BSc Translation Studies - German and Spanish 

Why choose this course?

  • 2nd  (84%) for Graduate Level Destinations six months after graduation, Guardian, 2014
  • 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
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4 years full-time with integrated year abroad

UCAS Code:

Typical Offers
A Levels:
 ABB - BBB from 3 A-levels, including German and Spanish 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 German 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 German and Spanish or equivalent.

BTEC: National Extended Diploma DDD.   A-level grade B in German 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 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.
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%).

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.

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.

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%)

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.
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.

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 German 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 German 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.''

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

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.

Contact Details

Tel: 0121 204 3777

Graduate Profile

Graduate 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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