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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. Learn British Sign Language as part of your studies.

Study how language can affect wealth, opportunities and privilege in society. Learn British Sign Language and adapt to communicating with the Deaf community. Join a department renowned for its world-leading research in language. Be part of our thriving research community and study with peers that share your passion.

York campus

  • Duration – 1 year full time | 2 years part time
  • Start date – September 2022
  • School – School of Education, Language and Psychology

Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:2 undergraduate degree in a related subject

    6.5 IELTS if English is not your first language

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

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 British Sign Language (BSL) from beginners level. You will learn 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 BME communities
  • Inclusion and social justice issues relating to languages beyond English in schools
  • Social evaluations of accent, dialect and multilingualism
  • Inclusive/emancipatory (re)conceptualizations of English as an additional language.

You can join this thriving research community. Co-organise and contribute to our annual conference, the Postgraduate Forum in Applied Linguistics. Alternatively, you can join our student as researchers scheme. This allows you to work alongside staff on their research projects.

You will 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

Level 1


Credits: 15

Compulsory module

This module is suitable for beginners or those with little prior knowledge of the language. British Sign Language is a visual/gestural language. On this module you will start to understand this way of communicating. You are expected to proactively engage with the language outside of the classroom.

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

This module raises your awareness of language myths. 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: 30 credits each

Compulsory module

This module introduces you to theories and approaches in Critical Discourse Analysis. We will cover discourse and the politics of identity, discourse and power, multimodal critical discourse analysis and critical appraisal analysis.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

Apply the knowledge from your previous module to specific populations and contexts. Content may include:

  • 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

This module explores the implications of research findings in language and applied linguistics for future professional practice. It encourages you to exercise an enquiring approach to issues of language and social justice in your current or future career. We will 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 are expected to 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. The dissertation provides 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. The module will allow you to provide evidence of your ability to pro-actively formulate research plans, independently carry these out and critically reflect on your findings.

Teaching and assessment

You are encouraged to play an active role in your own learning. Module tutors will take the role of facilitators, encouraging you to think outside your own sphere of reference. You will be encouraged to share your experience and reflections through in-class dialogue and a proactive approach to learning will be promoted.

You will be helped to acquire the key skills appropriate to taught postgraduate study. These include:

  • Evaluation of your own achievement and that of others
  • The ability to develop professional relationships
  • Self-direction and effective decision-making and time management
  • Independent learning
  • The ability to work in a way that encourages continuing professional development.

The programme employs a range of teaching, learning practices including:

  • 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.

We use a range of assessment methods on the course. They cater for a diverse range of preferences in assessment type. These include:

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

For your language modules:

  • Oral exams
  • Reading/writing/grammar exams
  • Videos

There are two 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

    2:2 undergraduate degree in a related subject

    6.5 IELTS if English is not your first language

Entry onto this postgraduate course requires a minimum of a 2:2 undergraduate degree in a related subject. 

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

International Students

If you are an international student, you will need to show that your qualifications are equivalent to those above.

If your first language is not English you must show evidence of English Language competence at IELTS level 6.5 overall, with no skill below 6.0, or equivalent.

This course is not suitable if:

  • British Sign Language is your first language
  • You have British Sign Language Signature level 1
  • You have B1 level or above of the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) in British Sign Language.

APEL policy

If you can't meet these minimum requirements it may be possible to take into account evidence of Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) as an alternative method of meeting the programme’s entry requirements. In such a case, appropriate references and records of employment might be presented to support the applicant’s case for admission.

Fees and Funding

UK and EU 2022 - 2023

The tuition fee for 2022 entry to this postgraduate course is £6,500 for full time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

For UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students studying part time, the tuition fee for 2022 entry to this postgraduate course is £3,250 per year.

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

International (non-EU) 2022 - 2023

The tuition fee for 2022 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, international students on a Student Visa must be studying full-time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

More information about funding your studies is available on our International Fees and Funding page.

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

Alumni Scholarships

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

Scholarships for Alumni

Additional costs and financial support


Whilst 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.


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


We are not currently taking applications for September 2021 entry to this course. Applications for September 2022 entry will open later in 2021.

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