Online courseIoL Diploma: Distance Course

Chartered Institute of Linguists Diploma Preparation Course

Spanish > English

About the online course

An ideal course for those who want to improve their translation skills and obtain a professional qualification


Lucy Banham
Course tutor

IH Barcelona has acted as a centre for the Diploma in Translation examination since 1991, and has been running a preparation course for the exam since 1992.

Though the CIOL exam provides the focus for the course, the course can also provide broader guidance for people keen to develop a critical and independent approach to translating. In early June we hope to be able to advise course participants whether they are ready for the exam or need to accumulate more experience [ more about the exam ].

The exam takes place in January each year. Our next course, starting in February 2016, will be preparing candidates for the exam in January 2017.

Structure of the distance course

The course comprises 8 modules. Module 1 is an introduction to the exam; it includes a full set of papers to give you an idea of what is required, and the first specimen text, which you should translate and send in for assessment.

Modules 1 to 4 look at aspects of the theoretical background of translation and different ways of approaching a text, and provide sets of short translation exercises and specimen papers from previous years. These exercises and specimen papers constitute the module's assignment, which should be sent in for correction and feedback. These early modules thus comprise an "academic" or "theoretical" part, and a practical part.

Module 1 includes a full set of papers to give you an idea of what is required, and the first specimen text, which you should translate and send in for assessment. In module 1 we also compare two English translations of a García Márquez short story, and the analysis of the two English versions will shed light on their differences in focus.

Module 2 looks at an article by Umberto Eco in which he discusses his relationship with his translators, and a number of issues related to literary translation.

Module 3 focuses on a criticism of the English translations of Thomas Mann, raising questions of the status of a translated text in relation to the original.

Module 4 assesses two journalistic translations of an article by Salman Rushdie.

Each of these four modules contains a specimen paper from previous years and short paragraphs for translation, which make up the modules' assignments. By the end of module 4, students will have sent in 8 pieces for assessment, and at this stage we advise course participants whether we think they are ready for the exam or need more practice. Obviously, the decision to take the examination is entirely up to the students themselves.

With Module 5, we begin to look specifically at the CIOL examination itself:

Module 5 focuses on one exam session – 2001 – discussing the texts in detail and providing model texts for comparison.

Modules 6-8 cover the semi-specialist papers: module 6 literature and social sciences, module 7 technology and science, and module 8 business and law. The tutor gives detailed commentary on participants' work and also provides a model translation of each text for comparison. Course participants will be given two full sets to complete at home as mock exams; these may also be sent in for assessment.


The workload is expected to be about 8 hours for modules 1-4 and about 10-12 for modules 5-8.

New modules begin on average every five weeks. The first module begins at the beginning of February; the second at the beginning of March, module 3 in April, and so on. After the eighth module, three sets of mock exam papers will be looked at in November and December.

This is the overall plan; nonetheless, the distance format offers a certain flexibility, and we are usually able to adapt if participants' other commitments oblige them to work at a different rhythm.

Dates and times 2016

  • Course: February 1st—December 16th, 2016
  • Exam: January 2017


  • €650

Face-to-face course

We also run this same course face-to-face in Barcelona.

Apply for the course

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