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Undergraduate Course

British Sign Language, Deaf Studies and Linguistics BA (Hons)

Prepare for a future working with deaf communities by studying British Sign Language (BSL), deaf identities and linguistics.

Student using sign language

On this course you will learn BSL to an advanced level. This is the preferred language of over 87,000 people in the UK. You will explore the history, cultures and experiences of deaf people across the country. You can choose to learn about the role of language in education and speech and language impairments letting you specialise your knowledge and prepare for different careers.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – Q1L9
  • Duration – 3 years full time
  • Start date – September 2022
  • School – School of Education, Language and Psychology

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

Discover British Sign Language, Deaf Studies and Linguistics at York St John University

Course overview

Whether you are a beginner or have previous experience, we can help you advance your BSL skills. We will place you at the appropriate level when you arrive. By the end of the course you will be able to hold fluent conversations in BSL, allowing you to use the language for academic, social and professional purposes. If you have studied BSL previously you can still join this course, but the British Sign Language modules may contain some element of revision for you.

Our approach to teaching Deaf Studies draws on the latest research. You will explore the experiences of deaf people and consider how they have changed over time. Together we will explore different perceptions of deafness and how deaf communities in the UK are changing. In your second year you will examine the challenges faced by BSL users in the workplace on a dedicated work based module. You can also choose to study for nationally recognised Signature British Sign Language qualifications for no extra fee.

The Linguistics part of the course allows you to learn how language is structured, learnt and used. You can choose from different linguistics modules that interest you and support your ambitions. This could include exploring attitudes to language or examining multilingual classrooms. Linguistics can help you discover how language relates to identity, society and culture.

As your language skills develop you will gain an understanding of how society impacts the use of BSL. You will develop this by engaging with our welcoming community of BSL speakers. Together with your tutors and classmates, you will consider the development of the language. This includes exploring the translation processes between BSL and English.

Course structure

Year 1

Our academic year is split into 2 semesters. This course can only be studied full time.

In your first year you will study: 

  • 1 BSL module in each of semesters 1 and 2, at the right level for you
  • 2 other compulsory modules in semester 1
  • 1 other compulsory modules and 1 optional module in semester 2.

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

Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Which of these two levels you study will depend on your previous experience of British Sign Language (BSL).

If you are placed in Accelerated British Sign Language you will study at either level A1/A2 of the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR). The topics you will cover include simple description of people, living or working conditions, daily routines and more. By the end of the module you will be able to use simple everyday greetings, respond to invitations and learn to explain your likes and dislikes using BSL.

If you are placed on Enhanced British Sign Language you will study at level A2/B1 of the CEFR. will use video materials to develop your receptive skills, learning to understand signed communication and answer questions. You will learn key BSL grammatical features and practise your ability to sign short BSL narratives.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will study the history of Deaf people and Deaf communities. It introduces key terms and concepts such as postcolonialism, the Milan Congress of 1880 and the Deaf resurgence. You will be able to apply what you learn on this module to all areas of your degree. You will also consider what the future may hold for Deaf people and communities, debating it with your peers and tutors in seminars.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module we will introduce you to the linguistic areas of study that you will build on throughout your degree. This includes the basics of phonetics and grammar. You will study:

  • Contemporary issues and debates about language use
  • The historical development of language and of English
  • Academic reading, writing and referencing techniques.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module continues your learning from your semester 1 British Sign Language module.

If you are placed in Accelerated British Sign Language you will study BSL at level B1 of the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR). You will learn to use more sophisticated everyday greetings and understand signed communication to respond to and answer simple questions. By the end of the module you will be able to take part in unstructured social conversations in BSL and understand key BLS grammatical features.

If you are placed in Enhanced British Sign language you will study BSL at level B1 of the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR). This will focus on developing your receptive and productive skills. By the end of the module you will have an in depth understanding of BSL grammatical features and be able to communicate on a theme of your choice.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module is your introduction to the traditional foundations of Deaf communities and the key contemporary debates in Deaf studies. You will learn essential information such as when to capitalise the word deaf and the roots of Deaf culture in the UK and the USA. The topics you study on this module will be the foundation of your knowledge in Deaf studies.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module is your introduction to the descriptions of grammatical structures. This means looking at word classes, sentence types, morphology and more. You will look at grammatical variation found within the UK and in other parts of the world. On the module you will grasp the basic terminology, develop an understanding of key concepts and further your analytical skills.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will address the world’s linguistic diversity and consider the place of the English language in our multilingual world. You will consider language variation and multilingualism from linguistic, psychological, sociocultural and educational perspectives by studying topics like:

  • The multilingual mind and how multilingualism affects identity
  • The commodification of language
  • Bilingual education
  • Language policy and planning
  • Multilingualism and the arts.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module is your introduction to the principles of articulatory and practical phonetics. You will learn how to recognise, describe and produce some of the sounds and symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet. This means you will be able to recognise, transcribe and analyse sounds in varieties of English, other languages and children's language.

Year 2

In your second year you will study:

  • 2 compulsory modules and 1 optional module in semester 1
  • 3 compulsory modules in semester 2.

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

Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Study the use of British Sign Language (BSL) for educational purposes. You will address appropriate registers for teaching children, young people and adults. You will also study vocabulary relevant to primary, secondary, further and higher education, as well as life long learning. You will have the chance to learn and practise teaching skills, applying your knowledge in a 10 minute micro-teaching session as part of your assessment. By the end of the module you will be communicating at level B2 on the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR).

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus on the sociolinguistic elements of British Sign Language (BSL). The module provides a link between your practical and theoretical modules and gives you the change to undertake small research tasks. You will study:

  • The history of BSL
  • The visual-spatial nature of the language
  • The Deaf community
  • Culture and language learning
  • Interpreting.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will develop advanced skills in reading and analysing texts across different genres and sensory perceptions. You will study different theories and methods of analysis to understand issues of representation and power in contemporary debates. The knowledge you gain in this module will help you to apply these theories more widely in later modules.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module is your introduction to the core principles of phonology. We will introduce you to aspects of phonetics and phonology that will help you analyse variations in language, like child phonology and languages other than English. Topics you will cover on this module include:

  • The concept of the phoneme
  • Narrow allophonic transcription
  • Phonotactics and syllable structure
  • Transcription skills
  • Phonological features.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Apply your linguistic knowledge you have gained so far and explore linguistic diversity in schools and classrooms. Drawing on your knowledge of language acquisition, learning, and language diversity, you will explore the concept of language inclusion in schools and how this might work in practice. You will also explore the practice of working with multilingual children who have Special Educational Needs.

 

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Learn how to use British Sign Language (BSL) for work and consider how Deaf people interact with their work environment. You will address Deaf people’s rights in the workplace by looking at the Access to Work and the Equalities act. You will also study vocabulary relating to different careers and jobs and practise translation skills. You will also consider how communication technology, such as Skype, can be used effectively by and for Deaf people.

 

 

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will learn about different social theories used to analyse the experiences of Deaf people and communities. You will start by discussing the importance of social theory and why it is so important. This module will deepen your understanding of Deaf history and Deaf culture, focusing especially on colonialism and postcolonialism.

 

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus on your career. You will embark on a work placement for 10 days. 5 days will be completed in a graduate level role, the other 5 can be completed in a role of your choice that will be discussed with your tutor. You will consider the role of language in different workplace contexts. This might include looking at advertising, language and power and clinical communication. We will also help you to enhance your employability by providing training in:

  • Personal branding
  • Presentation skills
  • Interview and application writing skills.

Year 3

In your third year you will study:

  • 1 compulsory module and 2 optional modules in semester 1
  • 1 compulsory module and a dissertation module in semester 2.

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

Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will study how to use British Sign Language (BSL) in the context of recreational activities and consider Deaf people’s access to mainstream activities. You will learn how to use filming technology in informal environments and develop your vocabulary relating to social interactions and leisure activities.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will study how the public views language and consider the social and political issues surrounding these views. You will look at Standard English and ideas about correctness and consider public attitudes towards bilingualism and new language. You will also discuss taboo language and how attitudes can change because of technological developments.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will explore how language can be an indicator of different social and cultural identities, as well as contributing to the construction of these identities. You will apply skills you have learnt in previous modules in analysing spoken and written texts, and develop them further. This module gives you the chance to take an interdisciplinary approach to analysing the relationship between language, identity and culture. This means you might draw on other academic subject areas, such as sociology while studying.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module is your introduction to speech and language disorders. You will start by studying typical speech and language development. You will then think about communication difficulties, developmental disorders and acquired disorders in both children and adults. You will learn about the clinical applications of linguistics and consider how clinical decisions can be made using different assessment types.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will study how to use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate on topics relating to mental and physical health. You will develop your vocabulary to include words and phrases about mental health and common physical diseases. By learning to describe body parts, you will be able to communicate ailments in more detail. You will also enhance your translation skills and apply these in a translation task as part of your assessment.

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

Your dissertation is your chance to take responsibility for your learning and conduct a piece of linguistic research on a topic you are passionate about. Your tutors will support you to refine your idea and encourage you to choose a topic that you enjoy and excel in. You will also attend 1 to 1 tutorials which will help you design and conduct your research and write up your findings.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

You will learn British Sign Language in small groups of up to 25 students. We deliver your other modules through:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Workshops.

Seminar groups have up to 30 students in a class. Lectures are delivered to multiple seminar groups at the same time.

You will usually take 3 modules per semester. Each has 2 to 4 hours of contact time. We schedule our taught sessions between 9:00am and 8:00pm, Monday to Friday.

In addition to taught sessions you will have individual academic tutorials throughout each semester. You will need to engage in independent study outside of your contact time. This could include preparing for seminars, reading around topics discussed in lectures and writing assignments.

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.

Assessment

For your British Sign Language modules, assessment methods include oral exams, videos, class tests and written work. The assessment types for your other modules vary. These might include:

  • Blog posts
  • Data analysis
  • Essays
  • Exams
  • Presentations
  • Research proposals
  • Reports.

You will always receive feedback on the work you do. This will help you to improve your writing and your academic abilities.

Career outcomes

Your future with a degree in British Sign Language, Deaf Studies and Linguistics

This degree will give you skills and experience that can lead to a variety of different career paths. You will gain research, communication and critical thinking skills that are in high demand in a range of professions.

This degree could be the first step toward your career as a:

  • British Sign Language interpreter
  • Social researcher
  • Speech and language therapist
  • Teacher
  • Translator.

Discover more career options on Prospects careers advice pages.

You could also progress onto a postgraduate degree and take your learning even further.

Whatever your ambitions, we can help you get there.

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 doesn't end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain experience and confidence to succeed. It's your career, your way.

Entry requirements

Qualifications

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Calculate your UCAS Tariff points

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 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Mature Learners Entry Scheme

If you have been out of education for 3 years or more and have a grade C GCSE in English Language or equivalent, you are eligible for our entry scheme for mature learners. It's a scheme that recognises non-traditional entry qualifications and experience for entry onto this course. Information on how to apply can be found on our dedicated page.

Mature entry offer scheme

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

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK or EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK and EU 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry onto this course is £9,250 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page.

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

International 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

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 degree.

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

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.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

For detailed information on accommodation and living costs, visit our Accommodation pages.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses.

For advice on everything from applying for scholarships to finding additional financial support email fundingadvice@yorksj.ac.uk

Course highlights

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