M.A. Public Service Interpreting

Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, University of Surrey

Application deadline: As soon as possible
Tuition fee:
  • € 7,550 / Year (EEA)
  • € 15,190 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: September  2014
Credits: 60 ECTS
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time, Full-time

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The MA Public Service Interpreting (PSI) fills a gap in academic interpreter training throughout the UK. Postgraduate interpreting programmes have generally focused on conference interpreting for international business and supranational institutions such as the EU or the UN. However, recent migration movements have led to a burgeoning demand for interpreting in intra-social settings, including health care services, courts and police stations, immigration offices, local community and social welfare centres. In the UK, this type of interpreting has become known as public service interpreting.

Learning from professionals and academics in a supportive environment, you will be entering a programme which is dedicated to the specific requirements and complexities of PSI, with a focus on the wide range of relevant legal settings (the courts, the police service and the immigration service).

Through a combination of background lectures and practice-based modules, the programme covers the principles of interpreting and translation, the professional background for public service interpreters, and offers regular language pair-specific interpreting and translation practice in small groups.

As a special feature, the programme pays particular attention to emerging forms of remote interpreting via telephone and videoconference link. These forms of interpreting are an increasingly important feature in the professional landscape (for example, to speed up legal proceedings or to facilitate medical aid in a multilingual society), for which adequate and informed training is urgently needed.

The programme is offered in English paired with Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish, according to demand.


Compulsory modules

Applied Interpreting Skills (language pair-specific)

This module is concerned with spoken-language interpreting between English and your chosen language in business-related settings. It provides you with the practical knowledge and skills required to perform interpreting tasks professionally and effectively in a wide variety of relevant communicative situations.

Interpreting and Translating in Legal Settings (language pair-specific)

This module focuses on the practice of public service interpreting and translation between English and your chosen language. It helps you to learn what is required of a public service interpreter and enables you to interpret and translate competently and confidently in legal settings such as police stations, courts and immigration situations.

Legal Settings and Institutions

This module provides an introduction to the English legal system and covers in detail the structures and procedures of those legal institutions that are most relevant in a public service interpreting context. The module enables you to familiarise yourself with the major principles, underlying concepts and associated terminology of English law.

Interpreting Studies

This module provides a systematic framework for understanding the major principles and challenges of interpreting, the role of the interpreter and the nature of comprehension, decision-making and production processes involved in interpreting. It enables you to apply this framework to practical interpreting tasks.

Public Service Interpreting Trends and Issues

This module introduces you to the professional dimension of public service interpreting and to current trends in the interpreting landscape, including remote interpreting. In addition, it provides you with opportunities for observation and/or hands-on experience of interpreting in real-life situations and hands-on exploration of different forms of remote interpreting (via telephone and videoconference links).

Optional Modules

In addition to the compulsory modules, you will be able to select optional modules according to your specific interests. You may, for example, study the role of language in different social settings, broaden your view on translation studies or extend your specialist interpreting or translation expertise (subject to language proficiency and demand).

The Postgraduate Certificate, which is offered on a part-time basis, focuses on interpreting and translation in a PSI context and on legal settings and institutions.


This module allows you to specialise in an aspect of the programme of particular interest by writing a topic-based dissertation or doing a commentary based on an interpreting assignment. Successful completion of the module requires close collaboration with a supervisor and good planning and organisation skills.


Native English speakers: a minimum of a UK 2.2 honours degree, or equivalent, in the relevant language or another relevant subject. Speakers of other languages: an equivalent to a minimum of a UK 2.2 honours degree in English or another relevant subject. In exceptional cases, alternative qualifications and professional experience may be considered. Non-native speakers of English will also normally be required to have IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent), with a minimum of 6.5 in writing and speaking, and 6.0 in all other components. A subsequent condition for all applicants meeting these requirements is the successful completion of an interpreting aptitude test.

English language requirements

IELTS minimum overall: 6.5

IELTS minimum by component:

Reading: 6.0 Writing: 6.5 Speaking: 6.5 Listening: 6.0

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 6.5


Departmental scholarships are available on a competitive basis as a contribution towards fees. Further details on request.



Students may join the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL) as student members.


Links with Professional Associations

The Centre for Translation Studies is proud of its active links with the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL). The Centre is a corporate member of the ITI and supports its activities by contributing to courses in continuing professional development. By working together with the ITI and the CIoL, the Centre is keen to promote all branches of translation and interpreting and to work towards establishing and maintaining the highest possible standards.

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