Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating MSc

  • Delivery: Full Time, Part Time, Per course
  • Programme type: Taught Programme
  • Study location: Edinburgh
  • Entry date: September


Our Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating programme is designed to provide students with the specialist training required to work as a professional interpreter and/or translator in a variety of professional contexts. Students work in both directions between Chinese and English and follow core subjects covering:

  • Conference Interpreting
  • Translation Practice (Chinese-English)
  • Translation & Interpreting Studies

Programme revisions for 2015 entrants

Over the past year we have been listening to feedback from students, graduates and the professions and as a result have made a number of changes which will be effective from September 2015.

The key change is fewer mandatory courses and a much broader range of optional courses in professionally relevant subjects meaning students can choose exactly which areas they would like to specialise in and can tailor the programme to their interests and their professional needs.


Students benefit from excellent facilities for interpreting and translating, including state-of-the-art interpreting and language laboratories, digital resources for interpreting, and a range of Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) software packages.

Programme duration

Mode of Study MSc PG Diploma
Full-time 12 months 9 months
Part-time 24 months 21 months

Professional recognition

Heriot-Watt is a member of Conférence Internationale permanente d’Instituts Universitaires de Traducteurs et Interprètes (CIUTI) which is an inter­na­tional asso­ci­a­tion of uni­ver­sity insti­tutes with trans­la­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion pro­grammes. CIUTI is ded­i­cated to excel­lence in trans­la­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion — both in training and research. Mem­ber­ship requires ful­fil­ment of strict qual­ity cri­te­ria and is a dis­tinct seal of quality.

Programme content

We have made some changes to the programme for September 2015 entrants.

The main change is that there is now much broader range of optional courses in professionally relevant subjects. This means students can choose the areas they want to specialise thus tailoring their programme to their interests and their professional needs.

Students work in both directions between Chinese and English.

Semester 1 Semester 2
Applied Professional Skills for Conference InterpretersConference Interpreting (Chinese-English)
Translation Practice Chinese-English 1Translation Practice Chinese-English 2
 Translation and Interpreting Studies

Two optional courses
to be chosen from a range including:

  • Translation Technologies
  • Liaison & Public Service Interpreting
  • Business Communication
  • International Politics
  • Intercultural Communication in the Workplace
  • Cross-cultural Perspectives on Society
  • Global Heritage
  • Beginner language courses in French, German, Spanish, Arabic, British Sign Language, Gaelic

One optional course
to be chosen from a range including:

  • Subtitling
  • Liaison Interpreting for Business
  • Localisation & Technical Writing
  • Intercultural Perspectives on Sustainable Development
  • Project Management
  • Beginner language courses in French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language, Gaelic

Optional courses

Students choosethree optional courses from a range that includes beginners’ language options as well as professional specialisation options such as Liaison & Public Service Interpreting, Intercultural Communication in the Workplace, and Subtitling.

Guest speakers

Talks by guest speakers are an integral part of the MSc Interpreting and Translating programmes.

They cover a wide range of subject areas related to translating and interpreting, including academic, research and practical issues such as working as a freelance translator and setting up a translating business.


Mini-conferences enable students to experience interpreting in a 'live' conference situation. Half of the students provide simultaneous and consecutive interpretation for speeches. The other half participate actively in the discussion in their mother tongue. In the second hour of the conference students change from being participants to working in the booth and vice-versa.

Applied Professional Skills for Conference Interpreters

Semester 1(mandatory)

The course aims are to help learners develop mastery of the skills and techniques of conference interpreting (consecutive and simultaneous), including a number of key transferable skills such as public speaking, note-taking and oral summarising.

Translation Practice Chinese-English 1

Semester 1(mandatory)

This course develops mastery of the skills and techniques of translating between Chinese and English (and vice versa) to professional standards through study of a number of text types and genres and practice in translating these text types and genres.

Conference Interpreting (Chinese-English)

Semester 2(mandatory)

Includes workshops to practise consecutive and simultaneous interpreting following a set programme of appropriate speeches as well as miniconferences at which students participate as speakers, as well as practise their simultaneous and consecutive interpreting

Translation Practice Chinese-English 2

Semester 2(mandatory)

Further development and practise of the skills and techniques of translating between Chinese and English to professional standards through study of a number of text types and genres and practice in translating these text types and genres.

Translation & Interpreting Studies

Semester 2(mandatory)

The course covers the major theoretical areas in Translation & Interpreting Studies, as well as various models of text processing and translating and interpreting. The course also looks at the relevance and applicability of this to the practical concerns of the translator/interpreter.

Your career

  • Video 1

Graduate profiles

Helen Liu

  • Degree MSc Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating
  • Present jobChinese Translator with Direct Ferries
Helen Liu

Tell us about your current job

I started this job as translator helping the company to translate their 2 major websites into Chinese. Now my job is more focused on the marketing and sales side of the Asian and Australian market. I also do some freelance translations and interpretation in my own time.


How is your work influencing tomorrow's world?

I would like to think I’m helping to spread information of this industry to the Asian market and maybe even be able to encourage Asian ferry operators to optimise and regulate the way they run the business.


What was your experience of doing a postgraduate degree at Heriot-Watt University?

It was probably the most enjoyable time of my life. I was away from home in a foreign country and there was so much to learn on this beautiful campus surrounded by amazing people and friendly helpful staff.


Do you think your Heriot-Watt postgraduate experience has given you an edge in your chosen field?

My MSc Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating qualification helped me get straight into freelance translation and interpreting. The actual translation and interpreting skills that we learnt from the course all proved to be very practical.


What advice would you give to a PG student considering embarking on their journey at Heriot-Watt?

It’s a quick and intensive year! Show your interest and determination and the staff will be there to help you make the most out of it. You’ll have no regrets!


Career opportunities

Typical careers our MSc Interpreting and Translating graduates go on to include: 

  • Conference Interpreters
  • Public Service Interpreters
  • Translators
  • Civil servants in international organisations as well as national organisations in China

Entry requirements

1.  Native / near-native command of English plus native / near-native command of Chinese

2.  Good degree or equivalent in a relevant language subject.


Entrance tests

All suitable applicants will be interviewed and undergo a short test, usually via Skype or telephone.

English language requirements

Non-native speakers of English must provide evidence of their English language ability. This must be IELTS 7.0, or equivalent, with at least 6.5 in all components. A score of 6.0 in writing may be accepted if the applicant performs well in the entrance test.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for 2016 entry (by residency status)
Status*Full-timePart-timePer Course
Scotland / Non-UK EU£6640£830
England/Northern Ireland/Wales£6640£830

* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.

Scholarships & bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate taught scholarships and postgraduate research scholarships.