BSc Translation Studies - French and Spanish

Why choose this course?

  • Translation graduates can now receive accreditation from the Chartered Institute of Linguists
  • Aston is one of only a few UK universities genuinely specialising in translation and interpreting
  • French at Aston is ranked 11th in the UK for Employability in the Complete University Guide 2015.
  • This subject line at Aston is ranked Top 15 in the UK for student satisfaction in the Guardian University Guide 2015.
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4 years full-time with integrated year abroad

UCAS Code: RR14

Typical Offers
A Levels:
ABB - BBB from 3 A-levels, including French and Spanish Grade B.  General Studies accepted. Applicants with AS level in one of French/Spanish considered on an individual basis, subject to interview.

If your predicted grades are close to those stated in Aston's typical offers and if you are interested in Aston University and the courses we offer we encourage you to apply to us as one of your 5 UCAS choices. In addition to your predicted grades, when making offers we also consider your previous academic performance (eg AS grades, GCSEs), your school/college reference and the commitment and motivation you demonstrate for your chosen course via the personal statement. Applicants and their teachers/advisers are welcome to contact us with individual queries about entry qualifications via lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk.

View our Admissions Policy.  

IB: 32-33 points in the IB diploma including TOK/Bonus points. Standard level Maths and English 5 required and 6 in Higher Level French and Spanish.
Access: Pass Access to HE Diploma with Merit in each module.  Humanities or Social Sciences Access course preferred, but other courses considered on an individual basis.  A-level grade B in French and Spanish or equivalent.
BTEC: National Extended Diploma DDD.   A-level grade B in French and Spanish or equivalent.  Mix of Diploma/ Subsidiary Diploma/A-levels acceptable.

We accept a wide range of UK, EU and International qualifications: please contact us for further advice.

Specific subject requirements:
GCSE English Language and Maths Grade C.

Tuition fees 2014/15: £9,000 (£1,000 during placement year) for UK/EU students. More on fees

Applicants receiving offers are invited to an open day.

Our Translation Studies programmes combine the study of French and/or German and/or Spanish with professional and theoretical aspects of translation. The programmes are designed to prepare you for a successful career either in translation or in allied professions. By the end of the programme your language skills will have reached near-native proficiency and you will also have developed competence in translation and intercultural communication. The programmes focus on French, German and/or Spanish language, culture and society. They also develop insights into the wider socio-cultural context of translation.

Each of our Translation Studies programmes follows a clear progression, building upon your initial level and developing your full potential over the course of your studies. In each year of study, core modules in language and society are complemented by modules that focus on translation-relevant topics. The Third Year is spent abroad on a work placement (including work in a translation company), at an exchange university, or on an assistantship. In the Final Year, you will have the opportunity to practice your translation and interpreting skills and develop specialised translation competence in a subject area of your own choice. You will graduate as a confident speaker of French, German and/or Spanish with excellent intercultural and translation competence.

Sample module options: The following module descriptions are indications only - the modules on offer and the content of the modules is subject to change.

Year 1
Language and communication determine the way we interact with one another, shape our personal relationships and create an image of ourselves. On a larger scale, language and communication are among the main factors which shape societies and distinct forms of culture. This module offers an introduction to the basic concepts of language and communication. Linguistics, the science of studying language, languages and communication, offers a variety of tools and methods to analyse phenomena such as bilingualism, computer-mediated communication, language and globalization etc.

Assessment method: two hour examination.

This module introduces students to translation as a professional activity. They will be familiarised with key theoretical concepts of translation and their application in practice, so as to develop skills in translating. They will learn to produce translations into English that are appropriate for their specified purpose and readers, and learn to explain their own translation decisions.

Assessment method: group work, coursework and examination.

This module follows on from the Introduction to Translation, putting into practice many of the ideas students encountered there. The module is based on practical sessions that examine a range of language mediation tasks including summary translation, song translation, subtitling, liaison interpreting and translation editing. The class uses various language combinations and involves intensive small-group preparation.

Assessment method: group presentation and individual translation project.
This module is designed to improve your language skills and to develop your fluency and accuracy, in both written and oral production. Key areas of focus include the production of academic texts (summary, essay), the revision and reinforcement of grammar, and the ability to communicate and to argue in a structured and appropriate format.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by coursework and exam.
This module is designed to introduce you to the French press from the outset of your university studies, and to encourage regular reading of both print-based and electronic media sources. We look at the economics and structure of the French press, and the challenges posed by new technologies and the arrival of free newspapers, before discussing the structure of news articles and comparing different press titles.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by presentation and exam.
This module offers an introduction to the study of French history. Starting with the Revolution of 1789, it provides an overview of major events and processes which have shaped the course of modern French history, examining the enduring significance of the past for contemporary France. Key historical events and personalities are considered against a historical backdrop of political turbulence, regime change and the continuous debate over what constitutes the French ‘value system’.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by exam.
This module is a companion module to Reading the French Press. It focuses on how individual press titles deal with specific issues and general subjects, and looks at how media reports are constructed differently across media titles (mainly weekly and daily publications). There is a strong emphasis on independent study.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by critical commentary and portfolio.
The aim of this module is to provide a basic grounding in French culture. Amongst a range of different texts, we focus on contemporary literature (looking at writers such as Camus and Ernaux) and on the cinema of La Nouvelle Vague. Group activities centre on text analysis and discussion, with particular emphasis on the themes of alienation and protest or contestation. Above all, the module aims to provide the tools to analyse, discuss and enjoy aspects of contemporary culture.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by group presentation, exam and essay
In this module students will work on different skills involved in language learning: from listening and speaking, to reading, writing, and translating. Relevant texts will be used in order to increase students’ awareness of Hispanic culture, economy, history and society in an attempt to learn the language in the context in which it is produced. Students will have two hours per week of scheduled interactive seminars and one hour of oral classes.

Assessment method: Class tests, oral tasks, portfolio on independent learning tasks and final exam.

The module seeks to provide students with a clear vision of Latin America. It attempts to balance the region’s general historical background with its social, cultural, political and economic developments. Particular attention will be given to the specific characteristics of each country, highlighting their differences and similarities. Students will also be introduced to Latin America’s general trends as well as to its role in the international arena.

Assessment method: Class test and exam.

The module seeks to provide students with an introductive overview of contemporary Latin American culture. It will introduce students to works of Latin American art, cinema, literature and architecture, as well as other relevant art forms, including music, dance, popular festivals, etc. All these will be discussed within their social, political, and historical contexts.

Assessment method: Oral Presentation and Exam.

The first part of the module aims to provide students with an understanding of the main processes and protagonists contributing to the development of a modern, prosperous democracy in Spain. It will focus on the political, ideological and economic changes which shaped the transition from dictatorship to democracy.

The second part offers an overview of Spanish culture through literature, cinema, art and music. Topics such as Spanish national identity and the recovery of the past will be examined in order to understand the key factors which have shaped Spanish culture. The course will provide students with the tools required for critical analysis of distinct cultural expressions.

Assessment method: Written exams and research task

Year 2
 This module focuses on traditions of literary translation in Europe. Based on approaches to cultural exchange, students will learn about the history of literary translation in major European countries. Students are introduced to particular historical case studies, in the form of a short formal lecture, a student group presentation, and related discussion exercises, so as to get insight into the wider political, cultural and ethical context of translation.

Assessment method: one-hour class test and 1500-word essay in English.

This module introduces a selection of electronic tools that assist the professional translator. They will carry out practical translation exercises using translation memory systems, machine translation, terminology databases, subtitle editors and localisation tools. The knowledge gained in this module will be particularly useful for potential work placements with translation companies during the year abroad.

Assessment method: portfolio and oral.

This module highlights the significance of intercultural and textual competence. Students will learn to identify and evaluate potential problems in crosscultural communication. By means of a variety of cross-cultural analyses of communicative settings and textual genres they will be familiarised with communicative conventions in English, German, French and Spanish. With special relevance to translation, the module will thus develop an insight into the significance of these conventions for effective (written and oral) communication.

Assessment method: A 2000-word project in the target language (100%).

Building on the skills acquired in the first year, the second year language skills module prepares you for the year abroad. We concentrate on sophisticated sentence construction, and analyse the construction of high register texts. Key areas of focus include the production of syntheses of dossiers, and analyses of adverts or marketing reports. These activities are underpinned by ongoing grammar learning.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by grammar tests and exams.
This module aims to develop your proficiency in spoken French to a standard which enables you to communicate effectively and confidently with French native speakers and sustain a work or study placement in a French-speaking country, as well as to broaden your knowledge of contemporary French society and culture.

Assessment method: coursework.
This module aims to develop your awareness of translation problems and your research skills, focusing on the translation process from English to French. Texts for preparation, analysis and translation are distributed weekly, from a range of text types of immediate topical, or contemporary, interest. We take a functionalist approach as our basic framework of analysis.

Assessment method: take-away paper and dossier.
This module aims to develop your awareness of translation problems and your research skills, focusing on the translation process from French to English. Texts for preparation, analysis and translation are distributed weekly, from a range of text types of immediate topical, or contemporary, interest. We take a functionalist approach as our basic framework of analysis. We also encourage the study of comparable texts in the source language and parallel texts in the target language, regardless of topic, so as to refine the language and style of any given translation.

Assessment method: take-away paper.
This module aims at furthering students’ understanding of the origins, evolution and development of French in its social context. It shows how extra-linguistic factors have an impact on the dynamics of variation and change. Lessons are a mixture of lecture, discussion of readings and in-class activities.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by an essay on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with the tutor, based both on academic reading and on the analysis of authentic language data
This module examines social conflicts and issues that have been critical in the making of contemporary France. It considers how such conflicts and issues have changed with the evolution of French society, from those that defined France in the post-war years (economic modernisation, demographic change, new employment patterns, the ‘rural exodus’ etc) to those that define France today (national identity, immigration, religion, the banlieues, law and order, unemployment, gender etc). The module looks closely at a number of fault lines and fractures in French society and seeks to assess how social ‘conflict’ and ‘consensus’ are negotiated in France today.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by exam.
This module considers French cinema’s responses to market globalisation, focusing on public film policy, the film industry, and individual films. We discuss the critical features of French cinema – its relationship to national identity, the importance of state funding, debates around Americanisation – before analysing a number of recent mass market popular films and some less commercially-oriented fiction and documentary films. The latter provide an opportunity to explore how cinema has become an important medium for political resistance to economic globalisation.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by essay and exam.
This module examines French political society in the aftermath of World War 2. We focus on the Fifth Republic, discussing its beginnings out of the post-war settlement, the Fourth Republic, and de Gaulle’s return to power in 1958, before examining politics and society from the perspective of its six Presidents to date. We also concentrate on the relationship between the presidential system and the evolution and fortunes of the political parties and the party system.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by essay and exam.
This module aims to develop proficiency in written and spoken Spanish to a standard that enables the student to communicate effectively and confidently with Spanish native speakers and sustain a work or study placement in a Spanish-speaking country. Students will work on the different skills involved in language learning: from listening and speaking to reading, writing, and translating. Relevant texts will be used, in order to increase students’ awareness of Hispanic culture, economy, history and society to learn the language in the context in which it is used. 

Assessment method: Class test, dossier on independent learning tasks, oral tasks, final exam

The module aims to chart the trajectory of Spanish politics, economy, society and art since 1975. We will study the political process which led Spain to become a Parliamentary Monarchy after a military dictatorship in a reasonably non-violent atmosphere. We will pay particular attention to the role of democratic Spain in the European Union but will also look at other international connections.

Assessment method: Essay and exam.

The module seeks to provide the student with an in depth understanding of contemporary Latin America. It will focus on the region’s most recent social, cultural, political and economic developments.

Assessment method: Essay and exam.

The module focuses on the role of Spanish around the world. It deals with various linguistic and cultural issues related to several Spanish-speaking communities in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. Topics include: standard peninsular Spanish, varieties of peninsular Spanish, standard varieties of Spanish in Latin American, other varieties of Spanish in Latin America, Spanish in the US, Spanish in contact with other languages (Arabic, Catalan, English, French, German, Quechua, etc.). 

Assessment method: Dossier on seminar tasks and exam

This module focuses on the role of journalism as a cultural practice in the Hispanic world, analysing the impact that media may have upon society and exploring various ways in which journalists’ coverage of events not merely reflects the social world but helps constitute and shape it. After an introductory session to Spanish-speaking media today, the first part of the module focuses on a range of journalistic practices and genres, introducing students to different styles of writing for journalists and to the challenges of producing an accurate, readable narrative including examples from print and broadcast journalism. The second part provides a historical perspective on media in Spain and Latin America, followed by a concentrated study of the debates and controversies surrounding journalism and its relationship with society.

Assessment method: Class test and oral presentation

Year 3 - Year Abroad
Final Year
This module will further consolidate students’ understanding of translation as a complex activity within a wider context. They will acquire knowledge of contemporary translation theories and cover topics such as children’s literature in translation, gender and translation, and the translation process. The seminars are based on discussion exercises, presentations, and a variety of practical case studies.

Assessment method: 3000-word essay in English.

In this module, students consolidate and extend their skill in French-English translation at a professional level. Classes are held in English, in a workshop format based on individual preparation of high-level texts from a range of genres, such as tourist leaflets, business texts and comics. Particular attention is paid to research skills and awareness of professional issues.

Assessment method: a take-away translation and annotations.
In this module students will be introduced to the different types of interpreting and will learn how to mediate between speakers of French and English. They will practice unilateral and bilateral liaison interpreting, learn note-taking techniques, and cover a wide range of topics and contexts, such as conference interpreting and public service interpreting.

Assessment method: examination of interpreting skills. (2 practice tests and an exam)

This module aims to consolidate awareness of contemporary translation theories and to apply these to practical work, with a focus on features of specialised translation including the role of corpora. After being introduced to basic concepts and techniques of LSP Translation, each student chooses a domain for study and collects a corpus of texts in English and German/French/Spanish (depending on language combination). This corpus will provide the basis researching he text conventions, lexical and grammatical features, content and intercultural issues that must be considered when translating a text from that domain.

Assessment method: A research report (50%) and a translation (50%)

Building on the year abroad, the module is designed to further improve students’ productive language skills. We focus on a range of current issues and controversies in French politics and society, and classes encourage development of increasingly sophisticated written and oral skills and increased fluency, accuracy and comprehension. These activities are underpinned by ongoing grammar learning.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by exam and group presentation.
This module explores key aspects of the French media in the context of increasing globalisation. Discussion focuses on current themes such as freedom of information; rights and responsibilities; regulation and cultural values; the decline of print, the power of the image and new media; media and democracy; political influence and market forces; pluralism, diversity and balance.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by oral presentation and essay.
This module presents the French language through its use in authentic documents, as opposed to representations in grammars. More specifically, it focuses on how particular linguistic forms lose or develop functions over time. The module is split between presentation of areas of contemporary language variation and change and a group research project.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment includes seminar work (including a critical transcription) and writing a research report.
This is an independent study module, for which you devise, research and write a dissertation on a topic of your choice, related to France or another Francophone country. The module develops your analytical and evaluative skills as well as your linguistic fluency and accuracy. Independent study is supplemented by small group classes and/or one-to-one consultations with your dissertation supervisor, enabling you to develop your presentational and communication skills.

Assessment method: written dissertation and viva.
This module analyses the French overseas territories, and critically situates their role and status with respect to France and, more widely, the international system. We analyse the different geopolitical contexts in which the territories operate, and discuss their social, cultural, political, economic and strategic identities and relationships with France.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by essay and presentation.
This module examines the Vichy regime of 1940-44, when France was occupied and collaborated with Nazi Germany. It shows how the liberal, democratic, assimilationist model of French Republicanism was abolished by an authoritarian, repressive, ultra-nationalist regime. It explores the historical and political background to Vichy, its policies and personalities, its progressive radicalisation, the tensions between state collaboration and pro-Nazi ‘collaborationism’, and the difficulty of defining Vichy as a political regime. It also considers the aftermath of Vichy and the legacy of this brief regime within the Republican culture of contemporary France.

Assessment method: The module is taught in French and assessment is by exam.
This module further develops and consolidates the Spanish language skills acquired during the three previous years of study and, if applicable, work placement. At the end of the module, students will have reached a proficiency level equivalent to a high C1/low C2 scale as defined by the European Common Framework for Languages. The module will cover linguistic, sociolinguistic and pragmatic components corresponding to this level of communicative language competence.

Students will also have the opportunity to reflect on their professional skills as they develop their video project. In order to do this, they will create and publish online an e-Portfolio targeting prospective employers.

Assessment method: E-portfolio, video production, and exams

In this module the student will research a chosen topic, agreed with the supervisor and the Module Convenor. The research may be on any subject considered appropriate for research at final year level within the Spanish Studies programme. Students will be expected to identify their own topic and approach. There will be maximum encouragement of individual initiative and research, while supervisors will encourage the exchange and construction of ideas, the development of a hypothesis where appropriate, and advice on dissertation organisation and presentation. 

Assessment method: Dissertation and oral exam.

This module will consist of the analysis of literary works belonging to different genres, countries and periods in the 20th century. This variety will provide a glimpse of the richness and variety of contemporary literature in Spanish. Works will cover the three main literary genres: prose, poetry and drama, and will be presented in a chronological order. Spain, Central America and South America will have a relevant presence in the module.

Assessment method: Four short reports and an essay.

2nd  (84%) for Graduate Level Destinations six months after graduation, Guardian, 2014

Our graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers who value their understanding of different cultures and societies, their communication skills and motivation for team work. Recent destinations for Language and Translation Studies graduates include:   

  • English Teacher, Business Language Skills
  • PR Graduate Scheme, LIDL
  • French Customer Service Co-ordinator, CRP
  • Bilingual Sales Coordinator, Narrow Aisle Ltd
  • Language Assistant, British Council
  • Translator/Analytical Support, B&Q
  • Immigration Assistant, Australian Embassy UK
  • Marketing Analyst, Deutsche Bank
  • Graduate Trainee Managers for British Airways, Aldi Stores, John Lewis and Selfridges
  • Journalist, Tatler Magazine
  • Account Manager Interpreting, Smoby (French Toy Company)
  • Senior AdministratorMichelin
  • Public Relations Officers for a number of companies
  • European Union/European Parliament Officers/Assistants
  • PGCE Secondary Teaching Qualification at universities including King’s College London, Warwick University and Exeter
  • Marketing Assistant at Beiersdorf 

You will take part in interactive seminars, presentations and group work as well as attending lectures and tutorials. There are also opportunities for individual research and guided study. We teach our courses in French and Spanish, which means that our students are at a real advantage when it comes to gaining maximum benefit and experience from the year abroad. 

You will be allocated a Personal Tutor when you join us and you will be encouraged to make regular contact with them throughout your studies. Personal Tutors are there to help discuss academic and, in some cases, personal issues. Personal Tutors can also often offer support by writing references for placement/graduate employment and academic research.

Assessment is through a combination of written and oral exams, coursework, essays, translation tasks, presentations and an extended dissertation during your Final Year. Exams take place in January and May/June.

For further information, see the Translation Studies French and Spanish programme specification.

Professor Christina Schäffner - Professor of Translation Studies

Christina Schaffner

“My main research interests are directly related to translation and interpreting studies, in particular text analysis and translation, translation and politics, news translation, and translation competence development. In 2010, we held the 6th international conference ‘Critical Link’ at Aston, devoted to public service interpreting. This conference and the subsequent volume of selected papers, which I have co-edited, are of particular importance for the Interpreting module we offer to Final Year students since the latest developments in interpreting practice and research can feed into our teaching. My research into translation competence development has always been inspired by and fed into classroom activities. In various publications I have been able to illustrate how competence in practical translation can be enhanced if each task is approached on the basis of a solid theoretical and methodological framework.''

The third year of your course is spent abroad in a German and a Spanish speaking country - increasing your fluency, enhancing your cultural awareness and adding value to your degree. The Year Abroad is an integral and assessed part of language studies at Aston University, fully supported by us, and of direct relevance to your degree. 

A distinctive feature of our Year Abroad is the flexibility that we offer. You will be able to choose between undertaking a paid work-experience placement with a company, working as a teaching assistant in a school or studying at one of our partner universities - you might even choose to combine two of these options. We are extremely proud of the high level of preparation, orientation and support that we provide before and during your year abroad. We have a full-time Placements Team who will give you plenty of individual help and advice, and even come and visit you during your time away. 

Find out more about the Year Abroad.

Campus accommodation guaranteed for first year and final year students returning from year abroad.

Contact Details

Tel: 0121 204 3777

Student Profile

Student Profile

Georgina Rayner, Graduate 2013

BSc Translation Studies - French and German

I am currently on 6 month placement in Berlin, working for a translation and interpretation company right in the heart of the city. I work as part of a brilliant team in a very well-established company, whilst having plenty of time to meet with friends and improve my language skills further.


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Fees and funding

Fees and funding



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