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Introduction to Translation Studies


Admission requirements



‘Beautiful translations are like beautiful women, that is to say, they are not always the most faithful ones.’ Whatever one might think about this tongue in cheek comparison between beautiful women and beautiful translations by the British literary critic and cultural philosopher George Steiner, this quotation may serve as an illustration of the debate on free versus literal translations that has dominated the world of translation for centuries. Translation theorists, critics and, of course, translators themselves have been occupied with the problem of whether a translator should translate literally or freely. But what do we actually understand by literal and free translations? This is just one of the many fascinating questions that we will be discussing throughout the course. The course covers a wide range of issues and debates in translation studies and aims to provide students with an overview of the history of translation studies, different translation theories and various approaches to translating. Some translators claim that they do not need to know anything about translation studies or theories, just as you do not need to know anything about an engine to be able to drive a car. On the other hand, one might argue that if translators are more aware of the different choices they have when making a translation – whether it be a novel, a poem or a legal document – they will be able to produce a better translation. That is why this course does not only focus on translation theory as such; in tutorials, we will also apply various methods and approaches to different texts.

Course objectives

  • Course objective 1: knowledge of the most important translation theories and areas of applied translation studies

  • Course objective 2: ability to critically reflect on different translation theories

  • Course objective 3: ability to apply the methods and strategies discussed in some of these theories


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

This course has compulsory attendance, students who miss more than three seminars are not allowed to take the exam.

Course Load

The course load of this course is 140 hours.

  • 28 hours: attending seminars;

  • 56 hours: studying the compulsory literature;

  • 56 hours: preparation for the exam and assignments (including reading / research).

Assessment method

  • written examination including essay questions (50%)

  • written assignments (50%)


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Reader An Introduction to Translation Studies. Blackboard

  • Munday, J. (2012). Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications. London/New York: Routledge.


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the coordinator of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte via:
Registration Contractonderwijs via:

Contact English Language and Culture departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; Coordinator of studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.