Translation Studies MPhil/ PhD


Research students do not follow a prescribed course of study but carry out their own research project under the guidance of personal Supervisors. All research students have both a Principal Supervisor and a Subsidiary Supervisor. You will normally register in the department of your Principal Supervisor. In the case of joint supervision a student can register in either department.  Research skills training is an essential part of the programme. See the section below for details.

Research degrees

  • Suitably qualified candidates can study for the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Translation Studies.
  • The PhD requires a minimum of three years’ full-time study (four years’ part-time).
  • The MPhil is a research degree of the shorter type, normally requiring two years’ full-time study (four years part-time).
  • Research topics can be in translation theory and history covering virtually any European language.
  • Candidates normally propose their own research topics. For topics involving non-European languages and cultures, joint supervision with the School of Oriental and African Studies may be possible.
  • Students can study on a full-time or part-time basis; part-time non-residential registration is also possible, subject to Graduate School approval.
  • All research students initially register for the MPhil degree; they can upgrade to the PhD after a minimum of one year’s full-time study (or two years part-time), provided their work is of a sufficient standard.


Normally we expect PhD applicants to have a First or very high Upper Second in their first degree (or equivalent) and a Distinction or indication of distinction-level work at Masters level (or equivalent) in translation studies, in a language and culture subject or in another relevant field. All PhD applicants should present a convincing, well-argued and carefully formulated proposal and should have excellent standards of academic English.

Further information:

Please note that you may need to provide proof of proficiency in English with your application.

For academic advice contact either the relevant department or Dr Geraldine Brodie. There is no formal deadline for applications for admission as a research student. This is because research students can start at any time of the year, i.e. they do not necessarily start in September/October. For those candidates planning to apply for funding, however, initial contact with a subject area convenor or prospective supervisor should be made in October or November.

The admission process requires an interview with your prospective supervisor(s) and another academic member of staff. Once you have submitted your application to UCL, your prospective supervisor will contact you to set up an interview. It can be conducted in person or via skype (for applicants who are not currently based in London).

More information about the application process.


Study for the degree of MPhil/PhD in Translation Studies results in the submission of a thesis. The thesis is a book-length work based on research.

A PhD thesis may be up to 100,000 words and must form a distinct contribution to knowledge, show evidence of original thought and appropriate research, and be suitable for publication as submitted or in an abridged or modified form. 

A thesis for the degree of MPhil runs to approximately 60,000 words. It should be either a record of original work or a thorough and critical exposition of existing knowledge.


Recent and current work in translation studies within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities includes theses on such topics as:

  • Anglophone postcolonial novels in Polish translation 1980-2010. Dorota Goluch [supervised jointly with SSEES]
  • Creativity, translation and John Sinclair's 'open-choice' version 'idiom' principle. Marlies Prinzl [supervised jointly with SSEES]
  • Translating communication? Willy Kyrklund's Polyphemus. Anna Tebelius [supervised jointly with the Department of Scandinavian Studies]
  • A theory of audiovisual translation. Erik Skuggevik
  • Translation and nonsense: randomness, variation, evolution. Daniela Almansi [supervised jointly with SSEES]
  • Relay translation: traditional Chinese erotic fiction via German into English. Sherlon Ip Chi-Yin [supervised jointly with SOAS]
  • Intertextuality in translation. Dorothea Martens [PhD awarded 2009] 
  • Orientalism, Translation, Virtuality: Sanskrit classics in English and French, 1780-1880. Phrae Chittiphalangsri [PhD awarded 2009] 
  • Translation and power: Joseph Conrad in Chinese translation. Gloria Lee  Kwok-Kan [supervised jointly with SOAS] 
  • Translating Style: Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea in Chinese. Elaine Ng Yin-Ling [PhD awarded 2009]
  • The foundation of a theory of translation based on C.S. Peirce's semiotics. Ubaldo Stecconi [PhD awarded 2006] 
  • Pseudotranslations in Italy in the eighteenth century. Paolo Rambelli [PhD awarded 2005]
  • Translation and narration: computer-assisted analysis of two novels by Virginia Woolf and five French translations. Charlotte Bosseaux [PhD awarded 2004] 
  • Babysitting the Reader: translating fiction for girls, English into Dutch 1945-1995. Mieke Desmet [PhD awarded 2003]
  • Travelling Theory: French feminism in the Anglophone world, French structuralism in Turkey. Sebnem Susam-Sarajeva [PhD awarded 2002]
  • Intertextuality and genre: David Lodge’s campus novels in Spanish translation. Marta Guirao [PhD awarded 2002]
  • The Alien Within: translations of popular fiction into German during the Nazi regime. Kate Sturge [PhD awarded 2000]


The graduate programme in translation studies draws on the combined expertise of staff in the language and literature departments of the Arts and Humanities Faculty, in the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies (SLAIS) and in the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES). 

The library resources available to UCL students and researchers are unrivalled:

All these libraries are within a few minutes’ walking distance of UCL.


Research Project Proposals

Admission to a research degree programme is normally dependent on the submission of a detailed research project proposal.

The proposal, which in most cases will be a document of between 1000 and 3000 words, should cover such things as:

  • Area of research, with an indication of the scope, genres, themes, periods, authors and/or main texts
  • Research questions which the project will address
  • Methodology to be applied in addressing the research questions
  • Disciplinary and wider relevance of the project
  • Current state of knowledge in the relevant area, as recorded in key publications
  • Specific contribution to knowledge which the project intends to make
  • Practical aspects of the project, such as the location of relevant materials and an initial time-path
  • Your suitability to carry out the project.

Fees and Funding

Research Training

The UCL Graduate School offers a range of induction and skills training courses for all research students.

The Graduate School also hosts two Royal Literary Fund Fellows, professional authors who offer one-to-one tutorials in effective academic writing for both native and non-native speakers of English.

The School of Library, Archive and Information Studies (SLAIS) offers a web-based self-access course on ‘Information Resources for the Humanities’ through the electronic learning environment WebCT.

Translation-specific research training is available as well.

Students can attend various research training summer schools, including the two-week residential Translation Research Summer School (TRSS) which UCL runs jointly with the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh in the last two weeks of June every year.

UCL students can take part free of charge.