Course Title: Ethics and Professional Practice

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2011

Course Code: LANG5398

Course Title: Ethics and Professional Practice

School: 365T Global Studies, Soc Sci & Plng

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6067 - Advanced Diploma of Translating and Interpreting

Course Contact : Brad Paez

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 0362

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Mr Brad Paez
Phone:  99250326

Nominal Hours: 170

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites


Course Description

The course provides students with an overview of the ethical and professional framework which affects interpreting and translation practice, and to provide a reflective approach to enhance their professional practice and development.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBN934 Ethics and Professional Practice

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Outline the philosophical underpinnings of ethics in professional practice. 
  2. Examine and apply ethical frameworks of professional translating and interpreting practice.
  3. Identify potential conflict situations and apply appropriate resolution strategies, and reflect on professional and industrial issues in the translating and interpreting profession.
  4. Engage in reflective learning to further develop interpreting and translation practice.
  5. Explain the business frameworks under which interpreting and translating professionals are required to operate.

Details of Learning Activities

1. The course has a total of 170 nominal hours, of which 120 hours are an embedded mandatory practicum/work assessment component. These 120 hours are designed to provide you with, as closely as possible, real-life experience on how professional translators and interpreters work in the field. Roughly one third of the 120 hours will be allocated to interpreting activities, while the remaining hours will be on translating activities, reflecting the structure of the Advanced Diploma which offers 1 interpreting course and 2 translation courses.

2. This course is delivered in the following combination of teacher-guided and learner–guided activities: 

Learning Activity
 (50 nominal hours)
• Teacher-guided timetabled classroom lectures, tutorials, group work and guest lecturer presentations (2 hrs x 16  weeks) 32 hrs
• Learning Outcome 1: teacher-guided activities to complete outside class (including tests and revision) 8 hrs
• Learning Outcome 2: reflective journal  and essay to complete outside class 10 hours 

Practicum Activity
(120 nominal hours)
• Simulated interpreting activities within the program or with other programs inside or outside of RMIT   40 hrs (for certain languages all or part of  these activities may be replaced by workplace placement)
• Simulated translating activities 70 hrs   (for certain langauges part of these activities may be replaced by workplace placement)
• Simulated Professional Development planning outside class 10 hours:  Students will assume they are already either a new NAATI Professional Interpreter or Translator into LOTE, then plan for professional develoment activities for 2 yearsa after completing their Advanced Diploma of Interpreting and Translating. Students will be required to determine their personal professional development needs, reflect on what standards the industry expects of their performance and ask questions of current practising NAATI accredited Professional interpreters or translators about possible career pathways. The teacher will be available to discuss issues students may encounter when doing these tasks and offer resources. This activity is to be done individually. Students must upload the plan to Blackboard no later than 24.00 (midnight) Friday of week 14.  The teacher must be satisfied that the plan has demonstrated research and considered thoughts in the planning of the professional development activities in order to sign off the 10 hours worth of practicum.  The teacher may ask the student to amend or do extra work to bring the plan to a satisfactory level in order to demonstrate understanding of the importance of professional development and the ability to plan for such.

3. In teacher-directed timetabled classroom situations, you will develop a comprehensive understanding of the nature of professions and professional ethics in general, and the nature and professional ethics of the translating and interpreting profession in particular. You will develop an appreciation of the rationales, parameters and criteria used internationally to derive ethical professional frameworks, and will be introduced to appropriate methodologies to enable you to engage in ethical professional decision making and conduct.

4. In both on-site and off-site practicum activities, you will work on a combination of interpreting and translating tasks simulating real life work situations so you gain a comprehensive appreciation of how professional interpreters and translators operate.

5. Industry-based practicum placement is only applicable to certain languages, as advised by teacher, where you may be placed with an employer to observe and / or undertake relevant interpreting and translating activities under supervision.

Teaching Schedule

Week Number / Week StartingEthics and Professional Practice
Week 1

Course Introduction and Overview
Assessment expectations and criteria
Both interpreting and translating ethics
Objective: to provide frameworks and tools to use in order to decide what is the best and most appropriate practice and to equip students to be able to give a rationale for their actions in practice.

Practicum,  Theoretical and Course Assignment aspects will be fully explained. 
Brief Introduction to Ethical Theories 

Week 2

Historical overview of the T & I profession in Australia and overseas
History of interpreting .  Ethical Theory underlying the Australian context compared with the T&I profession internationally.

Week 3

Contrasts in Public Accountability:  Developing Professional Ethical Judgement in the Community and Private Sectors. 

Week 4

Debate on the Ethics of Intervention:  Negotiating the Role of the Interpreter

Week 5

Codes of Ethics: Defining how does a practitioner behaves.
NAATI and the professional Code of Ethics examined in detail. 

Week 6

The Interpreted Interview in Police and Court Interview Settings

Week 7

Professionalisation (part 1) Tsengprofessionalising’s Theory applied to Australian context

Week 8Professionalisation (part 2): the Roles of AUSIT, NAATI , and  T&I Coming of Age: National Competency Standards    
 Week 9Ethics for translators
Theory and Practice
The difference between language skills and translation skills
Ethical use of Computer Assisted Tools, machine memories and digital recording devices.
Week  10

Ethics for translators
Theory and Practice
The distinction between bilingualism and translator competence:  ethics of "crowd sourcing" professionals in other fields.  
Ethical use of Computer Assisted Tools, machine memories and digital recording devices.

Week 11

Venuti and the (In)visibility of the Translator: Ethics of Translator intervention 

Week 12

 Ethics of Information Management for Translators.  Copyright, patents, trademarks, and ownership of intellectual property

Week 13

Open for Business:  Workshop on Business Essentials:  Negotiating the assignment . (Pricing, Resources, Timing)

Week 14

Practical Business Ethics: Terms and Conditions and Ethical Business Communications for Interpreters and translators.  ISO compliance.

Week 15

Industrial and Occupational Health and Safety Issues for Translators and Interpreters

Week 16

Course Review and Practicum Journal Workshop.

Week 17Exam Period Commences
Week 18Exam Period

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Reader  -  LANG5398 Ethics and Professional Practice


Other Resources

Access to reading and multimedia resources provided on Blackboard .

Overview of Assessment

Two Learning Outcome tasks.

Assessment Tasks

Learning Outcome 1  Short Answer and Multiple Choice Questions via Blackboard (40% , every 4 weeks progressively from week 4  to week 12)

Time estimated to prepare and complete this learning outcome: 1 hour for questions/quizzes  x 4 weeks +  12 hours revision of readings and material placed on the Blackboard in preparation for testing.

The teacher will provide ethical challenger presented in case studies for students to read then respond.  The case studies will include issues discussed in class and readings. Students then need to answer questions posted by teacher on Blackboard to deminstrate they understand the theical issues involved and possible solutions.  Both interpreting and translating will be covered.  Each test is worth 10%.

Each set of questions/quiz (total 3 sets) must be done by the time designated by teacher.  Accerss to the quizzes on the Blackboard will not be available once a student misses the deadline.

Learning Outcome 2Practicum Jounal and Essay  (60%, due week 15)

Time estimated to prepare and complete this learning outcome: 6 hours

Students are required to keep a journal to record all practicum / placement activities. Students will be required to critically reflect on their experiences and note these briefly in the journal (20%).  Students are to pick one aspect of their experience and write an essay of up to 500 words (40%) to discuss professional and ethical issues, applying the Code of Ethics and related theory and models.  Because practicum is the compulsory component under this course, students will not receive the final mark for this course if this Learning Outcome is not submitted.  The maximum marks awarded for late submission will be 20% for this Learning Outcome. 

Assessment Matrix

Other Information


What do I do if I need help in this course?

You are advised to contact your teacher as soon as any difficulties arise. The Program Coordinator is available for academic advice and support. Once the issue has been identified, the Program Coordinator in consultation with your teacher and yourself, will put in place an individual study plan. This might include supplementary assessment, consultation during the conduct of assessment or granting an extension. Where these measures are inadequate, the Program Coordinator may refer you to University student support services such as student counselling or the Learning Skills Unit.

How can I have my relevant previous study or work/life experience assessed as a way of gaining credit in this course?

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) means recognition of competencies currently held, regardless of how, when or where the learning occurred. This includes any combination of formal or informal training and education, work experience or general life experience.
For RPL to be granted, the applicant must provide evidence that he/she:
• has attained the competencies described in the modules that are being claimed
• possesses current competency in the modules that are being claimed, including underpinning skills and knowledge
• has applied the relevant modules in a context that is applicable to this qualification.
Contact the Program Coordinator for further advice about applying for RPL and suitable evidence requirements.

What are my responsibilities in undertaking this course?

All students are expected to attend classes regularly and complete all set learning and assessment tasks. You are encouraged to seek support in relation to any difficulties you may have at the program level via the Program Coordinator. Students are expected to act as professionals in the learning environment, a critical capability expected of graduates in their employment.

Special Consideration

You may apply for Special Consideration by using the RMIT Application Form for Special Consideration, which is available from RMIT website. The application, with relevant documentation, must be lodged with the Student Hub prior to or within 48 hours of the commencement of the assessment task in question. Applications for special consideration are considered by the expert panel convened by the Academic Registrar (or nominee).


You are reminded that cheating, whether by fabrication, falsification of data, or plagiarism, is an offence subject to University disciplinary procedures. Plagiarism in oral, written or visual presentations is the presentation of the work, idea, or creation of another person, without appropriate referencing as though it is one’s own. Plagiarism is not acceptable. The use of another person’s work or ideas must be acknowledged. Failure to do so may result in charges of academic misconduct, which carry a range of penalties including cancellation of results and exclusion from your course.
You are responsible for ensuring that your work is kept in a secure place. It is also a disciplinary offence for you to allow your work to be plagiarised by another student. You should be aware of all rights and responsibilities regarding the use of copyright material.


How can I let my teacher know about my experience of this course?

You may discuss this with your teacher at a mutually convenient time. The School distributes confidential course assessment forms at the end of each semester for students to complete. These are analysed and action is taken to remedy defects in teaching or course administration as required. The College also conducts student experience and satisfaction surveys during semester.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview