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Literary Translation in Theory and Practice

Study information - German-taught master's programme
Open book
Image: Adobe Stock/ magdal3na
Key facts
Master of Arts
4 Semesters
Teaching language
Tuition fee
Semester contribution
€ 272,80
Start of studies
Winter semester, Summer semester
Part-time possible
Faculty of Arts
Institute of Classics
Institute of Romance Studies de
Institute of Slavic Studies and Caucasus Studies
Application & Deadlines

Programme summary

My olde fellow Nolano tolde me, and taught publikely, that from translation all Science had it’s of-spring.

John Florio


The Master's program "Literary Translation in Theory and Practice" combines "poetry and knowledge" (Heinz Schlaffer) in an innovative way, that is the methodology of philology and translation criticism with the practical tools of literary translation.

For this purpose, a unique institutional setting has been established that provides for close cooperation with the Klassik Stiftung Weimar (Weimar Classic Foundation), in particular with the Goethe-Schiller-Archive and the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, both responsible for the design of the module "edition and research". The three master classes, which form the core of the students' translation training, will also take place in cooperation with the “Klassik Stiftung” at the picturesque Wielandgut Oßmannstedt near Weimar.

At the end of the program, graduates will have acquired in-depth methodological knowledge and advanced skills in the field of philological text work and text editing, with particular reference to the history, theory and interpretation of literary translations. Graduates will also have acquired skills enabling them to engage in literary translation as a professional activity. Finally, they will have familiarized themselves with the economic aspects of cultural work that are necessary for a professional life in the translation business.


From the beginning of the program, each student chooses one of three possible specializations (either Latin studies, Romance studies or Slavic studies). The students then define a language focus within the language family represented by the philologies mentioned (e.g. New Latin or French or Russian).

Of the 12 compulsory modules provided in the curriculum, the students take 4 in the chosen specialization: These include questions of translation history and theory, as well as translation criticism; they also deal with literary and linguistic contexts of translation.

The remaining, cross-language modules deal with aspects of editing, writing techniques and cultural management for translators. Not least, the students are introduced to the activity of literary translation: For this purpose, three master classes led by professional translators will be held, which will take place annually at the Wielandgut Oßmannstedt near Weimar and which, comparable to multilingual translator round tables, will provide a forum for discussing "specific problems of literary translation”.

Another special feature of the program is the project-oriented "e-portfolio" module, a platform for managing and archiving academic performances and work samples that each student designs individually.

In addition, an internship is a mandatory part of the program, which can be completed either in libraries, archives or publishing companies and, if desired, in a combined form. The program ends with a master's thesis.

To register for courses in the MLÜ-IKM Module, you will need to apply for admission as a visiting student at the University of Music Franz List Weimar. This must usually be done by 15 March for the summer semester and 15 September for the winter semester. You must submit a new application for each semester in which you register for courses in this module (the module consists of several courses and can be completed over the course of several semesters). If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr Kerstin Gerth (Academic Advisor in Weimar):

Special features

  • Genius loci of the “twin city” Weimar-Jena: The program builds on the tradition of translation in the Goethe period in Jena and Weimar, both in terms of content and the choice of locations (Jena, Weimar, Oßmannstedt) and the institutional context (Friedrich Schiller University, Weimar Classic Foundation, University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar).
  • Cooperation: The close cooperation with the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, that is with the Goethe-Schiller Archive and the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, stands for tradition and innovation in research and teaching, as well as a high level of competence in the cataloguing of literary sources.
  • Language diversity: A total of three specializations can be chosen from the language groups of Latin studies, Romance studies and Slavic studies. The spectrum of languages offered, which includes the canonical modern languages French, Italian, Spanish and Russian as well as Classical Philology (Latin), Latin Philology of the Middle Ages and the Modern Era, and the "small" southern and eastern European languages such as Romanian, Bulgarian and Serbian/Croatian, is unique throughout Germany.
  • Close integration of theoretical and practical training: The complexity of literary translation is fully taken into account by linking philological hermeneutics, editorial expertise and practical translation skills in different teaching formats (seminars and lectures; workshops and master classes under the guidance of archivists or librarians and professional translators).
  • Professional orientation and self-management: Through integrated practical phases, through the introduction to various aspects of cultural economics and the instructions for self-reflection and self-presentation (e-portfolio), the students are optimally prepared for professional practice.
  • Excellent research and expertise in literary translation: All participating lecturers have many years of experience in literary translation and edition philology. They are active in both basic and applied research.
  • Excellent teaching and a good supervisory relationship: Do you enjoy working in small seminar groups and workshops and would you like to experience the integration of modern and interactive teaching formats as well as action-oriented projects? Then this Master's program is exactly the right choice for you!
  • Internationality: Thanks to numerous cooperations with foreign partner universities, individual study sections can be completed abroad. Participation in international translation colleges or practical phases abroad are generally welcomed and can be accompanied by the participating lecturers in an advisory capacity.
  • A city with character: The Friedrich Schiller University attracts students and scientists from all over the world with attractive conditions, shaping Jena's character as a future-oriented and cosmopolitan city.

Career opportunities

Students in the library
Students in the library
Image: Christoph Worsch (University of Jena)

The Master's degree in "Literary translation in theory and practice" qualifies for numerous fields of activity involving literary translation. These include in particular:

  • work in libraries, archives and publishing houses
  • self-employment as a literary translator
  • adult education and knowledge management
  • university research (with the option of further academic qualification)

Admission requirements

  • Undergraduate Degree or Equivalent

    Subject-specific Bachelor's degree or equivalent degree in the chosen specialisation (minimum 60 ECTS or equivalent): Slavonic Studies, Romance Studies, Classics (Latin).

  • Language Requirements

    A language proficiency proof on level C1 according to the Common European Reference Framework for languages in the chosen specialisation is mandatory. Has such a level not been attained by the time of their application, candidates must prove the proficiency by the end of their first study year.

    Proficiency in another foreign language on level B1 according to the Common European Reference Framework for languages has to be demonstrated by the time of an application. 

    In addition to that, international candidates have to prove their German proficiency on the level C1/C2 in order to maintain a chance for admission - regardless of their chosen specialisation (for more details cf. below: additional application documents for international students)

Application documents

  • CV

    Your CV should have a tabular form, containing key information on your school record and academic career.

  • Motivation and Selection of Specialisation

    A motivation letter should not exceed the size of two DIN A4-pages and normally, it should contain information on your motivation for taking up this course of studies. You should elaborate on the following essential questions:

    • What specialisation will you choose and why?
    • Why do you desire taking up this specific course of studies?
    • What are - in your opinion - the main features that this course of studies excels in?
    • Which features of this course have inspired your application? 
    • Why the University of Jena?
  • University entrance qualification certificate

    Please upload at the online application system your university entrance certificate/school leaving certificate. Usually, this means the school graduation diploma (German "Abitur"), i.e. the diploma that makes you eligible for studies at an University or other institution for higher education. Be mindful of the fact that here, we do not need any University diploma but a High School diploma! 

  • Previous university degrees earned

    All previous University degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, etc.) if available before the application deadline - if not, please make a note of the anticipated date of issue of your degree certificate. Please upload your University degree or the most actual, detailed transcript of records/ mark sheet of all semesters available to you, should you not hold your degree certificate at the time of application. The main document is the degree/ transcript based on which you apply for the master programme.

  • Detailed transcript of records

    Detailed transcript of records/ mark sheet of your first, subject-specific University degree, with which you apply for the master's programme. This transcript MUST contain an overall cumulative grade point average or average mark.

  • Proof of relevant work experience

    Should you have obtained subject-specific work experience, you can upload corresponding certificates in order to support your application. 

  • Proof of subject-specific practical experience

    Should you have obtained subject-specific practical experience (e.g. by internships etc.), you can upload corresponding certificates in order to support your application. 

  • Proof of Language Proficiency

    Please upload here the following language proficiency certificates:

    • Proficiency Certificate: Level C1 and or Latin proficiency in the chosen specialisation
    • Proficiency Certificate: Level B1 in another modern foreign language

    International Students: Certificate DSH-2, TestDaF 4*4*4*4 or equivalent.

Additional application documents for international students

  • Proof of German language proficiency

    For German taught master's programmes, i.e. programmes with (predominantly) German as language of instruction, a sufficient German language proficiency proof is mandatory. Please see the information on the language requirements for the master's programme of your interest on the corresponding website.

    The Friedrich Schiller University Jena accepts the following certificates as German language proficiency proof exclusively:

    • the Goethe-Zertifikat C2 (GDS),
    • the Deutsche Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz (DSD II),
    • the TestDaF, minimum TDN 4 in all four parts of the examination,
    • Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH), min. level 2 (= DSH-2),
    • Certificate telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule (min. level "befriedigend"),
    • a German language examination in the framework of an assessment test at a preparatory college.

    Please note: If you do not have the required mandatory German language proficiency proof at the time of applying, you may only apply if you can provide a certificate attesting your German language skills at least at level B2 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) as well as a confirmation that you have either registered for the DSH examination, the TestDaF or an equivalent examination or that you have sat it and are going to receive the results before the end of the current semester.

    There is also the possibility to apply for the (chargeable) "German Language Course Preparing for the German Language Examination (DSH)" at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Please note: Prerequisites for the application for the preparatory course are language skills at least at the certificate level B1 / GER (e.g. Goethe-Zertifikat B1, TestDaF at least 4x3 and/or 800 teaching units from a recognized language school). For detailed information on the application and further information, please visit the website of the International Office or contact the International Office directly via Mail.

    Shortly before taking the DSH-2-Examination or after successfully passing it, you are welcome to apply for a German taught master's programme!

    The following applicants are exempted from providing proof of their German language skills:

    • Applicants, who have obtained a German taught bachelor's degree within one of the following countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. This applies only to degrees that were awarded by a university in the relevant country (no satellite campuses or international branch campuses in other countries, no correspondence course degrees, no joint- or double-degrees with institutions in other countries);
    • Holders of a German, Austrian or Swiss (from school where the language of instruction is German) university entrance qualification.
  • Translation of foreign/external application documents

    Every mandatory application document from foreign/external countries must also be available in either English OR German translation. Such a translation has to be conducted by officially acknowledged/ sworn translators or translation offices.

  • Proof of grading system

    External/foreign degree certificates/ transcripts of records must contain information on the grading system (= description of the maximum grade possible and the minimum passing grade) used at the respective University. 

  • Certificate APS

    Applicants with degrees from India, Vietnam or China must submit the original APS-certificate issued by the German Embassy.

  • University entrance exam

    Applicants from the following countries must submit a certificate of their university entrance examination/college entrance examination:

    • Iran (College entrance examination certificate or certificate of pre-university course/year)
    • Republic of Korea/South Korea: SAT (Scholastic Ability Test)
    • People's Republic of China: College entrance examination certificate ("Gaokao")
Subject Advisor Romance Studies - Prof. Dr. Edoardo Costadura

Office hours:
by appointment

Subject Advisor: Latin Studies - Prof. Dr. Susanne Daub

Office hours:
by arrangement

Postal address:
FSU Jena
Institut für Altertumswissenschaften
Fürstengraben 1
07743 Jena

Subject Advisor Latin Studies - Prof. Dr. Meinolf Vielberg

Office hours:
Nach Vereinbarung

Postal address:
FSU Jena
Institut für Altertumswissenschaften
Fürstengraben 1
07743 Jena

Subject Advisor Slavonic Studies - Prof. Dr. Andrea Meyer-Fraatz

Office hours:
Nach Vereinbarung

Student Representatives Romance Studies
Student Representatives Classics
Student Representatives Slavonic Studies
Academic Office for Student Affairs and Examinations

Office hours:
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