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SML8001 : Fundamentals of Legal Translation

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jade Biyu Du
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


This module aims to equip students with an understanding of core concepts and practices in legal translation, and to develop their knowledge, skills and techniques in tackling practical problems in undertaking translation for legal purposes. By familiarising students with perspectives of comparative law and aspects of translating legal texts, including terminology, style and text typology as well as with necessary tools, resources and methods, the module seeks to offer students an insight into what is involved in legal translation, preparing them for work or further study in the area. Adopting a research-informed, interdisciplinary approach, this module is largely focused on theoretical issues in legal translation. It helps students to link theoretical framework in legal translation to practical problems and solutions to them. It also encourages them to reflect critically upon their translation practices and to engage in discussions about issues of law and culture, legal systems, and functional equivalence.

Outline Of Syllabus

•       Key issues in legal translation
•       Comparative legal system and theories of comparative studies
•       Linguistic features of legal texts
•       Translation of legal terminology
•       Typology of legal texts
•       Legal speech acts
•       Legal translation: approaches and strategies
•       Legal translation and technology
•       The profession(s) of legal translators

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture91:009:007 hours of Present in Person and 2 hours of synchronous online
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion125:0025:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00Present in Person
Guided Independent StudySkills practice116:0016:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities120:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:301:30Present in person
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Synchronous online
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study123:0023:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:301:30Present in person
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lecture material associated with this module provide students with an insight into theoretical aspects and key principles of legal translation. Workshops involve students in discussions about core readings that are assigned in advance. They also require students to apply theories presented in lecture material to practical analysis of a range of legal texts. This teaching method will be used to strengthen close reading skills involved in understanding legal genres and will enhance students’ understanding of legal writings and raise their awareness of more complex linguistic features commonly used in legal discourse. Directed research and reading will consolidate students’ understanding of the key theories introduced in the lecture material and enhance their close reading skills practiced in the workshops. There will be online elements in the contact hours. The blended learning mode of teaching showed to be very effective as it allowed students time to reflect in their own time.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M100Submission of an essay 1800-2000 words at the end of the module
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MAnnotated literature review of 800-1000 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

There are two possible formats of summative assessment: one is a commentary and the other an essay.

The summative assessment in the form of a critical commentary is designed to assess students’ reflection ability of their own translation practice that involves applying theories to real-life assignments. Students are asked to choose a section of a legal text, translate it into another language and reflect on the translation. The translation product will not be assessed, but students need to critically reflect, evaluate and critique their own translation in relation to the challenges encountered and solutions produced. This assessment will assess students’ ability in completing real-life assignments and their reflective learning ability. Alternatively, students are asked to work on one of the essay questions related to the themes covered in the module. They are expected to explore further based on the relevant literature. This assessment is to assess their critical, evaluative, analytical and research skills.

The formative assessment in the form of annotated bibliography is focused on assessing students’ knowledge of the area that has been introduced in the module and their evaluative skills. Students are asked to summarise and comment on the literature related to the themes covered in the module. They are expected to explore literature in both comparative law and translation studies.

Reading Lists