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Each student crafts a portfolio of 8-10 literary texts of their choice, together with short commentaries on the strategies used and how effective these were in reaching their intended goal.

A portfolio consists of:

  • 8-10 different texts of different genres or text types;
  • at least one source text published before 1850;
  • a standard brief accompanying each translation, up to 600 words


Students may translate from and into any literary genre (broadly conceived). Such genres and text types include but are not limited to: poetry, narrative, essay, (auto) biography, theatre, film (subtitles or dubbing scripts), journalism, interviews, speeches. Students may also translate using the full range of modalities of literary translation, including: literal translation, free translation, adaptation, imitation. Students may also translate a text into a genre or text type that differs from that of their source text.

Students may include more than one translation of a single source text. In such a case, students may choose between creating translations that differ significantly in their strategies, in which case, the translations will be counted as separate texts for the purposes of marking. Alternatively, they may choose to create two versions of the same translation using the same strategy, in which case the translations will be counted as a single text for the purposes of marking.

Students may include translations produced for other modules as part of their portfolios only where those translations have not been submitted for assessment.

Language pairs

Students may translate in either direction within their language pairs and are encouraged to do so. Students may also choose to translate between more than one language pair. Each language pair represented in their portfolio requires at least one supervisor.


Students translating from languages that use alphabetic writing systems should produce portfolios no longer than 10,000 words of source text, accompanied by the students’ own translations.

Those translating from languages using character-based systems such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean should produce portfolios of up to 28,000 characters of source text, accompanied by the students’ own translations.

Students working in multiple directions or using multiple language pairs are advised to keep the average length of their source texts to between 1000-1250 words in the case of alphabetic source languages, and 2800-3500 characters in the case of character-based source languages.


It is students’ responsibility to identify the supervisors best suited to their work. They should begin this process at the beginning of the course, and should have decided on their supervisors before reading week in Michaelmas Term. Students approach their potential supervisor and discuss what they would like to achieve in the portfolio. When a supervisor has agreed to supervise a student, they both fill out a portfolio supervision form, deciding on a programme of supervision meetings.

Supervision meetings focus around specific pieces of work. It is important for students to identify their translation strategy with a description. Therefore, all translations submitted prior to a supervision meeting should be accompanied by a draft brief, ideally, using the standard brief form. Students should submit the work they would like to discuss in the supervisions to the supervisors at least seven days before the supervision is due to take place.

It is the student’s responsibility to:

  • decide on the texts to be included in the portfolio;
  • present their work in the House Style;
  • ensure that they acknowledge any assistance or influence they may have drawn on, whether from an individual or a published source. Students should familiarise themselves with College regulations on plagiarism. They should complete the ‘Ready, Steady, Write’ online tutorial on plagiarism. Completing the tutorial is compulsory for all students. If students are found guilty of plagiarism, they risk being awarded a mark of zero and/or not being awarded their degree;
  • submit the final version of the portfolio by the published deadline (the last working day of Hilary Term). The supervisor and student together agree a timetable for meetings, and processes for the submission and return of work. Some feedback may be provided in electronic form. The maximum number of hours a student may legitimately expect to spend in face-to-face meetings with their supervisor is six during the year. The standard Portfolio Supervision Form should be returned to the school office by 1st December.
  • Students are required to obtain at least a pass mark (40%) on the portfolio in order to pass the M.Phil. See Calendar for further details.
  • When submitting, two copies of the portfolio must be handed in to the School Office (Room 5042). We recommend that students keep a soft copy of the portfolio for their records.


It is the supervisor’s role to:

  • have an overview of the student’s work and, where necessary, seek specialist advice;
  • respond to the student’s questions regarding the scope of the portfolio;
  • encourage students to think critically about possible translation strategies and choices in the portfolio;
  • provide feedback (this includes lexical, syntactic, stylistic etc. feedback on the sources and target contexts);
  • provide feedback in person and/or in text form on the days agreed in consultation with the student. The Translator in Residence may also be available to provide supervision in the second term. 


It is the marker’s role to:

  • read through the material;
  • asses the work on the basis of the criteria provided;
  • provide comprehensive feedback for the external examiner, which indicates how the final mark has been reached, including in-script annotations;
  • return work within 30 working days (before the end of Statutory Term).