BSc Translation Studies - French and German

Why choose this course?

  • Translation graduates can now receive accreditation from the Chartered Institute of Linguists.
  • 4th for Languages Graduate Jobs in the Sunday Times 2013
  • Aston is one of only a few UK universities genuinely specialising in translation and interpreting
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4 years full-time with integrated year abroad


Typical Offers
A Levels:
 ABB - BBB from 3 A-levels, including French and German Grade B.  General Studies accepted. 

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 German.
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 German or equivalent.
BTEC: National Extended Diploma DDD.   A-level grade B in French and German 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
This is the core language skills module for first-year students which provides a solid linguistic basis for the coming years of study. The module consists of three parts: a) grammar lecture, revising the major topics of German grammar; b) communication skills seminars, practising written and oral language skills with group work, whole-class work and individual study; and c) an e-learning component comprising listening skills, vocabulary and general knowledge of the German-speaking areas.

Assessment method: grammar tests, reader’s diary, written exam, oral exam and portfolio of self-study assignments.
The module provides students with knowledge of nineteenth- and twentieth-century history and area studies as an essential intellectual basis for the modules in Levels Two and Three. Landeskunde lectures give students a basic knowledge of the German speaking countries, including geography, political systems, education systems, and aspects of the economy. In the second Teaching Period students are introduced to major events in German history from the late nineteenth century to the end of National Socialism, and their lasting effects on modern Germany are examined.

Assessment method: 1-hour written examination at the end of Teaching Period I (25%). 10-minute oral presentation (25%), 1500-word essay (50%), research skills portfolio (pass/fail) in Teaching Period II.

In this module, students are introduced to film studies as an academic discipline. In seminars they learn about the grammar of film (i.e. the use of picture, sound, camera movements) and cover basic principles of interaction between audiences and the film industry. Focussing on a varying common theme (e.g. “coming of age”, “outsiders and social misfits”), students watch and analyse a range of contemporary German films and comment on them in class-discussions as well as in writing.

Assessment method: 2-hour written, video based examination at the end of the Teaching Period (50%), 5 written tasks to be completed during teaching time, in weeks without seminars (10% each).

The topical content areas are determined by respective current events reported in the German news media. These serve as a platform to discuss wider issues in German politics, society, economy and culture. Examples can include elections, public debates, or major events. Students will also be made familiar with the nature and political affiliations of different newspapers and other media.

Assessment method: speech; group discussion; two letters to the editor.
This seminar-based module introduces the German language today and its historical context. It covers topics including the German-speaking areas; spoken and written language; the development of a German standard language; language versus dialect: the examples of Low German and Frisian; language policy and language planning; German minority languages and linguistic minorities in Germany; language contact: the example of Yiddish and English borrowings into German.

Assessment method: oral poster presentation and a two-hour exam in German.
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%).

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.
In this module, students are introduced to translation from German into English. It consists of two parts: a) textual skills with a focus on differences in grammar and word building in German and English; b) translation practice from German into English focusing on culture-specifics and text conventions.

Assessment method: grammar and vocabulary exam and translation exam.
This module introduces the major historical and current aspects of Germany’s capital throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students are familiarised with the methods and approaches of cultural studies and gain further insights into themes discussed in other modules (German History and Society; Post war Germany; German Politics and Society). The seminars cover Berlin as a political and cultural centre during Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, the National Socialist period, and post-war divided Germany, using both written sources and film, music and the visual arts.

Assessment method: oral presentation and essay.
This module consolidates and develops the first-year work on all aspects of German language, using a variety of formats including class discussion, small-group or individual projects, and guided self-study. The module has two components: a) academic writing and communication skills in German; b) a set of independent learning tasks delivered by e-learning.

Assessment method: written examination (commentary in German), oral presentation, oral exam, essay and portfolio of self-study materials.

This module follows on from the Level One history course and provides students with solid knowledge and understanding of Germany from 1945 to the present day. The focus is on major events and themes of post-war history along with contemporary German politics, society, economy and culture. Topic areas include nationhood, division and reunification, the German political system and Germany’s place in Europe and the world.\

Assessment method: Group presentation and written exam.

The module concentrates on specific topic areas in German society, culture, politics, and economy since 1990 (‘Berlin Republic’). These include, for example, reunification problems, elections, and multiculturalism. The topic areas chosen in a given year are related to current affairs. Students are given the opportunity to apply the tools and knowledge-base acquired in Teaching Period 1 (Post war Germany) to critically engage with, and keep informed about, German current affairs.

Assessment method: essay, group-discussion.
This module defines and introduces the students to significant developments in contemporary German cinema. The overarching theme is regularly adapted to new trends and has recently focused on the issue of migration in German cinema. Students are introduced to central aspects in cinema studies as well as key theoretical concepts in migration studies such as discussions of nationhood and Heimat, postcolonialism and basic principles of spatial theory. Seminars are complemented by independent watching of selected films.

Assessment method: 2-hour written, video based examination at the end of the Teaching Period (50%), 5 written tasks to be completed during teaching time, in weeks without seminars (10% each).

This seminar opens up perspectives on the second German-speaking country, with special reference to the similarities and dissimilarities between Austria and Germany. It thus develops the knowledge acquired in German History and Society (Level One) and Post war Germany (Level Two), and increases students’ awareness of the role of regional differences. Topics covered include Austrian political history, Austrian language and culture, and contemporary Austrian society.

Assessment method: 2000-word essay in German, class presentation with handout.
This module has a dual aim: to introduce students to the techniques and applications of discourse analysis as a way of studying language in use, and to improve their understanding of authentic spoken German. In seminar work, the methods of linguistic fieldwork – collecting and transcribing spoken language data – are introduced and students are helped to find ways of analysing and evaluating the results. Each student creates and carries out a fieldwork project consisting of a transcription of authentic data and its analysis.

Assessment method: 2000-word project in German.
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 develops your skills in consecutive interpreting, especially liaison interpreting. You will learn how  to mediate between native speakers of German and English who do not speak the language of their communicative partner. We will practise role-play interpreting on a variety of topics and contexts of situation (e.g. interviews, negotiations, official and semi-official talks). You will be familiarised with memorising and note-taking techniques, mechanisms of language switch, interpersonal skills and interpreting strategies.

Assessment method: interpreting a speech (30%) and a role-play dialogue (70%)

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.
In this module, students work on aspects of written and spoken German at an advanced level. The module has four components: a) translation from German into English; b) debates; c) genre-specific writing with a focus on accuracy and style; abstracting from German into English with a focus on accurate reading and the skills of linguistic mediation; d) independent learning using a structured set of advanced grammar exercises to improve accuracy in German.

Assessment method: translation into English, group debate, written report in German, three-hour examination and a portfolio of grammar work.
This module runs through the whole of the final year and draws together the skills students have acquired throughout the programme. It involves choosing a research topic from the areas of German history, politics, economics, language or culture; researching this; and writing it up in an extended essay in academic German. The written project is complemented by an oral defence of the project in German. Students attend weekly seminars on research skills and individual supervision tutorials.

Assessment method: research project (5,000-6,000 words) and viva.
This module develops students’ ability to analyse film in a socio-historical context. It aims to deepen understanding and appreciation of film as an art form and as a medium to express and reflect discourses on German history as well as current social developments in Germany. Currently, the module focuses on the cinematic portrayal of German division and unification. It touches on questions of memory politics and introduces students to relevant theoretical concepts in that area.

Assessment method: 2-hour written, video based examination at the end of the Teaching Period (50%), 5 written tasks to be completed during teaching time, in weeks without seminars (10% each).

This module builds on the level 2 Post war Germany module as well as first-hand experience acquired during the Year Abroad. Students enhance their familiarity with the popular culture of Germany and Austria from a variety of perspectives: art, literature, music, media, society, politics, and philosophy.

Assessment method: essay.
This module follows on the themes introduced in ‘German Popular Culture’. Topic areas include the culture of the German Democratic Republic, film, the relationship of art and morality, tensions between art and politics, and the history of literature and poetry in the Federal Republic. Students will gain a deep understanding of the role of culture as a mediator between society and politics.

Assessment method: essay.
The module addresses the main areas of German-Jewish history, including the emergence of a distinct Jewish-German culture since the late Middle Ages, the Jewish struggle for civil rights in the German-speaking countries during the nineteenth century and developments in the twentieth century. By focusing on biographies of Jewish women and men who helped to shape German and Austrian societies the module will also analyse the way the German-Jewish community saw and sees itself.

Assessment method: 3000-word essay in German and an oral presentation.

Aston is 6th for Languages Graduate Level Destinations sixth months after Graduation - Guardian 2013

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 German, 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, please see the Translation Studies French and German 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 French 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 International 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

Graduate Profile

Graduate Profile

Stuart Brown

BSc Translation Studies - French and German

After graduation, I returned to Daimler's Corporate Language Management department in Stuttgart and continued translating owner's manuals and highly technical computer-based training programs before being headhunted in 2011 by the Anglokom Institut, where I currently hold the position of Office Manager.


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Fees and funding



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