Survey

General
  • id
  • username
  • 2009-06-15
  • Canada
  • University of Ottawa
  • School of Translation and Interpretation
  • Luise von Flotow
  • Director
  • Ubaldo Stecconi
  • The answers apply to the School of Translation, University of Ottawa only.
Structure
  • PhD in Translation Studies. It is officially and completely devoted to Translation Studies.
  • Students spend two semesters doing coursework, ca. six months preparing for and passing their comprehensive exams, and another 2 years completing their dissertation. The PhD can be done in 4 years.
  • Joint degrees are possible – though at the moment theoretical. We have professors co-supervising students from other universities (Bosphorus U and UOttawa, for example, or UCLA and UOttawa.) “Co-tutelle” at PhD level is currently only available with universities in France.
Admission
  • An MA in Translation Studies or a closely related field is mandatory for admission. We sometimes require incoming students to do a number of additional MA courses in Translation Theory, or Discourse and Translation, or Language and Translation if they have come from a very practical MA program in Translation, or don’t have enough credits in Translation. In Canada, students acquire an MA degree after a BA degree (i.e. in 6 years of study).
  • A student may be admitted from another field, but may be required to do some additional work in Translation Studies. They should have a Grade Point Average of at least 75% - 80% is considered desirable – have good letters of recommendation, provide a good proposal for the research project, and have knowledge of Canada’s two official languages. Passive knowledge of wither French or English is becoming acceptable.
  • The applications are sent to the School of Translation, and are considered by the Graduate Studies Committee, composed of four professors of the School. Students are absolutely free to choose their research topics, but the School carefully checks the research proposal to ensure that there are professors available to help supervise work on such a topic.
  • The selection process involves: 1) study of the file by members of the Graduate Studies Committee, 2) recommendation of the student for admission, if considered acceptable, 3) study of the file by the Faculty of Graduate and Postgraduate Studies to ensure that all administrative issues are in order, 4) offer of admission sent to student/or letter of rejection. Criteria of admission: good grade point average in all former post-secondary studies, good letters of reference, solid research proposal, knowledge of both official languages of Canada.
  • Fees: for Canadian students or permanent residents of Canada are about $5000 per year. For international students about $12000. Generous scholarships are available for Canadians and permanent residents. Special scholarships are available for francophone students. Some teaching and research assistantships are available, though these are only guaranteed for recipients of admissions scholarships.
Programme
  • Two compulsory courses exist at PhD level: 1) Contemporary Currents in Translation Studies, 2) Contemporary currents in Translation Technologies, Terminology, Lexicology; Students must take two other courses, of which one may be taken outside the School of Translation. Classes are held once a week for three hours, from Sept. to December and from January to April. No classes are held in the summer months. Students are encouraged to present their work at internal sessions for grad students and professors. Small internal conferences are organized for all PhD and MA students. Credits: each course is worth 3 credits, for a total of 12 required credits before they move on to do the comprehensive exam and dissertation.
  • Theoretical courses are required; no practical translation courses can count toward the PhD. Courses are normally taken BEFORE the comprehensive exams, and before research begins. Additional courses can be taken at any time.
    Students are encouraged to participate in in-house conferences, study days. They receive funding upon application to participate in Canadian and international conferences, and are encouraged to do so. They are also integrated into the work done by professors and professors’ research projects. Co-publications with graduate students are increasing.
  • Thesis: average length seems to be about 300 pages, though the School is currently confronted with two 450 page doctoral theses! There is some discussion about imposing a limit. Language requirements: the thesis must be written in either French or English. Time-limit for completion of PhD: 8 years. After this point, extensions must be requested and justified. A thesis may be based on articles, according to the rules of the Faculty of Graduate and Postgraduate Studies. The School has not yet seen such a thesis.
  • Generous funding is available for mobility: students at PhD level can receive a bursary of $4000 for spending one semester abroad. They can also apply for funds to travel to do research in libraries or archives elsewhere.
Supervision
  • Any professor who has been deemed acceptable to supervise theses by the Faculty of Graduate and Postgraduate Studies can supervise. Formal qualifications include a PhD, proof of on-going research activity and publication, recognition on a national and international level. Yes, co-supervisors can come from other universities but must meet the requirements of the Faculty of Graduate and Postgraduate Studies. The roles of supervisors and co-supervisors are not defined specifically.
  • Supervision at the University of Ottawa is changing. We are encouraged to have up to three supervisors for a PhD thesis, who then also participate in the PhD defense along with one external examiner from another university. For the moment, much supervision is still done by one single professor, but more and more dual supervision is underway.
  • Supervision is structured differently by every professor/student combo. However, a PhD student must submit regular progress reports, signed and commented upon by their supervisor, at least once a year, from the end of their second year, and BEFORE they register for the next year.
Assessment
  • Examination procedures: the first examination is a comprehensive exam that takes place at the end of the first YEAR of study, usually after completion of the four courses. It consists of two parts:
    Part 1: students are required to read an extensive series of selected texts (articles and book excerpts) deemed important for their general knowledge and training in Translation Studies and organized under the following headings: Aperçu général et synthétique de la discipline, Histoire de la traduction, La Traduction comme production (process-oriented), La Traduction comme produit (product-oriented), Sujet traduisant/Ethique de la traduction. They then designate one of the four last fields as their area of specialization, and are assigned a question to which they write a 15 page response. They must write a 5 page response to another question, chosen at random from one of the remaining three fields. They have one-week in which to do this writing. It is evaluated by a committee of three professors, and they pass or fail. If they fail, they can re-do the exam once.

    Part 2 : each student prepares a 30-page proposal of their thesis project, which includes a hypothesis/subject, review of the literature, discussion of theoretical modalities and research methodologies, and an annotated bibliography. This work is submitted approximately 3-4 months after completion of Part 1 of the exam, and is discussed and defended before a committee of professors. This is not a public event.

    Final defence of the dissertation: the diss is defended at an official ceremony in front of four professors – this jury usually includes members of the School of Translation and must include at least one from another university. This external professor plays the most important role as critic and outsider.

    The thesis can be recommended for special mention, or for a prize. There are no grades awarded for theses, or the final PhD diploma.
  • There is NO publication requirement. Students are encouraged and helped to produce publications before they complete their PhD, and also encouraged and helped in their work after completion.
Other
  • Strengths of PhD studies in Canada: since Canada is officially bilingual, and since this continues to be a hot political topic, there seems to be enough opportunities for our students to publish, present work, and get positions after graduation. Several have gone on to work in the government at various levels, others have found work in academia. Those who do not have either French or English as a first language are disadvantaged in this regard: Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Russian, etc. are not required languages here, and we expect that most students working with these languages (besides English and French) will have to either return to their countries of origin, seek academic employment in Literature Departments, or elsewhere. This is a weakness that cannot be compensated by the program.

    A great strength is the wonderful mix of graduate students from all over the world, all working together on related but different topics, and operating as a multicultural/ multilingual team. Many of the international students immediately apply for Canadian permanent residence and are usually granted this status within a year or two – and so the program also is a springboard for high-level immigration to Canada (and/or emigration from other places.)

    A weakness at the level of the program itself is that students can go through the coursework having contact in class with only a handful of professors – and never really gain knowledge of the others` work. This is being counteracted by internal colloquia and the like.
  • Print and electronic materials can be provided. Much is already available on the School’s/University’s website – but I am happy to supply additional matter, as requested.