Round Table with Professional Translators

7th March 2018

At the Roundtable Event we were fortunate enough to be joined by three professionals who work within the Translation Industry. They were:

  • Alison Exley, who has been working as a full-time freelance translator for 17 years. German and Swedish at Newcastle University, she now translates from German into English and specialises in law and finance. Alison moved to Germany in 1991. After working for various large corporations such as Coca Cola, Guinness and NatWest in areas such as finance, marketing and personnel, she decided to focus on translating full-time and moved back to the UK in 2007. Her website is:
  • Sarah Kearsey, a Project Manager at Sure Languages ( After completing her BA in History and French, Sarah decided to study for the MA Translation at Exeter, which she completed in 2017. While doing so, Sarah took part in the Translation Business Project 2016. Her role was a Reviser in the French Team, which was the winning team of that year.
  • Natalie Soper is a translator of French and Spanish into English. She studied French and Spanish at Coventry University and did a Master’s degree in Translation Studies at Cardiff University. After graduating, she worked in a language school in Plymouth before travelling around South America for a few months. Upon returning back to Plymouth she worked for an international training company, before launching her freelance translation business, called Bellingua Translations, at the beginning of 2015. You can view the website here: Natalie also has a blog on her website, the link for which is:

Right-to-left: Natalie, Sarah, Alison

The session worked as a “Question and Answer” session, and what was discussed is detailed in the document below (the questions asked are the headings and below is a summary of the answers given by the translation professionals).

Round Table Event with Professional Translators Questions and Answers


Q&A Session

19th February 2018

For this session we were joined by Matt Burden and Elly Angelova, students on the MA Translation Studies who also studied for their BA Modern Languages at Exeter. The aim was for students taking part in the Translation Business Project to ask any questions they may have about the project. When asked for tips about the project, Matt highlighted the importance of remembering that this is not just a translation project, but a business one too. Therefore it is key to get pricing right through market research and focussing on making a project. As the teams are producing specialised translations, it is important that they don’t undersell themselves. Matt also said that taking part in the Translation Business Project was a big influencing factor for him going on to do the MA Translation Studies. For her tip, Elly recommended that students try to view their projects as actual business ideas that could work, rather than just a university project. She also highlighted the importance of team cohesion, as this is something that the judges will look for evidence of in presentations.

Thank you very much to Matt and Elly for taking some time out of their days to come and talk to us!

– Miranda

MA Translation Studies students Matt and Elly led the session

Subtitling Workshop 2018

14th February 2018

Richard ran a workshop called “Learn to subtitle – in an hour!” which, as the name suggests, taught students the basic principles of subtitling in just an hour (or as it ended up being, 45 minutes)! Subtitling is the addition of written text to a video, representing the auditory verbal channel with a visual verbal channel, meaning audiences are expected to do more work. Therefore, some cultures traditionally prefer to use dubbing or voiceovers to translate films into their language.

Richard explained that the international standards which govern subtitling change the way we have to translate. He gave some examples of bad subtitling, which can involve lagging behind the spoken words, or not staying on the screen for long enough. To avoid this, the standards state that there must be no more than two lines on the screen at once. It is necessary to time the subtitle with the audio, and use different colours, or italics and normal type, for different actors or voices. The maximum line length is 35 characters, and there must be a minimum of 1 second for every 12 characters. Typically, spoken text will be reduced by a third, with adjectives and adverbs omitted to focus on nouns and verbs. This ensures that the main message gets across, and only extra detail that is not essential to the meaning of the phrase is cut out.

Richard demonstrates how to use Aegisub

The workshop then introduced Aegisub, the subtitling software that Richard was teaching us how to use. Subtitling software allows the user to easily divide a video up into timed sections, and add subtitles for them. It also checks the subtitles for conventions of length and speed. However, it doesn’t check the quality of the translation produced; this is left up to the translator. After a brief introduction we put what we had learned into practice, and subtitled a short section of an English film (as the focus here was learning the principles of subtitling rather than translating).

Students put their newly-learned subtitling skills into practice

After we had had a few minutes to do this, Richard showed us an example of the film clip with subtitles that he had prepared earlier. This demonstrated ways to overcome common problems in subtitling, for example you can blend subtitle one with another to gain more time on the screen, or lose some stylistic detail by replacing the phrase “is not a bad guy” with “is a good guy”. He then explained that there are two ways to save a subtitled clip. The first is called soft-subbing, where the video file is left intact and you have to load the subtitle file in separately. If you want to upload your file somewhere (i.e. YouTube) or embed it in a webpage, you need to use the second method, which is called hard-subbing. This is technically complex, but means that the can embed in a webpage. Finally, Richard explained that it is necessary to have a video file in order to subtitle, and warned students that they need to be careful regarding copyright laws if hosting a subtitled video on a website.

– Miranda

Introductory Event 2018

24th January 2018

Welcome to the Translation Business Project 2018! We are delighted to have had an excellent number of high quality applications for the project this year, as in previous years. The project is only possible as a result of the dedication and talents possessed by the staff and students at Exeter. It was wonderful to see all the participants together for the first time at the Introductory Event, where project leads Richard Mansell and Isabel Santafé gave a presentation outlining the timeline and aims of the project, as well as some handy hints and tips to succeed.

Richard started by explaining that the project – which runs from Week 1 to Week 10 – culminates with one winning group, but that everyone receives a certificate of participation. The project can also count towards the Exeter Award (details of which can be found on My Career Zone). The main aim of the project is to give students an insight into the Translation Industry and meet professional translators, gain employability skills and have a practical example that demonstrates these to employers. The project gives students the opportunity to develop skills that they would not necessarily use as part of their degrees, for example the use of advertising on social media platforms.

Students are able to view earlier examples of project outcomes on archive posts of this blog

A particularly exciting aspect of the project is the involvement of postgraduate students from the MA Translation Studies course, who act as mentors to a certain team to offer advice and guidance. It is rare to find interdisciplinary work of this nature at an undergraduate level! The other roles in the team echo those found in a real-life translation business, which is just one of the ways that the project aims to follow the workflow that has been established by international standards. The talk then moved on to a timeline of events that will be run as part of the project, including a Subtitling Workshop and the Final Gala where students will present their project to a panel of professional translators.

The project has received high praise from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the College of Humanities, Andrew Thorpe, as well as numerous others from within the University as well as outside bodies. Exeter’s Translation Business Project is part of the INSTB (International Network of Simulated Translation Bureaus); a network of European universities which run similar projects. This year students will be asked to fill in a questionnaire from the INSTB, as they are collecting data with the aim of improving such projects around the world.

After Richard and Isabel had finished the presentation, students got into their teams in order to get to know each other and begin coming up with ideas for their company name and first steps.

“What should we call our business?”

It was an engaging and informative session that has left participants looking forward to getting stuck into their projects. We are looking forward to seeing everyone at the next session, the Subtitling Workshop on 14th February 2018!

–  Miranda

TBP2015 Students’ Work

Here are the outstanding projects (in no particular order) that the students of the Translation Business Project 2015 have created. Well done all!


Katie Davis, Alice McAnulty,
Lani Huens, Emily Phillips,
Oliver Dobkin, Thomas Griffith, Olga Kadeshnikova, Helena Thomas and Connie van Zanten

A company specialised in subtitling. Check their website and facebook page


GERMAN TEAM:                                 transhistoria

Bryony Culliford, William Hopcroft,
Gerard Owen, Lucy Armstrong,
Hayley Johns and Tasmin Hirst

Specialised in translating museum material.

Check their website and their Twitter page



Caroline Seng, Kezia Cochrane,
Ross Britcher, Anjali Mukhi,
Rebecca White, Rosie Lewis
and Eleanor Weekes

This company specialises in the translation of graphic novels

Check their Powerpoint and a sample of their work

Henry Carr, Charlotte Evans,
Melanie Sackett,
Esther Cadle-Hartridge,
Guy Janaway and Emily Avent

A translation company that specialises in the translation of children’s books

Check their PowerpointFacebook page and Twitter




Edward Stanford-Clark, Yi-Hsuan Lee, Yulu Wan, Qin Wu, Hao Li,
Emily Decker and Alice Raymond

Exechange is a small, independent translating company based in Exeter

Check their website. Here is a sample of their work with their own illustrations!


RUSSIAN TEAM: transvod

Rebekah Olson


Final Gala Event and Feedback from Judging Panel

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Translation Business Project 2015.

It was truly inspiring and motivating to see each team presenting their impressive translation projects in our Final Gala Event on the 18th March after quite a few weeks of hard work.

Congratulations to the German group for winning! And congratulations to every group for doing an outstanding job.

We had a great judging panel of professional translators, Lisa Simpson, Cathy Dobson and Alison Exley and a business expert, Dr Alex Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Exeter Business School.

Here are some comments from our panel on the presentations event and the whole project:

Once again I was blown away by the standard of the presentations. Each team had a different area in which they excelled, but the common denominator was their sheer professionalism and drive. I was particularly impressed by the participants’ attention to detail and determination to overcome obstacles as well as their formidable presentation skills.

The artwork for the booklets and advertising materials had obviously been lovingly prepared and was of a very high standard. Above all, there was a real sense of everyone working together and, most importantly, enjoying themselves. I feel privileged to have been involved in this project and hope the students found the whole experience worthwhile. I wish them every success in their future careers.

– Alison Exley

I was truly bowled over by the very high standard, attention to detail and professional approach of all the students taking part in the Translation Business Project.
Congratulations to all of you. I hope you enjoyed the experience and if it has given you a clearer insight into and understanding of the translation world then that is a job well done. Congratulations also to the staff who, once again, did a great job in getting the project off the ground. 

– Lisa Simpson (See extended feedback)

Thank you very much for inviting me to judge on Wednesday. I really enjoyed the afternoon and was amazed at the amount and quality of work the teams had put into their projects and the professionalism of their approach and presentations. Everyone who took part has much to be proud of.

Choosing one overall winner was tough as every group excelled in different areas and ways. Here is a brief summary of what stood out in particular for me.

One afternoon wasn’t really enough time to do the different projects justice when so much work, time and effort had clearly gone in. I would like to congratulate all the students who took part and wish them all the best for their upcoming exams and the future.

– Cathy Dobson


Judging panel, TPB 2015

Judging panel, TPB 2015


Next event: Roundtable with professional translators

Hi everyone,

A big thank you to Phoebe for her interesting insight into her experiences of the project last year. I’m sure all final year students will agree that it’s reassuring to know that Phoebe’s been able to use her experience of the project in interviews as an example of teamwork. It’s that time of year where we’re all trying to balance our university workload with filling out job applications, so any transferable skills we can refer to help make the process that bit easier!

Hopefully you’ve all managed to come up with a name and logo for your translation company, as well as think about your target market and audience. Next week’s Round Table event with professional translators should help you with your research into the translation industry. Just to remind you that the event will take place on Wednesday 25th February, from 2-4pm in Room 209 of the Harrison Building.

This is a really great opportunity for you to meet industry professionals who will be able to offer you an insight into the field of translation. It would be useful for you to prepare some questions for the translators ahead of the event, as well as ask any that occur to you on the day of course.

In the meantime here a few snaps Isabel took at the last event of us all tucking into tea and biscuits for you to enjoy…

Sophie Davies
BA CH English and Spanish

Introductory Event January 2015 Introductory Event January 2015 Introductory Event January 2015