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Translation Studies


Admission requirements

This course is open only to students registered for the Translation in Theory and Practice specialization.


We do not know for sure how long translators have been around. What we do know is that the earliest available evidence of translation activity is a translation of an Egyptian hieroglyphic text into Hittite cuneiform, which goes back to 1270 BC. It is quite probable that this first translator already asked himself the question: what is translation? (this is a question that we still have not answered today). And translation theory was born. For a long time, translators have wondered about the best approach to translation. Does one religiously stick to the source text – respecting its grammar and style and convention – and try to render this in the target text? Or does the translator have a large degree of freedom? In other words, does one translate literally or freely, and what then do literally and freely mean? Is translation a skill, something that can be learnt? Or is it an art form, requiring more inspiration than perspiration? What can translation theory teach us – if anything? These are some of the questions that we will explore in this course by turning to a number of canonical texts in translation theory and by trying to apply translation theory to translation practice. Special attention will be given to what translation theory can contribute to legal and literary translation, the two areas of translation in which Leiden specializes.

Course objectives

Knowledge and understanding areas of translation theory that may be of use to the translator of literary texts; ability to assess the value of translation theories and to critically apply these theories to translation problems.

Mode of instruction

2-hour weekly seminar

Assessment method

Class participation 10 ; class paper 20 %; written assignments 70



Reading list

  • Naaijkens, T., C. Koster, H. Bloemen and C. Meijer (2010), eds., Denken over Vertalen: Tekstboek Vertaalwetenschap, Nijmegen: Vantilt, 2nd or later edition.

  • Reading materials to be made available on Blackboard.

Students are expected to be in possession of the course book prescribed for the BA Course Introduction to Translation Studies:

  • Munday, Jeremy. Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications. London/New York: Routledge. 3rd or later edition


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs