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Postgraduate Course

Language and Social Justice with British Sign Language MA

Combine your passion for social justice with the study of language and learn British Sign Language (BSL) as part of your course.

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Study how language can affect wealth, opportunities, disadvantage and privilege in society. Learn British Sign Language (BSL) and how to communicate with the Deaf community. Join a community renowned for its leading research in language. Become part of our thriving research community and study with peers that share your passion.

York campus

  • Duration – 1 year full time, 2 or 3 years part time
  • Start date – September 2024
  • School – School of Education, Language and Psychology

Minimum entry requirements

    2:1 honours degree in a related subject

    Written task If you do not meet these criteria

Tuition fees

    UK 2023-24 £7,000 full time

    International 2023-24 £13,000 full time

Discover why York St John University is The One

Course overview

Study applied linguistics and explore its contribution to social justice. Examine the theories and approaches in language analysis and apply this knowledge to specific social justice contexts. As part of the course, you will study BSL from beginners level, learning to hold conversations with others on familiar topics. We will prepare you to engage with communities and contribute to their wellbeing.

Staff research areas include:

  • Language, social justice and deaf communities
  • Language, gender and sexuality-related inclusion in schools
  • Language and in/equalities in higher education
  • Language-based analysis of York’s and the North East region’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities
  • Inclusion and social justice issues relating to languages beyond English in schools
  • Social evaluations of accent, dialect and multilingualism
  • Inclusive and emancipatory (re)conceptualisations of English as an additional language

You can join this thriving research community. You may be involved in organising and contributing to our annual conference, the Postgraduate Forum in Applied Linguistics. Alternatively, you can apply to join the student as researchers scheme. This allows you to work alongside staff on their research projects.

You'll join a community of students and staff who share your passion for language. Take advantage of our community engagement programmes to enhance your studies. Engage with the deaf community and practice your BSL communication at our Sign Bar. Organise and take part in fundraising events for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

Course structure

How you will study

You can study this postgraduate course full time or part time. This allows you to fit your studies around other commitments.

If you choose to study full time the course will take 1 year to complete. You will study:

  • 6 compulsory modules
  • An independent project or dissertation

If you choose to study part time the course will take 2 or 3 years to complete and the modules will be split across the years.

You can find out which modules are available in each term in the Course Specifications.


Credits: 30

Compulsory module

On this module we will introduce you to theories and approaches in critical discourse analysis, an essential method of research. You will cover topics such as:

  • The politics of identity
  • Discourse and power
  • Multimodal critical discourse analysis
  • Critical appraisal analysis

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

On this module you will gain awareness of myths surrounding language. By critiquing these myths we will introduce you to theoretical frameworks and detailed methods of language analysis. This will prepare you for further study of these in subsequent modules.

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

This module is suitable for beginners or those with little prior knowledge of British Sign Language, which is a visual/gestural language. You will begin to understand non verbal ways of communicating and engaging with the language outside of the classroom.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

This module follows from the knowledge gained in the Approaches to Critical Discourse Analysis and the Language Myths modules. You will examine the relation between language and social justice within specific populations and contexts such as:

  • Socio-economic status
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Speakers of minority language varieties
  • Language and language-related disorders
  • Defendants and plaintiffs
  • Non-native speakers
  • Ethnicity and race

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

On this module you will explore the implications of research findings in language and applied linguistics for future professional practice. We will encourage you to exercise an enquiring approach to issues of language and social justice in your current or future career. We will also prepare you to conduct research project work or a campaign in the field of language and linguistics.

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

On this module you will develop the ability to communicate with deaf people in a range of familiar and work-related contexts. You will participate in longer and more open-ended exchanges. You will proactively engage with the language outside of the classroom.

Credits: 60

Compulsory module

Your final piece of work will either explore a specific research question about a topic within language and social justice. Alternatively, you will produce this in the form of a campaign. This is an opportunity for you to show that your knowledge of language and social justice can be applied to research. You will be supervised by an academic member of staff but will be guided towards taking independent responsibility for your own work. You will provide evidence of your ability to pro-actively formulate research plans, independently carry these out and critically reflect on your findings.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

Teaching will consist of a mixture of group lectures, seminars and individual tutorials.

You will be encouraged to take responsibility for your role in managing your own learning and its outcomes. Our Academic Support team can help with written English, study, research and technology skills if needed.

We keep our group sizes small so we can get to know your creative personality and support your aspirations.
You will learn through:

  • Lectures (with supporting materials posted on the VLE)
  • Tutor and student-led seminars; workshops and discussion groups
  • Independent study and research
  • Collection and analysis of data

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.


We use a range of assessment methods that will suit a range of preferences. These include:

  • Essays
  • Oral presentations 
  • Self-reflection
  • Data analysis
  • Videos

For your language modules:

  • Oral exams
  • Reading, writing and grammar exams
  • Videos

There are 2 options for your final project. You can conduct a final research project or plan a language and social justice campaign.

You will receive support and feedback on assessments prior to submission. You will also receive feedback on each submitted assessment. This will allow you to continually improve your academic work.

Entry requirements


Minimum entry requirements

    2:1 honours degree in a related subject

    Written task If you do not meet these criteria

If you do not meet this criteria, either because your undergraduate degree is not in a related discipline or you do not have a 2:1, you are still encouraged to apply. We will ask you to submit a piece of written work that we will consider as part of your application.

You can find an example of the sort of task we would ask you to complete here:

Task for MA Applicants (Doc, 17KB)

You can join this course as a beginner in British Sign Language.

The course is not suitable if British Sign Language is your first language, if you have British Sign Language Signature level 1, or if you have B1 level or above of the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) in British Sign Language.

International students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 6.5 (with no skill below 6.0) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

If you do not have traditional qualifications, you might be able to provide evidence of professional experience in the subject as an alternative way to meet the entry requirements. This is called Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). Appropriate references and records of employment would need to be presented to support your case for admission. 

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and funding

UK 2023 - 2024 entry

The tuition fee for 2023 entry to this postgraduate course is:

  • £7,000 for full time study
  • £3,500 per year for part time study

These costs apply to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

Postgraduate loans are available to help you pay for your master’s course. Find out more about funding your postgraduate studies.

Funding opportunities

International 2023 - 2024 entry

The tuition fee for 2023 entry to this postgraduate course is:

  • £13,000 for full time study
  • £6,500 per year for part time study

These costs apply to all students living outside the UK.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a student visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your postgraduate studies.

International Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

    UK 2023-24 £7,000 full time

    International 2023-24 £13,000 full time

Alumni Scholarships

If you are alumni of York St John University we have scholarships available to help you continue your studies.

Scholarships for alumni

Additional costs and financial support

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Career outcomes

Where could Language and Social Justice with British Sign Language take you?

This degree could lead you to a career related to Language, Social Justice, and BSL in a number of fields, such as working in local government, education, the charity sector or the police. Or it could take you in a completely different direction, using the many transferrable skills you will develop. This will give you an advantage in careers such as:

  • A political party
  • Local government
  • Policy development
  • The Civil Service (they offer a Fast Stream graduate scheme)
  • Political and social research
  • Charities
  • Interpreting

Stand out from the crowd with postgraduate study.

Far fewer people have postgraduate degrees than undergraduate qualifications. This gives you something extra to set yourself apart in a competitive graduate job market. Those with a postgraduate qualification will earn an average of £7,000 a year more than those with only an undergraduate degree. (Department For Education Graduate Labour Market Report 2020)

Our careers service, LaunchPad, provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support does not end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain the experience and confidence you need to succeed.

Apply for this course

Applications are not yet open for this course. Please check back here closer to the time for application links.

When applications do open, you will need to apply to us directly through a link on this page. To complete the online application form you will need to create login details.

Please contact 2 referees before submitting your application. An automated request for a reference will be emailed to them as soon as you submit. Your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

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