Student Practicum

Practicum is an essential part of the Master of Translation and Interpreting Studies at UNSW. We offer students opportunities to do real jobs for real clients, so that students can enhance their theoretical knowledge and develop the skills through authentic professional practice.

From internal School projects, interdisciplinary collaborations, university departments, to external clients such as small businesses, event organisers and international organisations, our students have opportunities to provide their developing expertise to real clients with real needs in exchange for valuable hands-on experience. Throughout the process, they practice not only their translation and interpreting skills, but also the effective use of translation technologies, project management, language engineering, B2B and intercultural communication, as well as teamwork.

These practical experiences offer great insight into how different service workflows are applied in the industry, and which combinations of skills and knowledge are needed for a variety of dynamic situations. These experiences bridge the gap between academic studies and industrial practice, and prepare students for the graduate market by adding excellent applied experiences to their professional profiles.

Rececent Examples:

Festival des Métiers – Interpreting for the Hermès Artisans at the Museum of Contemporary Arts

In October 2014, Hermès hosted a 7-day exhibition known as Festival des Métiers at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Sydney.

It was an animated exhibition that gave visitors the opportunity to meet and interact with the Hermès' artisans and experience first-hand their unique expertise. The Hermès craftsmen and craftswomen revealed the complexities of their crafts, and visitors could view Hermès silk scarfs being printed, with leather products, watches and other iconic objects from Hermès being brought to life over the course of the exhibition. Festival des Métiers has previously been exhibited in London, Shanghai, Beijing, New York, Paris, and other major cities all over the world.

Our French stream students helped with the event as French interpreters, interpreting alongside the artisans while they were explaining and demonstrating how various Hermès products were made from scratch. Students went through extensive preparation, learnt highly technical terms and did an excellent job at the exhibition, impressing the artisans with their skills and professionalism.


Student Testimonial – Nadia Barlow

Nadia Barlow.jpg

"Festival des Métiers was a rare and unique opportunity for interpreting students to gain real-life interpreting experience, and was a valuable compliment to the interpreting program at UNSW. It was a great feeling to be able to put into practice the skills and training we learnt in the classroom. It was also a fascinating and exciting event to be part of, and it was a privilege to be able to facilitate the communication and interaction between the artisans and the public. All in all, it was a challenging experience and gave me valuable insight into the role of an interpreter.”


Moot Court – Interdisciplinary Court Interpreting Practice with the Law Faculty

Court interpreting is a demanding and highly specialised interpreting role that requires extensive training and an excellent understanding of how things work in Australian courtrooms. Apart from students going to different courts to observe proceedings, at UNSW, we team up with the Law Faculty every year to conduct an interdisciplinary moot court practice, where Law students act as lawyers, and our students act as interpreters and the non-English speaking background (NESB) defendants and witnesses to perform in a mock trial. In some sessions, we have real judges preside over the mock trial and share their unique experience.

This interdisciplinary collaboration started in 2012 with the most recent successful run in 2014. Students from both disciplines gained hands-on experience in a realistic moot court that is equipped with all of the facilities that are used in real courtrooms. Through interactions with Law students, and working through realistic legal proceedings, students gained a valuable insight into the discourse of court interpreting.

Moot Court

Yael and Chirata acting as interpreter and witness; Law students acting as barrister.

Student Testimonial - Yael Balandrano

“I encourage all students in the Masters of Interpreting and Translation to take part in the moot court exercise. It is a great opportunity to practice legal interpreting in at atmosphere that is less controlled the classroom and that resembles more a court situation.

The participation of both students and professionals from the legal field add a challenging level of complexity that can only be experienced by taking part in this workshop. The discussions following each case are quite rewarding since all actors (lecturers, judge, officer, lawyers, interpreters) exchange their points of view and share their experiences, which provides for a better understanding of how these procedures take place in preparation for a real life scenario.

Taking part in the moot court is a perfect way to apply the learning of legal interpreting acquired in the lectures and the tutorials, and to put theory in practice. Further, video recordings provide a great tool to assess the interpreter’s performance to further develop skills.

Student Testimonial - Chirata Deneve Thomsen


“Interpreting at the Moot Court was an outstanding learning experience in the legal interpreting course and MAITS Program. It allowed me to apply interpreting skills and knowledge acquired during the course, in a real-life scenario where participants where Law students and practitioners of the profession. The preparation was comprehensive and also included a briefing of the case provided by the Law students similar to an authentic legal case. Interpreting at the Moot Court provided me with an accurate insight into managing communication and shifting from dialogue interpreting to “chuchotage” and highlighted the significance of articulate public speaking skills in this setting. Interpreting at the Moot Court is a learning experience that enhances the interpreting skills acquired in the MAITS Program.”


Medical Interpreting Workshop – Interdisciplinary Medical Interpreting Practice with the Faculty of Medicine

Effective communication with non-English speaking patients through interpreters is an important skill that doctors in Australia should acquire. The effectiveness of doctor-patient communication will determine the accuracy of diagnosis, influence patients’ behaviours and emotions, and may even be a matter of life and death in critical situations. In 2014, we initiated a collaborative project with the Medicine Faculty, and started to offer medical interpreting workshops to medical students, raising their awareness of the appropriate ways to work with interpreters in sensitive cross-cultural communication situations. Our interpreting students participated in the role-play with medical students to help demonstrate different kinds of interpreting practice, from non-professional to professional. A total of four workshops were conducted across the whole year, and the feedback from the medical students was very positive. As a result, we are running four workshops again in 2015, and will develop them into more interactive sessions using flipped classroom approach, and engaging more interpreting students.

Click the below image to view a sample of recorded role-play from one of the workshops (English subtitles were produced by our students): which demonstrates an example of what happens when a family member is used to interpret in a sensitive doctor-patient consultation instead of a professional interpreter.

Medical Interpreting.jpg

Translating for Real Clients

In the Program, students have opportunities to do real translation jobs for real clients using cutting edge translation technologies. The content for translation includes news articles, posters, brochures, booklets, subtitles, websites, and technical documents such as conference presentations and industry reports. With the help of the latest translation and project management tools, including subtitling and machine translation, students practice the most up-to-date industry workflows in computer-assisted translation, translation project management, language engineering, post-editing and audio-visual translation. Some recent translation jobs include:

UNSW China Student Guide 2015 Translation

China Student Guide 2015.jpg

Subtitling for UNSW YouTube videos

Check out a series of videos subtitled in Chinese Click Here

Translating news for UNSW international office

Recent Examples:

World subject rankings ‘good for business’ (Chinese translation)

Students learn from top nuclear scientists(Chinese translation)

Translation for Akvopedia 

An international not-for-profit water sanitation resource project. Samples of students’ translations:

Business Development - Micro-financing (Chinese)

Multiple Use Services (MUS) (Spanish)

Surface water – General (French)

Student Testimonial –Yifang Zhang

“The UNSW translation and interpreting practicum was one of the most valuable experiences of my postgraduate study. It offered me a great opportunity to translate news and promotional materials such as UNSW China Guide, pamphlet, and video subtitles for UNSW International Office, which not only enabled me to link my expertise to practice, but also helped me to improve my transferable skills such as communication skills through discussing translation requirements with project owners. It transformed me from a student into a productive translator and benefited my career in a long run.”

In-house Translation Internship at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)

In February 2015, one of our top students Chirata Deneve Thomsen was offered a two-week in-house translation internship in the CCAMLR office in Hobart. During the internship, Chirata was given the introduction and training in CCAMLR’s translation memory system. She worked alongside other professional translators and experts in the CCAMLR office, translating many technical documents, daily correspondence, circular letters, and updates to the website. This wonderful experience allowed her to fully apply the skills and knowledge she had learned in our program and develop in a more specialised context. 

Testimonial - Chirata Deneve Thomsen


“During this program I had the opportunity to apply many concepts studied in the T&I course and also to learn new ones about the translation flow within the organisation and scientific notions concerning Antarctica explained by experts in this area with access to the latest GIS, in addition to sustainable fishing, trade and value of the toothfish and impact of IUU fishing on VME and MPA. These concepts are also reflected in the learning of new specialised terminology required for the translation of the document.”


Tour of Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children

Every semester, we organise interpreting practicum students to visit the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children at Westmead to attend a hospital tour hosted by Australia’s famous ‘clown doctors’. As the host passionately explained the history, architectures, designs, technologies and practice of the hospital, students interpreted the host’s speech into their target languages in the mode of consecutive interpreting. The two-hour tour not only provided students with valuable background knowledge of the hospital, but also offered them an opportunity to experience real-life onsite interpreting in a dynamic setting, practicing their interpreting skills while interacting with the host, the audience and the environment.

Tour of Royal Alexandria Hospital for Children

Current Projects and Clients

Wattblock Translation Project

Wattblock is an energy-saving service company that won the UNSW Innovations Shenzhen Start-up Competition in 2014. Our students are helping them to explore the Chinese market by translating their websites, pitches, presentations, flyers, and blogs into Chinese. Some translations have just been used by the client in a trip to China, and have been instrumental in helping the client to communicate with the Chinese audience. The project keeps evolving as the client embarked on a second trip to China, and students are experiencing first hand the power and effects of their own translations in this international trade and communication.

Ongoing Translation of Akvopedia Website Content

All content has been managed, translated and reviewed by our students through industry leading translation tools and platforms. The current project involves 29 Chinese stream students, one Spanish stream student, one Japanese stream student and one Indonesian stream students. Over the semester, up to 50 webpages are being translated into Chinese and up to 12 webpages are being translated into Spanish, Japanese and Indonesian.

Firstcircle Translation Project

Firstcircle is a small business serving media design and information for investors from and to China. A dedicated translation team of five students has been set up to help the client translate various media materials. The client provides direct feedback on the quality of the translation, and sometimes offers mentorship in person on how to deal with media translation with special requirements.

UNSW International Office Translation Projects

These new Chinese translation projects are being launched with translations of the narrative and proof points for all nine UNSW faculties and news articles, as well as subtitling of the UNSWTV’s New Science Series videos. The International Office Chinese team offers full support by providing feedback and quality control. The speed of rolling out promotional materials in Chinese will be greatly increased by the participation of our students, quickly increasing the exposure of UNSW in the Chinese market.