ML1TRANS-Thinking Translation: History and Theory

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Daniela La Penna


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module introduces students to the history of translation as a literary practice, as well as to the main theoretical approaches to it and the influential concepts that have been used to reflect on translation practice.


The aim of this module is to introduce students to the scholars and practitioners who pioneered the reflection on translation. Emphasis will also be placed on key thinkers who have developed contemporary translation theory. In carefully selected case studies, we will assess the relationship between practice and theory, and will place this relationship within the cultural, intellectual and political contexts of their time. The historical approach to translation will allow students to develop a critical awareness of the role played by: genres, readership, institutional influences, market constraints, gender attitudes and discourses, purpose. In seminars, we will explore different textual typologies to offer students the opportunity to address and evaluate the challenges facing translators when dealing with literary, scientific, philosophical and political texts.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the course, it is expected that students will be able to:

• demonstrate a clear understanding of key theoretical concepts relevant to the practice of translation

• articulate awareness of different types of texts and approaches and strategies for translating them

• engage critically with ideas presented in lectures, group discussions and secondary materials

• demonstrate an ability to integrate theoretical ideas with evidence from textual practice

Additional outcomes:

Having successfully completed the module you will be able to:

  • communicate ideas and arguments orally and in writing in a competent fashion

  • demonstrate interpersonal skills whilst working with others in the investigation of problems, and in the presentation of arguments and evidence

  • demonstrate self-confidence and self-awareness both in collaborative activities and independent study

  • work effectively to deadlines

  • develop key research skills, including scholarly information retrieval (using secondary works, the internet and discipline-specific or other relevant databases)

  • The module and the wider degree programme are committed to developing a broad range of graduate attributes. These include knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, independent cognitive capacity, and transferable skills including personal efficiency and communication.

Outline content:

  • Introduction to the history of translation as a literary genre

  • Introduction to major developments in discourses on translation from a variety of geographical and linguistic areas.

  • Critical analysis of a selection of translated texts in a variety of genres and contexts.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Depending on staff’s availability, normally, there will be twenty weekly two-hour sessions of lectures, seminars and group work in the Autumn and five 2-hour sessions of lectures and seminars in Spring Terms. A two-hour revision class will also be scheduled in the Summer Term. Within each session, students will be expected to critically engage with information given in lecture format and with the prescribed readings, to engage in group/pair work on selected texts, and to present their ideas to the whole class. Such group/pair work is designed to prepare students for the course assessment.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10 10 2
Seminars 10
Guided independent study: 53 63 52
Total hours by term 73 73 54
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 90
Report 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Essay 1:1,500-2,000 word essay (word count does not include bibliography) . The essay will be conducted in two stages. Students will submit their essay in week 12 of Autumn Term for formative feedback. Students will then be required to redraft and improve their essays, taking into account the tutor feedback, and resubmit for summative assessment in week 5 of Spring Term. The Spring term essay will contribute 40% of the final mark of the module

Report (reflective report): 500 words, due week 5 Spring Term. In this reflective report, students will explain how they have acted on the tutor feedback on the formative essay submitted in week 12 of Autumn Term. This report will contribute 10% of the final mark for the module

Essay 2:1,500-2,000 word essay (word count does not include bibliography) . The essay will be submitted in the Summer Term and will be based on the topics discussed in the Spring term. Students may choose to write instead a  2000-word critical commentary of a key contribution in translation studies. This component will contribute 50% of the final mark of the module

Formative assessment methods:

As explained above, students will submit a formative essay in week 12 of Autumn Term and feedback will be provided. Students will then improve and resubmit the same essay for summative assessment in Spring Term. This formative assessment is compulsory as students need the tutor feedback in order to write their reflective commentary.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:


    Reassessment arrangements:

    Reassessment in August, in the event of failure in this module and of failure in Part 1 as a whole. Coursework bearing a confirmed mark of 40% or more can be carried forward. Coursework for reassessment must be resubmitted by 12 NOON on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed on the third Friday of August, by 12 NOON on the first working day thereafter.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 11 June 2019


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