Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating MSc/Diploma

  • 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 (Chinese-English)
  • Translation Practice (Chinese-English)
  • Theoretical Foundations of Translating, Interpreting & International Politics with Text Practicies
  • Translation & Interpreting Studies with Text Practices

In addition students choose an optional subject in each semester. This includes the option to study a new language from scratch or to choose from specialised interpreting and translating options..


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

Students work in both directions between Chinese and English.

Semester 1 Semester 2
Applied Professional Skills for Conference InterpretersConference Interpreting (Chinese-English)
Translation Practice 1 (Chinese-English)Translation Practice 2 (Chinese-English)
Theoretical Foundations of Translating, Interpreting & International Politics with Text PracticesTranslation and Interpreting Studies with Text Practicies
optional courseoptional course

Optional courses

Students choose an optional course in each semester from a range that includes beginners’ language options as well as professional specialisation options such as Liaison & Public Service Interpreting, Interpreting and Intercultural Communication, and Subtitling. The options available to you depend very much on your background.

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.


Your career

Helen Liu

  • Degree MSc Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating
  • Present Job Chinese Translator with Direct Ferries

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!


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.


English language

Non-native speakers of English must provide evidence of their English language ability. This must be IELTS 7.0, or equivalent, with no element below 6.5.

All suitable applicants will be interviewed via Skype or telephone.


2-year programme

Applicants who do not have a sufficient level of intercultural skills or sufficient experience in academic writing in the British context may be admitted to the two-year programme, in which the first year is spent studying academic English and background courses for translating and interpreting.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for 2015 entry (by residency status)
Status*Full-timePart-timePer Course
Scotland / Non-UK EU£6460£3570£890
England/Northern Ireland/Wales£6460£3570£890

* 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