PhD in Translation

Swansea University offers talented linguists with a good MA or equivalent background the opportunity to start a PhD in Translation. A PhD is a research degree, which means that there are no (compulsory) taught classes and exams. The result of the research is a thesis of up to 100,000 words. You will have a supervisor and a co-supervisor who are specialists in (different aspects of) your topic and whom you will meet regularly. A full-time PhD takes three years and a part-time PhD six years.  

Each topic area has a coordinator who is responsible for finding an appropriate supervisor and co-supervisor. The coordinator of the topic you want to work with is the best person to start talking to when you consider doing a PhD.

Before starting a PhD

Information to assist before applying for a PhD.

Studying for a PhD in Translation

Kevin Flanagan

My working title is 'Lift: implementing effective sub-sentential recall in Translation Memory', working with supervisors Professor Andrew Rothwell and Professor Peter Mosses. During sixteen years of full-time software development, I spent much time with French clients, which ultimately led me to begin working as a freelance technical translator. All available translation memory systems left me convinced they could be improved, specifically by adding reliable sub-sentential recall. I drew on my software development experience to create a prototype sub-sentential TM system, whose performance was effective enough to attract Research Council funding for me to continue the research as this PhD, with a project name of 'Lift'. A  poster presentation about Lift given at the European Commission's Translating Europe conference on 25th October 2013 can be downloaded here.

Claire Hopkin

My working title is 'Characterising the polysemy of French and English deverbal nominalisation suffixes', working with supervisors Dr Pius ten Hacken and Dr Nathalie Morello.  I started in January 2009.  My work is a study of the semantics of French and English derivational morphology using the frameworks proposed by Jackendoff (1983, 1990, 2002, 2007) and Pustejovsky (1995).  I have presented ‘Exploring Cardiff and Sydney approaches to Agency in feminist discourse’, 21st European Systemic Functional Linguistics Conference and Workshop, Cardiff University, 8-10 July 2009.  I graduated from Swansea in French and Language Studies in 2007. I then completed an MA in Cardiff University in Language and Communication Research in September 2008.

Gareth Watkins

My working title is 'How can language technology and the use of language technology be improved in the context of Welsh language translation', working with supervisors Professor Andrew Rothwell and Dr Tudor Hallam.  I propose to investigate current language technology and its use in Wales and compare language technology’s use in the Welsh context with its use in the wider context, specifically in the European Commission Directorate-General for Translation. I will also compare Wales’s position with that of Quebec, a country which also produces all its official documentation bilingually.  I am then going to create a metric for testing and evaluating the technology. My aim is to evaluate current technology and its use in the Welsh context.  I delivered the Translation and Technology module to 2nd year undergraduates on the BSc Translation course at Aston University during 2008/09.  I graduated with a Welsh degree from Swansea University in 1999. I returned in 2007 to follow an MA in Translation with Language Technology which I completed in October 2008. I am also SDL Trados Certified (level 3). You can find more detail about me on my personal website.

Alaa Olwi

I am a second year PhD student at Swansea University and before conducting my doctoral research, I worked as a lecturer at the college of languages and translation at Princess Nora University, Saudi Arabia. Prior to that, I lectured at Prince Sultan University, King Faisal University and the Girls College in Dammam. I taught courses in linguistics and English language at all undergraduate levels.  I have a Master’s and a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from San Jose State University in California and a diploma in teaching English to speakers of other languages from San Jose State University.

My thesis is entitled ‘Subtitling the Taboo: is it a Taboo?’ and the focus is on subtitling taboo expressions and terms from English into Arabic.  My supervisors are Dr. Katharina Hall and Dr. Patricia Rodríguez-Martínez. 

Some of the questions I plans to tackle include:

  1. What are the sensitive or problematic areas that translators face when subtitling?
  2. Which approaches do translators and TV channels favour (Domestication or Foreignization)? When and why?
  3. What is the impact of the different approaches on viewers?
  4. Do demographics play a role in accepting or not accepting the translation or the source culture? Are age, education, knowledge of English, etc. important factors in influencing the viewers’ acceptance?

PhD in Translation Graduates

Ewelina kwiatek

Thesis: Contrastive analysis of Polish and English land surveying terminology

Supervisors: Dr Pius ten Hacken and Dr Alison Williams

Dates: January 2008 to February 2012 (full time)

In my PhD, the leading research question is what factors are involved in the differences observed in the two terminological systems.

Publications & Presenations

Kwiatek, E. & ten Hacken, P. (2011): 'Efficiency of MultiTerm for extraction of terms from English and Polish specialized corpora'.  In Gozdz-Roszkowski, S. (ed.) Explorations across Languages and Corpora. Lódz Studies in Language. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. pp. 145-162.

Borkowski A., Ziemba E. (2006): ‘Surface breaklines interpolation on the basis of terrestrial laser scanning data’.Reports on Geodesy, 77(2):95-102.

Kwiatek, Ewelina & ten Hacken, Pius, ‘Efficiency of MultiTerm for extraction of terms from English and Polish specialized corpora’, Practical Applications in Language and Computers (PALC) Conference, Lódz, Poland, 6-8 April 2009

‘Developing a termbase for English and Polish land surveying terminology’,  27 January 2009, Swansea University, Dept. of Modern Languages.

During my PhD I taught Polish Advanced Translation and Interpreting and I supervised Extended Translations of Polish students in the MA Translation with Language Technology. Prior to taking my doctorate I completed MSc studies in Land Surveying and Real Estate Management from Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences in Poland in 2005. After that I started my professional career as a junior land surveyor. I was employed in the GIS unit of the Polish National Forestry Department in Brzeg. However, I decided to pursue further studies. In 2006 I moved to Britain and in 2007 I completed  the MA in Translation with Language Technology, with Polish and English as my languages.

Sarah Kennedy

Thesis title: The French prose poem and the poetic in English translation: a comparative study
Supervisors:  Professor Andrew Rothwell and Dr Joanne Langley
Start date: October 2006 (full time)
End date: 15 November 2010

I worked with the following research questions: ‘What is the poetic?’ ‘Can it be translated?’ and ‘What happens to it in translation?’  I studied selected English translations of Baudelaire’s Petits Poèmes en Prose, Rimbaud’s Illuminations, Jacob's Le Cornet à Dés and Reverdy’s Poèmes en prose as a critical lens or method of access to form an analysis of some aspects of the poetic.

I used translation theory and linguistic and critical theory as tools to reevaluate the question of the poetic. These tools combine to allow a detailed analysis of some of the aspects of the poetic within the framework of dichotomy and paradox. They also allow an analysis of the translators’ different strategies and the way they privilege different aspects of the poetic to varying effects.  My research project explored aspects of what some have termed the ‘magic’ or pleasure of poetry.

I taught the Level 2 BA Translation Workshop (French to English) and worked as a demonstrator on the Level 2 BA Language Technology module) and the MA Language Technology module (MA in Translation with Language Technology). I also gave lectures on Rimbaud and Baudelaire to Level 2 students as part of their Poetry and Modernity module.

After completing my BA in Modern and Medieval Languages (French and Italian) at Christ’s College, Cambridge, I came to Swansea in 2004 to do my MA in Translation with Language Technology. I enjoyed being in the friendly university and town of Swansea so much that I decided to stay on and study literary translation.

María Fernández Parra

Thesis: Formulaic Expressions in Computer-Assisted Translation.  A Specialized Translation Approach

Supervisors: Dr Pius ten Hacken and Dr Lloyd Davies

Dates: October 2005 to March 2012 (part time)


In my PhD, the leading research question is to what extent computer-assisted translation tools (CAT-tools) can assist a professional translator in identifying and translating formulaic expressions in specialized texts.


(2010), with Pius ten Hacken, ‘Identifying Fixed Expressions: A Comparison of SDL MultiTerm Extract and Déjà Vu’s Lexicon”, Proceedings of Translating and the Computer 32, ASLIB, 18-19 November 2010, London.

(2010), ‘The Workflow of Computer-Assisted Translation Tools in Specialised Translation’. In Carmen Heine and Jan Engberg (eds.) Reconceptualizing LSP. Online proceedings of the XVII European LSP Symposium 2009, Aarhus, Denmark.

(2009), ‘A Typology for the translation of formulaic expressions’, in Proceedings of the 4th Athens Postgraduate Conference, 1-3 June 2007, Athens: University of Athens, Faculty of Philology, pp. 141-148.

(2008), ‘Selecting Criteria to Define Formulaic Language’, in Gard Jenset et al (eds.) Linguistics in the Making, Oslo, Novus Press, pp. 77-97.

Fernández Parra, María & ten Hacken, Pius (2008), ‘Multi-Word Units in MultiTerm Extract’, Proceedings of the Thirtieth International Conference on Translating and the Computer, ASLIB, 27-28 November 2008, London.

(2008), ‘Formulaic Expressions in Language Technology’, in Antonis Botinis (ed.) Proceedings of the ISCA Tutorial and Research Workshop on Experimental Linguistics, 25-27 August 2008, Athens, Greece, pp. 93-96.

(2008), ‘Translating Formulaic Expressions in Instruction Manuals: A Corpus Study’, Newcastle Working Papers in Linguistics, Newcastle University, vol.14, pp. 51-60.

ten Hacken, Pius & Fernández Parra, María (2008): ‘Terminology and Formulaic Language in Computer-Assisted Translation’, SKASE Journal of Translation and Interpretation 3:1-16.

(2007), 'Towards a definition and classification of formulaic language for its translation in specialized texts', in Nenonen, Marja & Niemi, Sinikka (eds.), Collocations and Idioms 1: Papers from the First Nordic Conference on Syntactic Freezes, Joensuu, May 19-20, 2006, Joensuu: University of Joensuu.


‘Beyond Terms: Multi-Word Units in MultiTerm Extract’, Translation and Multilingualism (TRAM) research paper, Swansea University, 28 October 2008.

‘Formulaic Expressions in Language Technology’ (poster), International Speech Communication Association (ISCA) Tutorial and Research Workshop on Experimental Linguistics, Athens, Greece, 25-27 August 2008.

‘Formulaic Language in Computer-Assisted Translation: The Example of Trados’, Formulaic Language Research Network’s (FLaRN) Third International Postgraduate Conference, Nottingham University, 19-20 June 2008.

'Against All Odds: Computers Applied to Literary Translation', Cultural and Literary Translation: New Directions, Romance Studies Colloquium, 17-19 September 2007, Gregynog Hall, Newtown, Wales.

(with Pius ten Hacken), 'Terminology and Formulaic Language in Computer-Assisted Translation', ESP Terminology and Translation Workshop, P. J. Safárik University, Kosice, Slovakia, 13-14 September 2007.

'Translating formulaic expressions in instruction manuals: a corpus study', Second Newcastle Postgraduate Conference in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, Newcastle University, 25 June 2007.

'Towards a definition and classification of formulaic language in computer-assisted translation', 4th Athens Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics, 1-3 June 2007, and Second Scandinavian PhD conference in Linguistics and Philology, Bergen, 4-6 June 2007.

'Formulaic language and computer-assisted translation tools', 7 November 2006, Swansea University, Centre for Translation Research and Multilingualism, Research in Progress series and 15 February 2007, Swansea University, Hispanic Department.

'The translation of formulaic language with computer-assisted translation tools', First Nordic Conference on Syntactic Freezes, 19-20 May 2006, University of Joensuu, Finland.


I am involved as a demonstrator in the Language Technology modules of the MA Translation with Language Technology and in some undergraduate modules about machine translation and computer-assisted translation.


I completed the Licenciatura en Traducción e Interpretación at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) in 1994. After that I moved to Britain. I completed the MA Translation with Language Technology (part-time) in 2004, with Spanish and French as my languages. I also work as a freelance translator and interpreter. In December 2009 I was the official Catalan interpreter at the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

Brett Jocelyn Epstein


My Ph.D. research is focused on the translation of children’s literature. I am studying English books translated primarily to Swedish and the books I have chosen at this point include Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Lemony Snicket’s series of books, Roald Dahl’s work, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finnby Mark Twain. My particular interests are dialects, names, humour, expressive language, and various cultural, political, and religious issues.

My main methodology is in-depth textual analysis. In addition, I have interviewed the Swedish translators of Dahl’s and Snicket’s books, and Dahl’s Welsh translator, and I hope both to meet them again to continue our discussions and also to interview other translators of the works I have chosen. Their insight into what translatorial decisions they have made and why adds an extra beneficial layer to the textual analysis.

For my research I received a number of grants that enabled to travel to conferences and courses. I have also received a New Writer's bursary of the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency Academi and a grant from the Anglo-Swedish Literary Foundation to translate a novel from Swedish.

I was the organizer of the Nordic Translation Conference, 6-8 March 2008, at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies of the University of London. The conference is the first of its kind to focus on the Nordic languages and their translation and will feature academics, translators, publishers, writers, students, and others interested in the topic. For this conference I obtained support from the Nordic Culture FundUCL Department of Scandinavian Studies, and Swansea University.


Sole editor of Northern Lights: Translation in the Nordic Countries, selected papers from the Nordic Translation Conference, published by Peter Lang, spring 2009

“In Name Only? Translating Names in Children’s Literature” in Northern Lights: Translation in the Nordic Countries, published by Peter Lang, spring 2009

“Life is Just an Allusion” forthcoming in From Colonialism to the Contemporary: Intertextual Transformations in World Children’s and Youth Literature, published by Cambridge University Press, spring 2009

“The Translation of Dialects in Children’s Literature: Two Books, Three Translations, and Five Strategies” forthcoming in Translating Dialects and Languages of Minorities: Challenges and Solutions, spring 2009



“Not a Piece of (Sandwich) Cake,” Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study conference, Madison, Wisconsin, April-May 2009

“The Conservative Era,” Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study conference, Madison, Wisconsin, April-May 2009

“Protecting Children: Changing Trends in Translating Children’s Literature,” Translation Right or Wrong, Dublin, March 2009

“Equality Through Literature: How Non-Heterosexualities are Portrayed in Children’s Literature,” LGBT Lives: Sexual/Gender Dissidence over the Life Course, Edinburgh, October 2008

Invited guest lecture on “Child’s Play: Translating Figurative Language in Children’s Literature,” Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden, September 2008

“Translating Children’s Literature: Issues of Power,” Power: Forms, Dynamics, Consequences Conference, Tampere, Finland, September 2008

“Life is Just an Allusion: Translating Allusions in Children’s Literature,” International Board on Books for Children and Young Adults Congress, Copenhagen, Denmark, September 2008 (revised version of paper given August 2008)

“It’s Just an Allusion: Allusions in Children’s Literature,” International Federation of Translators Conference, Shanghai, China, August 2008

“Writing and Translating Children’s Literature: Issues of Power,” Writers’ and Literary Translators’ International Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, July 2008

“Translating Neologisms in Children’s Literature,” research seminar at Swansea University, May 2008

‘In Name Only?: Translating Names in Children's Literature’, Nordic Translation Conference, University of London, 6-8 March 2008.

‘Power in Translation: Postcolonial Theories and Children’s Literature’, Translation: Theory and Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, 23-24 February 2008.

‘Translation in MFA Programs’, moderator of a panel, Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference, New York City, January 2008.

‘The Translation of Dialects in Children’s Literature: Issues of Power’, 18th Congress of International Research Society for Children’s Literature, Kyoto, 25-29 August 2007.

‘The Translation of Wordplay’, The British Comparative Literature Association XI International Conference, London, England, 2-5 July 2007.

‘Translating Dialects in Children's Literature’, Fourth International Conference on The Child and the Book, Istanbul, 30 March - 1 April 2007.



I completed the BA in literature and creative writing from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, USA in 2000 and the MFA in fiction from Queens University in North Carolina, USA in 2004. I taught English in Sweden for many years and continue to teach English online. I have also been a freelance writer for years and have published dozens of articles on topics including translation, restaurant reviews, writing, book reviews, teaching, Scandinavia, and so on. I am also the author of a textbook, Ready, Set, Teach! Ready-Made, Creative Lessons for the English Classroom, which was published in Scandinavia in 2005. I  work as a Swedish to English translator, a copy editor, a writer, and an English teacher.

I have my own personal website and maintain a blog on translation.