift to summaries of oral presentations of texts in the target language with a view to improving students’ structural and analytical ability, as well as the linguistic skills relating to spoken discourse. Finally, the module aims to provide students with key consecutive interpreting skills and practice and preliminary exercises in simultaneous interpreting.


  • After a general introduction to the various types of interpreting (consecutive, simultaneous, whispered, legal, escort, conference, etc.), the module adopts a graduated approach. The initial focus is on sight translation of a wide variety of graduated texts with little or no prior preparation. This is followed by exercises on summarizing oral presentations of texts in the target language in order to develop speaking and writing skills (improvisation and speeches), developing concentration, logical reasoning as well as paralinguistic and non-verbal communicative elements of importance to delivery (bearing, pitch, pace, intonation, etc.). The exercises are based on simple speeches with the emphasis being on the restitution of ideas from memory or notes and are aimed at enhancing students’ structural and analytical ability in the processing of spoken discourse, with due attention to note-taking practice, sequential logic and lexical devices. There is a progression in text length and complexity of ideas, with a constant emphasis on lexical and terminological extension. The module also provides training in note-taking techniques, concomitant with a reinforcement of the necessary linguistic skills for spoken discourse: lexical extension, paraphrasing, etc. Though the course is centred on equipping students with the skills required for consecutive interpreting, it also provides students with basic exercises in simultaneous interpreting practice. The course also adresses the relevant ethical and liability-related aspects of interpreting.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will acquire:
  • a sound knowledge of interpreting practice;
  • a knowledge of the main features of note-taking;
  • a knowledge of the processes underlying interpreting, in general, and consecutive interpreting in particular;
  • a knowledge of the cognitive, linguistic and paralinguistic issues attendant upon interpreting, in general, and consecutive interpreting, in particular;
  • a knowledge of standard reference tools, including electronic source materials, and their use in interpreting.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will acquire:
  • a sound grounding in a number of basic skills required for the interpreting of English into Arabic, and vice versa.
  • the ability for effective note-taking;
  • the ability for effective paraphrasing and reformulation;
  • the ability to deal with various registers in interpreting;
  • the ability to locate, access and exploit relevant lexicological and terminological sources;
  • the ability effectively to interpret source-language content-specific structures into the appropriate target-language register;
  • the ability to translate presentations in a wide variety of domains into English and Arabic;
  • the ability to produce a clear, accurate, grammatically correct, faithful and concise translation of an oral presentation in an Arabic or English in the appropriate register.
  • Students will enhance their linguistic, translation and oral presentation skills in both English and Arabic.
Key Skills:
  • effective use of resources;
  • effective use of facilities and equipment.

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 mainly in the language laboratory with exercises related to interpreting in English>Arabic and Arabic>English. The approach is one of comparison-based correction and commentary of the translations produced by the students, and thus allows ample opportunity for 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 modules, each term focuses on one translation direction, i.e. Arabic>English and English>Arabic.
  • The module is assessed through an end-of-year oral examination involving the translation of a presentation in consecutive mode lasting for twenty minutes, both in English>Arabic and Arabic>English.

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: Oral Examinations Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Arabic>English translation 20 minutes 50%
English>Arabic translation 20 minutes 50%

Formative Assessment:

Continuous direct feedback on classroom exercises.

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