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Online course

Working with Translation: Theory and Practice

Explore what it means to communicate in multiple languages in a variety of contexts, and discover your inner translator.


  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No certificate


  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Working with Translation: Theory and Practice

Why join the course?

From health to the justice system, from the voluntary sector to sport and the arts, we all increasingly live and work in contexts where people speak more than one language.

Established as a profession from the third millennium BCE, translation is one of the most fundamental of human activities, allowing us to interact with one another within and across cultures. We all encounter translation in our daily life, whether we speak many languages or just one.

Whether you regularly work with translators and interpreters in your job, find yourself occasionally acting as a translator or mediator, are considering translation as a possible route of professional development, or simply ponder about the ever-present interplay of languages and cultures around you, you will benefit from this course.

Understand the basics of translation

Drawing on the latest research and contributions from professionals, the course will help you understand what translation is and what it does. You’ll learn a wealth of practical tips and explore resources, covering topics like ‘What is translation?’, ‘Who translates and for whom?’, ‘Where does translation take place?’ and ‘How can we get translation right?’

Learn what successful translation is

You will learn about the key elements of the translation process, from a successful briefing to quality measures, while also gaining awareness of translation ethics and standards.

You will explore why translation sometimes goes wrong, and find out how you can avoid – or address – translation problems. And you will be constantly encouraged to relate the learning to your personal experiences of translation.

Discover how to communicate more effectively

By focusing on the pervasive nature of translation and interpreting, this course will allow you to become a more effective communicator: someone who is aware of the role of languages in a variety of contexts, including the health sector, government and law enforcement, multicultural communities, tourism, sport and the arts.

Who knows - you may even discover your own ‘inner translator’ in the process.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsWhat do a street in one of today's global cities, the manual for the latest appliance you bought, a decent science fiction movie, or the dressing room of a top football or rugby club have in common? They're all multilingual spaces, the spaces of translation, whether you see it or not. The first image that comes to mind when you think of a professional translator is that of the professional interpreter at the European Union or the United Nations. Think of the last ten people that you met this morning on your way to work. The bus driver or the taxi driver who took you there, the person who made you a coffee. The chances are, there were all multi-lingual.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds The truth is that translators really come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And in the next four weeks, you will discover that translators are found in all walks of life, all around the world, and they can be men women, and children, who act as translators, often without even realizing it. Very often, people only notice translations when things go wrong. For example, a mistranslation can cause diplomatic tensions. This would suggest that all other translation is simply good. Yet the question, what makes a good translation, is far more complex than that. The stereotypical translator, interpreter looks a little bit like me, female, youngish, often bespectacled, sitting in a booth with headphones on, and with a look of extreme concentration.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds We do not often stop to think about how translation works or about what it means to be an interpreter, to be a translator, or perhaps to work with professional or improvised translators. If you look closely enough, you will see that translation is everywhere. And possibly, there's a translator hidden away in each and every one of you.

What topics will you cover?

  • Definitions and metaphors of translation
  • Varieties of translation, for example: phonetic, interlingual and cultural translation
  • Translators in history
  • The role of translators
  • Professional ethics and codes of conduct
  • Where translation takes place
  • Writing a successful translation commission
  • The nature of quality in translation

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explore the variety of definitions of translation and their implications, as well as common misconceptions.
  • Collaborate with other learners to share examples of translation and interpreting drawn from daily life, and put them into context.
  • Describe the diverse roles of translators, interpreters and localisers.
  • Reflect on the spaces in which translation takes place and their bearing on practice.
  • Design a commission or briefing for a translator/interpreter, ensuring that all the necessary components are in place.
  • Evaluate differing conceptions of "quality" in translation.

Who is the course for?

There are no special requirements for this course but an interest in language and translation would be beneficial.

Who will you learn with?

Loredana Polezzi

I am Professor of Translation Studies in the School of Modern Languages at Cardiff University and a member of the Transnationalizing Modern Languages research project, supported by the UK's AHRC.

Cristina Marinetti

I’m a lecturer in Translation at Cardiff where I convene our very popular MA. My area of expertise is translation and and the performing arts and I have worked as a translator in Italy and the UK.

Dorota Goluch

I'm a Lecturer in Translation at Cardiff University, where I'm involved in translation training as well as research on literary & cultural translation. I've also worked as a translator and localiser.

Who developed the course?

Cardiff University is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities and is ranked within the top 150 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £49.00

Statement of Participation £34.00

Estimate prices in preferred currency

Charges to your account will be made in GBP. Prices in local currency are provided as a convenience and are only an estimate based on current exchange rates.