Guidelines for preparation, submission and defence

Translation Studies Master’s Thesis


1. What is the Treball de Fi de Màster (TFM or Master’s Thesis)?

The Master's Thesis (TFM) is a piece of original work on any specific topic in theoretical or applied translation studies in which the student, under the guidance of a supervisor, demonstrates the competences acquired during the programme.

For students who have not enrolled the course “Research Paper”, the regular TFM (10 ECTS) must be a systematic, reasoned and critical presentation of a subject of the speciality chosen by the student, which proves his or her ability to work in the academic field, and knowledge of the basic bibliography on the subject. The thesis must have clear objectives and a feasible approach leading to a process of reflection and bibliographic analysis on a subject that is closely related to the practice or theory of translation. It can consist of the study of a translation, a comparison of translations or, otherwise, with a more practical purpose, a personal translation that is also commented on and justified. Other alternatives are allowed, such as a study of a theory or discipline related to translation; for example, the study of a translation theory or the applicability of theoretical models from other related disciplines (such as linguistic, literary, cultural or social theories applied to translation).

Its topic must be related to translation in some practical or theoretical aspect, and must include aspects of one or more subjects that are covered during the course. Students are advised to point out in the introduction which courses taken during the programme are most closely related to their TFM.

In order to earn the TFM credits, students must defend their thesis in a public session consisting of a presentation and discussion before a panel (Committee) composed of three faculty members (PhD).

The subject called Research Paper (5 ECTS) can be integrated into the TFM as a single piece of research to be evaluated together with the TFM (10 ECTS). Students must prove their ability and potential to do research on a subject related to translation studies. This includes conducting a thorough literature review on the subject, formulating a research question, with possibly one or several hypotheses, choosing a methodological approach to resolve the questions posed in a way that is compatible with the scientific method, and ultimately reaching conclusions that either answer the research questions or satisfactorily explain why they cannot be answered. This TFM should make an original contribution to its field of research.


2. Who supervises the TFM project?

Supervisors guide students in the development of the TFM project and attainment of its goals, and give their final approval to the submission of the TFM for defence.

TFM supervisor(s) are assigned to students based on the students’ topics of interest, with the advice of their academic tutor, who helps contact potential supervisors and ensures that students and supervisors agree on a TFM project topic and work plan.

Once students have obtained a supervisor’s agreement they must submit an application form to the Master’s Coordinator and the academic tutor so that the TFM supervision agreement can become official. This is done via Moodle before the end of February.

Students and supervisors should then finish defining the topic and scope of the paper as well as its methodology and agree on a work plan and a means to monitor progression. If there are significant deviations from the work plan or the expected progression, or if there are clear reasons that require a change in the supervision assignment, the supervisor or the student should inform the master’s coordinator and his or her academic tutor as soon as possible. 


3. How much time should students devote to their TFM?

The TFM involves an estimated dedication of 250 hours including all of the activities and tasks needed to complete the project: bibliography review, meetings with the supervisor, data collection and analysis, writing up the paper and preparation of the oral defence.

Students may start working on the TFM as soon as they have been assigned a supervisor. Most courses are scheduled in the first and second terms, so that the third term can be devoted preferentially to the TFM.

Most of the time devoted to the TFM is for self-study.  It is the students' responsibility to inform the supervisor and, if necessary, the academic tutor, of any academic or personal difficulties that could interfere with the agreed work plan. No defence will be allowed to take place unless the supervisor has monitored the project and given his or her approval of the final version of the paper to be submitted for oral defence.


4. What should the TFM be like?

The regular TFM (10 ECTS) can be a research project as described for the integrated research TFM, but proportionally less ambitious, or it can also consist of a systematic, sound and critical analysis and exposition of a given subject, demonstrating wide knowledge of the literature and the key concepts of its specialization, and the student’s capacity for academic activity. The TFM must have the formal characteristics of the discipline; as a general rule, you can expect a final product of about 20 or 25 pages printed in double space, 12 point font for body text (plus annexes).

The Research TFM (15 ECTS) must be an original contribution by the student to his/her area of specialization. It may be useful to think of it as a piece of work meeting the standards of an article publishable in a scholarly journal. The quality of the work is more important that its length, especially since the specific characteristics of the TFM may vary according to specialization, but as a general rule, the TFM is expected to be a paper of about  30 or 40 pages printed in double space, 12 point font for body text (plus annexes).

The Research TFM must include the following sections, in the following order:

1. Cover page (using the form provided by the Department), including the title of the TFM, student name, name of the Department and the master's programme, as well as the name of the supervisor and the date of submission.

2. Introduction (a summary of the related subjects may be included here)

3. Objectives, research question(s) and hypotheses (if applicable)

4. Theoretical framework (authors and reference models, and brief motivation for the choice) and methodology (type of analysis or data processing).

5. Presentation of data and results of the analysis. Presentation of examples, with comments and analysis. Discussion.

6. General conclusions (compulsory) and partial conclusions (if applicable). Conclusions should be drawn from the findings presented in the previous sections. No new data or examples should be included.

7. Bibliography and sources of information

8. Annexes (if applicable)

For the regular TFM (10 ECTS), the previous outline is recommended, adjusting for point 3 (hypotheses are not always required), and point  4 (which could only include the methodology).

Apart from length requirements, the TFM may have the layout that best suits a clear and comprehensible argument. There is no upper limit (other than caution and the supervisor’s advice) for graphs or figures, such as screenshots or stills, which do not count towards the length of the work. The length of the paper may be negatively evaluated should the committee deem it insufficient or excessive for the stated objectives and/or according to the regulations that govern the TFM (for example, the number of credits).


5. What steps should be taken before the defence?

The TFM must be submitted at the end of the teaching period of the last academic year of the Master’s Programme (the first year of full-time students, the second year for part-time students). The supervisor must assess the paper’s suitability for submission.

Submission may take place no sooner than the fourth week of the third term and at least eight working days (Mo-Fri) prior to the scheduled oral defence session, in order to allow time for the committee members to read and assess the paper. If the defence must take place in September, submission should take place before the end of July (as August is officially a holiday period).

Students must provide via Moodle the following information:

  1. Student name and TFM title
  2. An abstract of the TFM (maximum length of 150 words in the language of the document).
  3. A list of keywords on the content of the TFM (maximum 10 words).
  4. A pdf copy of the paper, in accordance with the formal requisites
  5. A signed authorization to deposit the TFM in the UPF e-Repository.

6. What is the defence procedure?

The TFM is evaluated in a session with a committee of three PhD. faculty members. It is recommended that the supervisor be part of the committee, as it is advisable to include a referee from another department or university, and/or one from a different specialization, particularly for the Research TFM. The committee is appointed by the Master’s Coordinator at the supervisor’s suggestion.

The defence lasts up to 50 minutes, 20 minutes for the student’s oral presentation and the remaining time for questions and comments by the members of the committee to which the student must provide satisfactory answers. After the debate, the committee deliberates behind closed doors and decides on a mark, which is recorded on the evaluation report. The evaluation of the TFM, as with any other subject in the program, is reflected through a mark on a scale between 0 and 10 (allowing one decimal place) and the corresponding qualitative grade (fail, pass, good, excellent).

TFM defences will be held during the first half July, and exceptionally during the first days of September.


7. Can TFMs be published? What is UPF's Repositori Digital?

In research, dissemination of results and findings is an essential task, and we encourage students to participate in this endeavour. To initiate students in the habit of publication the Department recommends publication of those Research TFMs that obtain a grade of 9.0 or higher (Excellent) in UPF's Repositori Digital. The UPF institutional repository collects, preserves and disseminates the intellectual output in digital format resulting from academic and research activities at UPF. Its purpose is to help increase the impact of research conducted at UPF.

TFMs are included in the Treballs dels estudiants collection. TFM publication is by no means a requirement, but it is encouraged as an easy and efficient way to distribute the work to the academic world. The Master’s website may also showcase the papers with the highest grades with links to the repository.   


8. Calendar: summary

8.1 The proposal of TFM topic and supervisor choice.

Before the end of February: Submission of a "TFM proposal", including the name of the supervisor (and signature) and the topic (with a clearly descriptive title, so as to give a good idea of what to expect in the paper).

8.2 Tutorials with the supervisor

The supervisor will agree with the student on a schedule of appointments to monitor the progress of his or her work effectively.

8.3 Submission of the TFM document

Eight days prior to the date published in the calendar for the oral defence in July (or September). Supervisors and students are responsible for sending the pdf version of the TFM to the committee members, particularly the non-UPF ones.

8.4 Oral defence

30th June – 15th July, preferably, and as a general rule.

1st – 8th September, exceptionally, if justified.