Literary Translation

Course Description
The MPhil in Literary Translation is a unique opportunity to develop a wide range of practical skills related to translation, while also building a strong understanding of the theory and history of translation thought and a keen critical eye. The programme is based in the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation, where students work alongside our partners: Ireland's institute for the promotion of translation, Literature Ireland and Ireland's foremost publisher of literary translations, Dalkey Archive Press. Our students are ideally placed to build professional networks and to see the translation industry from the inside.

The course's name uses the term "literary". However, this should not be taken to indicate only novels and poems. In fact, the course's definition of "literature" is so broad as to include anything that involves human creativity, including video games, subtitles, speeches, comics, and songs.

Translation, and especially the kind of creative translation we develop as part of the MPhil in literary translation, has been a subject of huge interest in recent years, both within academia and in industry. At the same time, the demand for well-qualified translators continues to grow internationally, and this form of translation more than any other is coming to be valued as something that is not easily done by machines.

The MPhil in Literary Translation equips you with the skill to apply translation theory to your literary translation practice in creative and original ways. You will craft a unique portfolio of translations under the guidance of academic and professional mentors. You will take part in team projects, aimed at simulating the realities of the translation industry, and you will be trained in the latest specialist translation tools.

On this varied and demanding course, you will be provided with a wealth of opportunities to develop your understanding of translation, expand your practical translation skills, and prepare either to work in translation or to undertake advanced research.

Entry requirements

•A minimum 2.1 honours class degree from an Irish university or its international equivalent.
•A demonstrable working knowledge of two or more languages
•For candidates who are not native English speakers and have not completed a degree through the medium of English, a minimum IELTS score of at least 6.5 in each category or its equivalent.


1 year full-time

Careers or further progression

Careers and Employability
There is a strong and growing demand for highly-trained translators with the creativity and linguistic prowess to create aesthetically appealing work. Such translators are already sought out not only in the field of literature, but also in the private and public sector, in international organisations, media, and education. We have close ties with many such organisations, and give our students regular opportunities to interact with them.

Further enquiries

Course Director
Dr. James Hadley
Telephone Number
+353-1-896 3225

Subjects taught

Each student takes all six of the core modules, and chooses two of the option modules. Each student also produces a portfolio and a dissertation under the supervision of specialists.

Core Modules
Theory and History of Translation
Linguistic and Textual Analysis
Aspects of the Profession
Interlingual Technologies
Research Training Seminar
Literary Translation Portfolio

Option Modules
This list may vary year by year

Michaelmas Term (autumn)
Discovering the Other: East-West Encounters in Translation History
Translation Studies Methodologies
Dantean Echoes
Europe and Its Identities: A Cultural History
Medieval and Renaissance Foundations of Western Europe
The Russian Avant-Garde

Hilary Term (spring)
Madness, Nonsense and Identity in Literature
European Cinema and Identity
Don Quixote: Romance, Comedy and the Modern Novel
Food, Drink and European Cultural Identities
The Communist Century: Culture, History, Representations
Postmodernist Literature in East and Central Europe

Each student crafts a portfolio of 8-10 literary texts of their choice, together with short commentaries on the strategies used and how effective these were in reaching their intended goal.

Each student completes a 15-20,000-word dissertation. This dissertation can take the form either of a theoretical analysis of one or more translations, or an experimental translation and commentary, in which a student posits a new way to translate, and demonstrates it.

Teaching and Learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, and practical workshops. The modules are assessed by essays, presentations and projects. There is no examination.

Working languages
English is the common language for all our students, and students must have a demonstrably very high level of English to apply. We do our best to accommodate as broad a range of working languages as possible for our student translators. Our students regularly work with the following languages:


Places are limited. Therefore, you are encouraged to contact us as early as possible to check whether your working languages are still available for the coming year. We are happy to accept queries from applicants working with languages not listed here, though we cannot guarantee availability.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at Trinity, please visit the Postgraduate Scholarships Website.

The programme develops eight key competences that build the practical, professional, and theoretical skill base of students:

1. Transfer competence
The ability to identify issues in translating texts, and to formulate strategies to achieve identified goals.

2. Language competence
The ability to use many variations of both the source and target languages to a very high level of competency.

3. Textual competence
The ability to distinguish and reproduce literary genres and styles.

4. Heuristic competence
The ability to gather the linguistic and thematic knowledge needed to translate.

5. Literary-cultural competence
The ability to apply knowledge about differences between source and target cultures, literary movements and genres while producing translations.

6. Professional competence
The ability to gather knowledge and understanding of working in the field of literary translation.

7. Evaluative competence
The ability to assess and evaluate translation choices and translations' impacts.

8. Research competence
The ability to conduct methodical and rigorous research in translation studies.

These competencies enable our students to pursue careers in the fields of translation and interpreting, as well as localisation, project management, editing, and promoting. Recent graduates have gone on to work as translators, editors and project managers, to work for NGOs, and to pursue advanced research in the form of a PhD.

Why study this degree at Trinity?
Located in the heart of multicultural Dublin, Trinity College provides a uniquely rich environment for studying and researching translation. Trinity has fostered many literary giants over the centuries such as Nobel Prize winner, Samuel Beckett, and has one of the best records for teaching languages in the world. Trinity was even the first university in the world to introduce the study of modern continental languages in 1776.

Our students are taught by translation theorists and language specialists with a highly diverse range of research interests. They also have direct contact with practising translators through our Literary Translator in Residence Scheme, and busy programme of events.

The MPhil in Literary Translation offers an unrivalled degree of freedom. Our students customise their own programmes, follow their own research interests in assignments and dissertations, translate what and how they want to translate in portfolios, and focus on honing the professional skills that are most valuable to them.

Trinity students are highly valued by the translation industry. We organise workshops with our industry partners throughout the year, and offer a long list of opportunities to network and collaborate from the beginning until the end of the degree.

Application date

Closing Date 30 June 2020

Application and next steps

You may apply at any point between the applications being opened in the autumn, and the closing date being reached in the summer. However, the course is popular, and applications are handled on a first-come first-served basis. So, you are strongly advised to apply early in order to avoid disappointment.

We do our best to provide applicants with an answer within 3 weeks of receiving their full applications. Partial applications that are missing any of the materials listed below cannot be considered until they are completed.

Required Materials

For this course, you will need to prepare all these materials to apply:

a) Stage 1 Document: The Stage 1 Document is available here. It includes sections on the languages you intend to work with, a personal statement, and a sample translation. Please complete it in full without altering the format of the form.

When we assess your application, we are looking for evidence that you:
are able to pick up on and reproduce the idiosyncrasies of a literary text in another language

have a broad lexical resource

can create a translation with a high degree of cohesion

can understand and use a large number of grammatical structures accurately

understand what experience, understanding and skills you can bring to the programme

know why you would like to study literary translation at the postgraduate level

know why you would like to study literary translation specifically at Trinity

can show how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of this programme

know what you would like to do with your degree

The personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme delivers. Students whose aims fall outside the scope of the course are likely to be rejected on ethical grounds.

b) Sample of academic writing: You will require a sample of around 2,500 words of your best academic writing in English. This writing can be on any subject. It is used by our assessment panel to see whether you have the skills required to pass this course.

When we assess your application, we are looking for evidence that:

you are able to build an academic argument with a research question or thesis statement and conclusions

you are able to create a logical structure to your argument

you can critically analyse others' options and the evidence you see

you have a good working understanding of the apparatus of academic writing, including referencing, quoting, signposting, and using a bibliography

your command of academic English is strong

This course is highly intensive. The sample of academic writing is your opportunity to show that you have the skills required to pass the course. Students whose sample of academic writing do not demonstrate these skills to a sufficient extent are rejected on ethical grounds.

c) English language qualifications Unless you have completed a degree through the medium of English or are a native speaker, you are required to prove your proficiency with the language.Trinity prefers IELTS, but will accept alternative tests run by international organisations, such as TOEFL.

d) Degree certificate(s) You will require the certificates that prove you have completed all of the degrees you mention in your application. If you haven't yet completed your degree, you can still apply and supply these documents when you have them.

e) Degree transcripts You will need official transcripts showing all of the components you have completed as part of your degree(s). If these official documents are in a language other than English, they may need to be translated by a certified translator.

f) Two reference letters You should ask two people who are not related to you to write letters of reference, recommending you for this course and laying out why you would be a good candidate.

g) Online application form Once you have all of these materials, please click on the link below, fill out the online application form in full, and upload the materials as attachments.

Once you have all of the materials listed above, please click on the link below, fill out the online application form in full, and upload the materials as attachments.

Enrolment and start dates

Next Intake September 2020

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!