Translation technologies for media access
This project offers full scholarships (at Home/EU rates) to suitable PhD candidates who wish to work on the interaction between translation/interpreting and technology, especially with regard to Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility.
Start date1 July 2020
Funding sourceResearch England – Expanding Excellence in England fund
A stipend of £15,285 for 20/21, which will increase each year in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) rate, plus Home/EU-rate fee allowance of £4,407 (with automatic increase to UKRI rate each year) and £500 for conference travel.
Established in 1982, the University of Surrey Centre for Translation Studies (CTS) is one of the UK’s leading centres for research, scholarship and teaching in translation and interpreting. CTS has recently secured funding for strategic expansion, which will enable the centre to integrate its established expertise in how professional translators/interpreters interact with, and adapt to, emerging technological ecosystems with research into the automation of these practices. This expansion project seeks to recruit eligible PhD candidates who are willing to conduct research in the following area:
PhD in Translation Technologies for Media Access
We are seeking a candidate who is interested in pursuing a PhD in the area of technologies for media access within and across language and sensory barriers, for example: automation of intra- and/or inter-lingual subtitling, respeaking or audio description (or other media accessibility practices), assessment of different configurations of human-machine interaction to optimise the physical, cognitive and organisational dimensions of these processes, evaluation of new technologies, platforms and ergonomics to improve efficiency and productivity, appraisal of user experience and reception in relation to system design, reliability and usability of different solutions.
The successful candidate will need to rely on a solid, eclectic mixed-methods approach benefiting from cross-fertilization among different disciplines (e.g. multimodality, human-computer interaction, audiovisual translation) and triangulating findings from, for instance, sensing and physiological monitoring technologies (e.g. eye tracking, EEG, galvanic skin response), with usability testing and user experience data. Projects will be evaluated on the basis of their originality (topicality and urgency of the research questions asked) and methodological innovation. The successful candidate will benefit from excellent technological working conditions, international contacts, and a stimulating interdisciplinary work environment.
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- First class or upper second class BA and Master’s level degree (or international equivalent) in Translation Studies, Linguistics, Computer Science or related field.
This competition is open to all applicants. UK, EU and overseas students are welcome to apply for the studentship posts advertised.
Please note that higher tuition fees apply for non UK/EU/EEA students and that the PhD studentships offered in the remit of this scheme are at EU/Home rates. For classification of fee status, please see:
View classification of fee status
IELTS test (test not older than 2 years): 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with at least 7.0 in the writing component and at least 6.0 in the other components.
How to apply
Applications can be made through the CTS PhD in Translation and Interpreting page.
Please state project title clearly on your research statement – this statement should be 1,000 words long, excluding references and must be uploaded in .DOC format in the “research proposal” area of the application portal.
Applicants should also include a copy of their CV, two academic references and their completed academic degrees and degree transcripts.
Applicants are encouraged to email Dr Dimitris Asimakoulas first to discuss their application.
As an internationally leading centre for research, scholarship and teaching in translation and interpreting, CTS offers a PhD programme and four Masters’ programmes, including the longest-running MA in Translation in the UK, and a Master by Research (MRes) in Translation and Interpreting Studies.
Our current research focuses on the impact of the digital transformation on translation and interpreting; on translation and interpreting in the context of migration; and on emerging forms of audiovisual and multimodal translation, especially their potential to make audiovisual content accessible to the widest possible audience.
We investigate, for example, how translators work with translation-memory systems and machine translation, how they collaborate through digital platforms, and how these developments challenge current workflows in the translation industry. We research how computerized language corpora, text mining and e-lexicography can be harnessed to develop interlingual and intralingual translation tools and resources (AHRC Project COLLOCAID). We study technology-supported distance interpreting, including how video links are used to connect interpreters to legal proceedings, how this affects the quality of interpreting and how it impacts on the efficiency and fairness of justice (EU Projects AVIDICUS 1-3, QUALITAS, UNDERSTANDING JUSTICE). A specific strand of this research relates to how technology is reshaping the communicative dynamics of interpreting and training (EU Projects IVY, EVIVA, SHIFT). We investigate how audiovisual content can be ‘translated’ into verbal descriptions for blind audiences, how this can be (semi-)automated through the use of machine learning and computer vision techniques, and how human and machine-based approaches to describing audiovisual content differ (H2020 Project MeMAD).
This is complemented by other research in the centre on multimodality and on differences between human and machine translation. Some of our most recent work focuses on how interlingual respeaking, i.e. the integration of human interpreting and automatic speech recognition to produce live subtitles in different languages, and how this can be used to improve accessibility to information, culture and entertainment (Project SMART).
The common denominator of our research is thus the study of how professional translators/interpreters interact with, and adapt to, emerging technological ecosystems and how this is changing professional practice and the products of this practice. Advances in automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence and natural language processing, availability of digital text-mining and translation technologies, and the increasing need to translate multimodal and audiovisual content have changed the practice of translation and interpreting dramatically and have raised new questions for research. Based on our expertise in researching translation and interpreting as human practices that are increasingly supported, enhanced and sometimes replaced by technology, our vision is to create an interdisciplinary centre for multilingual communication by focusing on the convergence of different modalities of human and automated translation and interpreting, thereby enabling the responsible and intelligent integration of human and machine translation. We believe that this is critical at a time when increasing automation is reshaping the Language Services Industry into one of the fastest growing industries nationally and globally. The PhD studentship holders will contribute to achieving our vision.
CTS is part of the School of Literature and Languages and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, one of the three Faculties within the University of Surrey. The Faculty has an active research culture and a strong focus on collaborative research, supported, for example, by internal seed funding schemes and strengthened by a recently awarded ESRC Impact Acceleration account. Based in Guildford just outside of London, the University of Surrey is an outstanding international University with a strong focus on digital innovation.