MA Literary Translation

"My year at UEA was one of the best of my life"

In their words

Ian McEwan, Creative Writing Graduate and Booker Prize winner


UEA has announced the launch of the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW), which contains the extensive personal archive of the Nobel Laureate, Doris Lessing, and literary material from other prominent authors such as Naomi Alderman, Tash Aw, Malcolm Bradbury, Amit Chaudhuri, J.D. Salinger, Roger Deakin, Lorna Sage, WG Sebald and the playwright Snoo Wilson.

Read It
What do Karl Knausgård, Valeria Luiselli and Clarice Lispector have in common with Jo Nesbø, Georg Trakl and Yoko Tawada? They’ve all been translated into English by graduates from the MA in Literary Translation at UEA!

The course focuses exclusively on literary translation and combines translation practice with translation theory. It provides an academic qualification for professional translators and is also a great basis for further research. Our innovative course was recently described by the award-winning poetry translator Dr Francis Jones as ‘deservedly a UK leader in literary translation studies’.

At its heart is a lively programme of literary translation workshops taught by leading practitioners in the field, such as Daniel Hahn, Don Bartlett and George Szirtes, and emerging literary figures such as Romy Fursland and Rosalind Harvey, founder of the Emerging Translators Network. Our students have gone on to become award-winning translators, writers, editors and academics.


We have been training literary translators for nearly two decades. This course combines a strong practical focus with serious reflection on stylistic, cultural and theoretical questions and is supported by the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT).

Many of our students go on to become published translators, while others work in publishing or the media. The MA Literary Translation will also provide you with a very good basis for PhD study, should you choose to take your studies further. You will also benefit from our annual programme of readings, visits and residencies from writers and translators.

We aim to support you in gaining an understanding of the professional aspects of being a translator. In the three main modules that make up the course, and in special workshops with professional translators as well as in the BCLT Summer School, you will have plenty of opportunities to network and understand what exactly ‘being a translator’ involves. You will also have the opportunity to join the editing team for our journal Norwich Papers. At the end of your programme you will be asked to contribute a translation to the MALT Anthology, published by Gatehouse Press with the support of the BCLT.

This course can be taken full time over one year, or as a two-year part-time course.

Course structure

This course is framed by three modules: Translation Theory and History; Case Studies; and Process and Product in Translation. As well as exploring the history and theory of literary translation, in the Case Studies module you will examine translation across various genres and consider the ways texts are disseminated across different cultures. The creative-critical format of this module will also allow you to analyse translations closely and practise your own translation skills.

The Process and Product in Translation module allows you to approach translation from a more experimental angle than you might be used to. Considering writing, rewriting and textual intervention, you will explore process not only as it relates to doing a translation, but as something that may be incorporated into the text itself.

You will be able to supplement these modules with an optional module, which you will choose from the exciting list of modules offered across the MA programmes of the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing. These include Creative-Critical Writing; Adaptation and Interpretation; and Publishing: A Practical Approach.

From the second semester you will also be asked to assemble a dossier of your translations for submission to a tutor, who will be an expert in the source or target language of your choice. The year-long practical translation workshops help you prepare for your dissertation, which can take the form either of a critical project or of a translation with commentary.


Each of your modules will be assessed by an essay or project work. The projects may involve working on a translation with commentary. You will also write a 15,000–20,000-word dissertation, which will be either a translation with commentary or a critical essay. You will begin work on your dissertation, with the guidance of a supervisor, in the spring, and you’ll hand in at the beginning of September.

Course tutors and research interests

Many members of the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing are practising translators or work in translation such as: 

Prof. Duncan Large: Translation and translation studies (especially historical translation theory); comparative literature (especially Anglo-German literary relations); history of thought in the German-speaking world (especially Friedrich Nietzsche and French Nietzsche interpretation).

Cecilia Rossi: Literary translation (especially poetry translation), Latin American Literature (especially poetry); literary translation and creativity (theoretical, pedagogical and practical applications); the writer’s archive and the literary translator; literary translation and cultural memory.

Thomas Boll: Theory and practice of translation; the Latin American, European and Anglo-American avant-garde; contemporary Spanish American poetry and fiction; cultural politics of the Cold War; the baroque; metaphor.

Jo Catling: Modern German literature, especially poetry; Rainer Maria Rilke; modernism and the Weimar Republic; women’s writing; gender and creativity; translation.

We also have a very dynamic body of PhD students working in literary translation, contributing to making our School a vibrant place for translation study and work. 

Where next?

An MA in Literary Translation will be a valuable qualification when it comes to starting your career in the field. There is evidence that even firms specialising in technical or commercial translation value an MA in Literary Translation. For freelance work, it is definitely a bonus. While it is unlikely you will earn enough to live solely as a freelance translator in the first years after completing the programme, you might follow many of our graduates in combining freelance work with teaching, lecturing, librarianship, work in the media, or publishing. In these fields, too, this MA will give you an advantage.

Frequently asked questions

What languages can I work with on this course?

As a student on the MA Literary Translation you may work with any languages, as long as one of them is English. We have many language specialists in the School and across the UEA Humanities faculty, as well as external assessors.

Will I receive teaching on translation into and out of my chosen languages?

Not as part of the taught classes. We assume you have near-bilingual language competence. Our focus is on translation issues, questions and techniques. You will, however, produce several pieces of translation involving your chosen languages. And you will have a chance to take part in the Editing Workshops (another non-assessed element of the course) if translating into English, as well as the option to choose to write a translation with commentary for your dissertation.

Why would I want to become a literary translator?

Literary translation is a hugely enjoyable practice. If you translate contemporary authors, you will often have a lot of contact with ‘your’ authors. It is very flexible, and is ideal for combining with another job in a similar or separate field. It allows you to work from home (and in the train, in the doctor’s waiting room or at the beach). It is also relatively easy to become known in the translation world; you can cultivate contacts by joining the Emerging Translators Network in the first instance, visit the Literary Translation Centre at the London Book Fair, join the Translators Association, take part in debates and attend translation events. You might even come back to UEA to hold a workshop yourself.

What do our past students say?

The course was stimulating, enjoyable and I met some really interesting people. And it does lead to jobs! I've just done some extracts for an anthology on memory, edited by A. S. Byatt.' – Bridget Patterson

The year with literary translation was very special to me. It meant the fulfilment of a dream: spending twelve months talking and writing about my greatest passion – translation.’ – Henriette Heise

At the end of this well-organised MA course, I know why I’m translating the way I am.’ – Jon Lindsay Miles

Course Modules 2018/9

Students must study the following modules for 160 credits:

Name Code Credits


For this module you'll look at ways in which specific authors/works/genres pass into other cultures through translation. We will look at several genres and for each one, we will analyse the type, identify challenges in translating it, discuss strategies, and examine examples of works in that style, using close textual analysis to see how translators can tackle problems of linguistic, stylistic, and cultural difference. We will then practise translating texts from that genre. The course is both critical and creative. Genres may include comics, children's literature, drama, humour or crime, among others.




You will begin work on your dissertation at the end of the 2nd teaching semester if you are a full-time student, or earlier if part-time. Dissertations may take the form of either (i) a critical essay about an aspect of translation or (ii) a translation with critical discussion. The choice of research topic for the dissertation is made by the students in consultation with their course convenor. Supervision normally functions on the basis of one contact hour with the supervisor every three weeks throughout the summer.




How does the work of the literary translator differ from that of the original writer? What is editing and what is the role of the editor? How do we write a reader's report? These are some of the questions that we'll be addressing throughout the module, which is a combined research methodologies and workshop module. For the second, practical element of the module, you'll be taking part in a series of workshops led by practising translators. These will be on different aspects of translation, and will involve various genres. There is generally no preparation required for the workshops, but you'll be asked to find out as much as possible in advance about the workshop-holder's background and work. During the workshops you'll undertake translation exercises and participate in class discussion. Some workshops are on literary topics, but some also deal with other issues, such as approaching a publisher, which will help you develop your professional competence as a literary translator. The workshop programme will be distributed at the start of each semester and will be advertised on the British Centre for Literary Translation website. The methodologies component of the module will address aspects of the development of independent dissertation work. You'll be assessed by a pass/fail viva exam in early June (the date will be given in the course of the autumn semester).




Throughout this module you'll produce translations in conditions that encourage and facilitate reflection on the process and product of translation. You'll be encouraged to think experimentally, not only about the forms a finished translation might take, but also about the ways in which process might be incorporated into the translation. The module will have a workshop format and will culminate in a series of presentations of the projects on which you and your peers have chosen to work. In a series of sessions preceding the presentations you'll devote your time to the discussion and hands-on tackling of practical problems connected with translation and the projects ahead. You'll attend one class meeting at the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts and another at the Special Collections of the UEA Library. Throughout the semester you'll be encouraged to discuss a variety of texts, both critical and creative, that help illuminate the process and product of literary translation. You'll also be invited to circulate your own bibliographies (developed in relation to in-class presentations as well as the main project) to other members of the class, and to bring to our attention any text(s) you encounter that may be of particular relevance. Your final project will engage with the process of producing literary translation, and will comprise a scholarly discussion thereof illustrated by your own translations of a more or less experimental nature. The in-process project will be presented to the class for discussion and feedback in the second part of the semester.




You'll explore key issues in the history of the theory and practice of translation in the West. You'll explore the changes in the cultural status of translation from ancient times to the present, analysing the ways in which translations have contributed to the reception of texts, and focusing on some of the political, theological and philosophical debates which translations have provoked. In the second half of the module you'll focus on a range of contemporary debates in translation studies. You're encouraged to explore your own theoretical interests and present your findings in class. There is no foreign language requirement, and all materials are read in English.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Students may select a Semester 2 module only.

Name Code Credits


Critical reading and creative writing collide when adapting a text for performance in another medium. The very process forces a string of questions: Is it possible to separate a story from its expression? What, if any, are the obligations owed to the source text? Must the adaptation always be 'secondary'? Can we define a 'good' adaptation? The questions only grow more interesting if we consider changes in reception and more complex when we alter era or cultural setting. This module focuses on key questions in dramatic adaptation, establishing a foundation in basic theory and then focusing on readings of source works and screenings or performances of adaptations. Seminar discussions probe the choices offered by original texts and explore the possibilities and limitations inherent in different forms. In the later sessions, you will have the opportunity to workshop an adaptation for a final project. Writers are expected to produce scripts, while theatre directors will have to option to produce a script or a performance. The module is a must for scriptwriters, but no prior scriptwriting experience is necessary as the seminars teach the basic techniques of dramatic writing. Class workshop will further develop skills in the specific dramatic forms.




Various attempts at (sub-)categorising contemporary fiction interpret it as a departure from previous aesthetics or a response to political or historical events or movements: post-modern; post-colonial; post-feminist; post-communist; post-9/11; post-millenial; post-national; even post-post-modern etc. As a prefix, "post-" suggests supersedence rather than novelty; at worst it is merely an aspirational syllable. Its proliferation co-exists with more conventional attempts at temporal taxonomy such as monographs and student guides dedicated to specific decades. One way of reading "post"-something-or-other is to think of it as an engagement with, and critical reassessment of, the past it so assiduously hyphenates: its literary conventions, cultural heritage, philosophical traditions, political ideologies, and - paradoxically - its long shadows way beyond the present moment. The manifestations of these engagements and reassessments can be rather contradictory. The memory boom of the 1990s put paid to claims about "the end of history" or skepticism over Grand Narratives. The renewed popularity of the (neo)historical novel and period drama also chafes against the recent turn towards trauma studies. The effects of new market forces, media and digital technology on the form of writing and the construction of the "author" could also be seen as one of the legacies of modernism. A focus on mindfulness, ethics and affect sits uneasily alongside the necessity for art to provoke and push boundaries. Expressions of the regional contend with an increasing awareness of transnational subjects, diasporic identities and global issues, and some of the most interesting writing today comes from 'the East' or writers with hybrid origins and hyphenated identities. Can fiction still be formally inventive and how might it enter into dialogue with other art forms (photography, sculpture, painting, cinema)? In the light of the critical and commercial success of 'creative non-fiction' we might also want to ask precisely how narrative can perforate disciplinary and generic categories. On this module we will attempt to construct a (naturally provisional, selective and incomplete) genealogy of the contemporary by examining some of the discernible trends and tensions of relatively recent. Much of this writing will be Anglophone but you should be prepared for adventures in reading translations. We will also have the opportunity to do some work in UEA's newly founded Archive of Contemporary Literature: what and who is being archived according to which criteria, and what do archivists, academics and critics consider archival about the contemporary?




Too often, academic critical writing seems to bring pre-packaged language to bear on works whose whole essence and aim is to change the ways in which we see and describe our world. And too often such writing fails to acknowledge the ways in which it itself participates in the literary 'creativity' it is also about. How, then, to write criticism? Criticism which responds inventively to the literature which it analyses? Criticism which registers, in its own form, language, method and the ways in which it has been transformed by the work(s) of art it encounters? Criticism which recognises that it cannot rest on received concepts and categories? In this module you'll explore these questions. Over the course of the semester we'll read, ponder and experiment with a broad range of possible ways of practising creative-criticism, including the essay form, auto-commentary, conceptual writing, inventive 'theoretical' writing, and diaristic writing. Your assessed work for the module will be in two parts: a piece of creative-critical writing of your own and a critical reflection on a particular aspect of the theory and practice of creative criticism.




Throughout the medieval and Early-Modern periods Norwich was one of England's most important cities - probably second only to London - and East Anglia one of the country's culturally liveliest and richest areas. You will explore the literature of these periods in its material contexts (the region's prosperity and power may still be seen in its architecture and in the rich holdings of its libraries and museums) and ask whether there was a specifically East Anglian cultural tradition. You will explore East Anglia's rich dramatic traditions, its devotional literature and practices (in orthodox forms and in those that brush against the heterodox), and, insistently, the manner in which its literature participates in its broader social and cultural worlds.




The aim of this mixed creative-critical module is twofold: both to explore together some of the major works of playful or 'ludic' modern literature across various languages, and to develop our appreciation of style and form by practising various forms of writing that are themselves ludic: creative imitation, parody, transposition from one style and form to another, creative translation. In play, we will find, the boundary between the 'creative' and the 'critical' becomes unclear. The module is generally taken by a mix of students from the various critical and creative writing MAs, as well as by students in Literature and Philosophy. On the 'critical' side, the module traces the evolution of leading postmodernist styles and themes, especially ludic ones, back to their origins in Dostoevsky, Joyce, Kafka, Borges, and Nabokov. Using these enormously influential authors as a starting point, we read a range of ludic authors, passing back and forth between languages, nations, and genres. Each week we usually pair two authors. In previous years we have studied, for example, Dostoevsky against Nabokov, Kafka against Borges, Perec against Queneau and Calvino, Carter against Coover, Muldoon against Heaney, Pynchon against Barthelme, and Ashbery against Mallarme. There is also a strong philosophical element of the module, you will be encouraged to explore the philosophical theory of aesthetic play in Kant, Schiller, and Nietzsche, and later in Huizinga and Derrida. On the 'creative' side in previous years we have, for example, read Kafka's short tales against Borges's re-writings of them, tried to write like Kafka or Borges, turned a Kafka story into a Dostoevsky paragraph or a Nabokov poem, explored the various translations of these authors, and played with re-translating them. We have taken a story by Coover and re-written it as a sestina, two kinds of sonnet, and a villanelle. In doing all this, we are asking fundamental questions not only about play but also about style and form, how they shape meaning and make possible certain kinds of writing and thinking. We are also returning to the way in which literature was studied, and creative writing engendered, before the invention of professional literary criticism and creative writing courses in the twentieth century. All students will be encouraged to try their hand at parodying and imitating the texts we are studying, though this is not compulsory. Final assessment can take the form of a 5000 word critical essay or of a combination of a creative piece and a critical essay, to make up 5000 words.




Are you interested in how a book is selected for publication, in how to write for an online readership, or in learning how to edit? Whether you are a writer or a would-be publisher, this module will give you an introduction to the modern publishing industry and equip you with some of the practical skills involved in the successful publication of texts. As well as becoming acquainted with the structure and economics of the contemporary publishing world, the opportunities and challenges posed by digitalisation, you will examine the process whereby books are chosen by literary agents and publishers, review principles of text and jacket design, acquire basic copyediting and proofreading skills, learn tips for publicising books online, write jacket 'blurbs' and press releases. You will also engage with the principles and practice of blog-writing, with copyright law and aspects of publishing finance. In recent years speakers such as Chris Hamilton-Emery from Salt, Philip Gwyn Jones of Scribe, Rosie Sherwood of art-publisher Elbow Room and Eloise Wales of The Literary Platform have addressed the seminars. We have examined correspondence between authors and publishers in the UEA Archive of Contemporary Writing, visited the Jarrold's Print Museum in Norwich and the London International Book Fair. Towards the end of the module you will also have to opportunity to become involved in the editing of the annual MA Creative Writing anthologies. Assessment is by formal essay OR creative-critical assignment such as a literary blog.




Some of the most exciting and innovative fiction of the moment is in fact a hybrid form of fiction, borrowing subject matter and techniques from traditionally non-fiction modes such as memoir, criticism, journalism, reportage and life-writing. These novels depart from the usual concerns with character, realistic dialogue and plot to focus on voice, place, time, employing strategies of literary craft to be formally innovative. You will look at original non-fiction and also at contemporary 'realist' novels which are pushing boundaries and gaining attention in the wider literary culture. You will study the forms, techniques and thematics of both non-fiction and fiction, with an aim to experimenting with and improving your writing in both forms. Some writing in class and between classes will be required.




This module sets out to understand why and how humanism -- the advocacy of the study of the humanities, the Greek and Roman classics -- gave birth to the astonishing outpouring of literature that we call the Renaissance. We will situate English Renaissance literature within the wider context of the humanist literature of France, the Netherlands, and Italy. Questions we consider include: how did the rediscovery of classical texts generate new possibilities for literary writers? How did humanists understand the nature of poetic creation? How did their advocacy of rhetoric create new ways for writers to engage with public life? And what happened when humanists turned philological methods upon the most sacred text of their culture: the bible? Our work will focus on the writings of Thomas More, Desiderius Erasmus, and Michel de Montaigne, but there will be opportunities to read far more widely in the Renaissance literature of the period. Foreign language texts are all read in translation. The might be of interest to anyone who wishes to gain an in-depth understanding of one of the most dazzling periods of European literary history.




This module will allow you to explore innovative and experimental forms of place writing, from the critical and theoretical to the literary and artistic. You'll study critical and theoretical approaches such as (though this may be subject to small changes each year) psychogeography, ecocriticism, critical heritage studies, deep mapping, animal studies, and literary activism. At the same time, you'll consider a number of original works of literature from recent years, thinking carefully about the relationship between theory, method and form. Some of the authors that you'll consider (though this may be subject to small changes each year) are: Richard Mabey, Alice Oswald, W.G. Sebald, R.F. Langley, Italo Calvino, Kei Miller, Sue Clifford and Angela King, Tim Robinson, Paul Farley, Kathleen Jamie, Iain Sinclair, and J.A Baker. During the module, you'll explore some of the following questions: how have different ways of 'framing' place influenced the sense of cultural identity associated with that place? What role might literature play in this? How might recent developments in theory and practice inform your own methods of place writing? How might they encourage you to experiment with new methods? What surprising literary forms might this lead to? And finally, what new ideas might this prompt about publication, exhibition and public engagement? On this module, you'll not only gain a strong foundation in debates concerning literature's relationship to the environment, to heritage, and to ideas of community but you'll engage with these debates following your own line of inquiry, and/or through your own developing practice, in ways that will equip you to take on similar projects after the MA as well.




This module is designed to complement the prose fiction workshop but is open to students on related programmes. You'll be provided with creative and critical knowledge in a single experiential burst, by exploring as they are relevant to writing fiction such topics as time, place, dramatic structure, character and concinnity. We'll also give consideration to professional issues confronting novelists, from writer's block to editing, contracts and dealing with the media. The module presents the writer as both artist and supplier of intellectual property to a market, while examining that and other tensions critically. Reading, writing and analysis happen alongside each other. You'll examine fictional, critical and professional texts, and write exercises illuminating the issue at hand. Assessment is by creative writing coursework with a critical commentary and you'll also be expected to make presentations on topics of your choice.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading


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Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject UK BA (Hons) 2.1 or equivalent
  • Special Entry Requirements Sample of work - see below

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 7.0 (minimum 7.0 in writing and speaking, and 6.0 in reading and listening)
  • PTE (Pearson): 68 (minimum 68 in writing and speaking, and 55 in reading and listening)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact

Special Entry Requirements

A sample of your academic writing (for example an essay from your undergraduate degree) of approximately 2000-3000 words; plus a translation of a short story, poem or literary text with the source text of no more than 5 pages.


The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the Admissions Office directly for further information.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for the academic year 2018/19 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,550
  • International Students: £15,800

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships and Awards:

There are a variety of scholarships and studentships available to postgraduate applicants in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. For further information relevant to the School of Literature and Creative Writing, please click here.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515