MA/PGDip Conference Interpreting / Course details

Year of entry: 2019

Course description

Eoin Ward

We benefited from EU virtual classes and a study visit to Brussels, as well as dummy boothing opportunities at the UN.

Through this contact with the main employers of conference interpreters, I was able to receive feedback from working interpreters and gained a better insight into the level required to pass an accreditation test.

Eoin Ward / MA Conference Interpreting graduate

Our MA/PGDip Conference Interpreting course aims to equip you with the knowledge and advanced interpreting skills required for a career in conference interpreting.

All of our interpreting trainers are practising conference interpreters in language combinations that reflect market demands. Most trainers are also AIIC members.

We offer simultaneous and consecutive interpreting training in five languages - French, German, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. These are key languages in international organisations such as the UN and EU and are also in demand on the freelance market.

Class sizes are kept small to ensure that students can receive individualised feedback. This enables you to progress at your own pace.

You will develop your interpreting skills under the guidance of a core team of interpreter trainers - all of whom have worked for international organisations such as the EU or UN, either as staff or on a freelance basis.

In addition, you can attend professional skills masterclasses in which visiting conference interpreters and potential employers offer insights into the profession.

One unit aims to increase your knowledge of topics interpreters are likely to encounter, eg the workings of major international organisations (eg the EU and the UN), diplomacy, international law, economics and foreign policy.

We have two interpreting suites equipped with 12 booths and Brähler consoles used widely in the profession.

Who is this course for?

As a prospective student, you will offer one of two profiles, reflecting the two distinct profiles of practising conference interpreters:

  • Profile 1: You have English as your native language (A language) and two passive foreign languages (C languages). You will be trained in consecutive and simultaneous interpreting out of both C languages into your A language.
  • Profile 2: You have Russian, Chinese, French, German or Spanish as your native language (A language) and English as an active foreign language (B language), or English as your A language and one of the five languages mentioned as your B. You will be trained in both types of interpreting in both directions (ie B-A and A-B)

Study options

You can study the course over one year (full-time) or two years (part-time). Part-time study is strongly supported and is actively facilitated in the timetabling of teaching hours for the MA, wherever possible.

The Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Conference Interpreting is a slightly shorter course available for students who do not wish to complete a professional portfolio or research dissertation.

PGDip students can work on a new or existing language by enrolling on a University language course.

For recent updates on our activities, please visit our Facebook page or find us on Weibo.


We aim to:

  • equip you with the knowledge and advanced interpreting skills for a career in conference interpreting;
  • provide specialist training in consecutive and simultaneous interpreting;
  • provide a gradual transition into the professional world through practical, real-life interpreting tasks;
  • provide guidance on professional conduct and ethics;
  • enable you to reflect critically on your own and others' interpreting practice;
  • equip you for further study and research.

Special features

SCIC recognition

We are one of the few UK courses to be recognised by SCIC (the European Commission Interpreting Service).

Those with suitable language combinations can benefit from EU initiatives including SCIC bursaries and the opportunity to travel to Brussels to learn about interpreting for the EU institutions and to practise dummy booth (simultaneous interpreting in the booth in real meetings but without the mic on) at the European Commission.

Experienced SCIC interpreters visit Manchester to take part in classes and simulated conferences and deliver careers talks. You can also participate in virtual classes with SCIC and/or the European Parliament.

UN links

Students with relevant language combinations and strong performances in interpreting units have interpreted for the Geneva International Model United Nations, a non-governmental organisation in special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, as well as practice dummy booth at the International Maritime Organization in London and volunteer at a UN Crime Congress in Qatar.

Additional training

We offer a four-week advanced simultaneous training course to MA students following their final exams, where you can bring the standard of your interpreting up to the level required of professional conference interpreters.

After this, MA students will produce a written piece outlining their preparation for a hypothetical interpreting assignment. You will be encouraged to pick a meeting for which webcasts and documentation are available online, prepare, and then test the effectiveness of your preparation by interpreting from the webcast.

For an additional fee, PGDip students and graduates from other universities can attend this extra training if the relevant language groups are running.

Teaching and learning

This course is designed to train students with an aptitude for conference interpreting in an intensive and highly individualised manner.

Contact hours with our trainers will involve a mixture of seminars with students studying all six languages on the degree (English, Chinese, French, German, Russian and Spanish) and language-specific tutorials focusing on your particular language combination.

In the Professional Development for Conference Interpreters unit, you will also have the opportunity to work as part of a team of interpreters at a number of simulated multilingual conferences.

Class sizes are small, which allows for intensive contact with teaching staff.

You will be taught in separate classes for language tutorials covering each direction in which you interpret, for example, an interpreter working with French><English attends interpreting classes both into English and into French.

In addition to interpreting classes, you will also take a unit that helps you to expand your general knowledge in areas relevant to conference interpreting, such as international law and economics. In Semester 2, you will take a professional development unit to prepare for working life.

In addition to class contact hours, e-learning provision provides you with the support and feedback required between classes, as well as giving you the ability to track your progress.

Guided self-study sessions in small groups are an essential part of the degree. These sessions also nurture peer assessment and feedback skills.

Teaching staff

You will learn from experts in interpreting and translation throughout the course. See the People page on the Translation and Intercultural Studies website to find out more about our staff.

Coursework and assessment

This course is designed as a specialist postgraduate qualification in Conference Interpreting where course units in consecutive and simultaneous interpreting complement one another.

Assessment on the MA takes two forms:

  • end of unit interpreting exams to assess progress in interpreting skills;
  • assessed coursework for other units such as professional development.

For students taking the MA, there are two options for the dissertation:

  • write a research dissertation, or
  • attend an additional four weeks of training in advanced simultaneous interpreting. This takes place during the summer after the Semester 2 exams. Students then complete a professional portfolio setting out how they would prepare for a hypothetical assignment.

Course unit details

You will undertake units totalling 180 credits. Core units combine to make 120 credits, with the remaining 60 credits allocated to a research dissertation or professional portfolio.

  • Consecutive Interpreting
  • Simultaneous Interpreting- Early Skills Development to Advanced Simultaneous

These very practical units combine general seminars attended by all MA students with weekly language-pair specific tutorials.

All trainers teach only language directions they are qualified to work with themselves.

  • Topics in International Diplomacy

This unit will introduce you to key topics in international diplomacy. The aim is to equip you with a broad understanding of current international affairs, including international organisations, diplomacy, the fundamentals of international law and economics.

As part of this unit, students have researched topics ranging from the South China Sea conflict to straddling fish stocks!

  • Professional Development

This unit will give you an opportunity to prepare for employment through a series of simulated conferences and seminars which explore the contexts in which interpreters are employed.

The unit includes advice on handling assignments, including professional marketing, pre-assignment preparation and employer expectations.

  • Research Methods (Translation and Interpreting Studies) I
  • Research Methods and Approaches for Interpreting Studies

These units provide an introduction to the study of conference interpreting and familiarise you with the role of the interpreter in history, and the key 'turns' of research in conference interpreting from the 1950s to the present day.

They also cover research methods in translation and interpreting studies.

  • Professional Portfolio or Dissertation

You will have the option of completing a traditional research dissertation or a professional portfolio. The professional portfolio aims to help you prepare for your first interpreting assignments.

Students taking this option will attend four weeks of additional teaching, which will focus on advanced simultaneous and simultaneous with texts, as well as meeting preparation.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Research Methods (Translation and Interpreting Studies) I ELAN60211 15 Mandatory
Consecutive Interpreting ELAN60530 30 Mandatory
Simultaneous Interpreting ELAN60760 30 Mandatory
Professional Development for Conference Interpreters ELAN61132 15 Mandatory
Topics in International Diplomacy ELAN71011 15 Mandatory
Research Methods and Approaches for Interpreting Studies ELAN71022 15 Mandatory

What our students say

Sam Dyson

The trainers really make the course. They are all highly qualified interpreters (with EU/ UN accreditation).

Perhaps more importantly, they are fantastic teachers who clearly delight in handing down their skills and knowledge to the next generation of interpreters.

Sam Dyson / MA Conference Interpreting graduate

See what our graduates have to say about this course on the student spotlights page.


Our fully-equipped, state-of-the-art interpreting suite, used for conference interpreting courses and practice sessions, includes a main conference room with built-in, simultaneous interpreting booths with interpreting consoles and integrated teaching software. This is the same equipment used at international organisations such as the European Parliament.

Our students also have exclusive access to the EU multi-lingual speech repository, which provides a large amount of useful interpreting training materials.

We also offer a Melissi digital self-study lab, which provides excellent resources for group study and individual practice. This lab allows students to edit and use a wide range of multimedia materials.

Additionally, the digital recording systems make it easier to record and monitor performance, both for consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting exercises.

The University of Manchester Library boasts one of the best stocked libraries internationally for Translation and Interpreting Studies literature. It also holds subscriptions to leading international journals in the field of interpreting such as Interpreting and The Translator.

In addition, students have access to the most comprehensive abstracting service in Translation and Interpreting Studies, Translation Studies Abstracts (TSA).

Learn more on the Facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: