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Undergraduate course

British Sign Language & Educational Linguistics BA (Hons)

Want to learn British Sign Language whilst gaining a greater understanding of language use and learning?

sign language

At York St John University we have a long-standing tradition of studying languages in use, including British Sign Language. If you've ever wondered how language impairments can affect our learning, or what language diversity in the classroom means for students and if you have an interest in British Sign Language (BSL) then this course is for you.

  • Available in Clearing

96% of Graduates from our School of Languages and Linguistics were in employment or further study within six months - DLHE 2017

York campus

  • UCAS Code – Q1L8
  • Duration – 3 years full-time | 6 years part-time
  • Start date – September 2020
  • School – Languages & Linguistics

Minimum Entry Requirements

    96 UCAS Tariff points

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

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2020-21 £9,250 per year

    International 2020-21 £12,750 per year

Discover why York St John is The One

Course overview

Our experienced and award-winning British Sign Language staff take great pride in their personal approach to learning and teaching and we can accomodate you no matter what your previous experience of BSL. Throughout the programme you will have the opportunity to take a nationally-recognised Signature BSL qualification, which is invaluable if you wish to continue working with Deaf people upon graduation.

You will progress to an advanced level of BSL and explore how to apply the study of language structure within an educational context. You'll consider the multilingual classroom, first and second language acquisition, language impairments and the acquisition of written language. You'll also study the historical contexts of deaf people and the socio-cultural aspects of BSL use. We will discuss how BSL has developed and its relation to other sign languages in the world, as well as exploring the key philosophies around sign languages and deaf people from Ottoman Empire to present times.  

This programme is ideal if you are considering a career working with Deaf children as a teacher, SEN specialist or speech and language therapist.

Course structure

Year 1


Accelerated British Sign Language 1 (20 credits)

We have designed this module for beginners in British Sign Language (BSL) so if you have little or no experience, you will take this module. You will study BSL at level A1/A2 on the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR). You will learn to give a 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.

Enhanced British Sign Language 1 (20 credits)

We have designed this module for those who have prior experience of British Sign Language (BSL), so if you have studied it before, this is the module you will take. You will study BSL at level A2/B1 of the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR). Using various video materials, you will develop your receptive skills, learning to understand signed communication and answer questions. You will learn key BSL grammatical features and practice your ability to sign short BSL narratives.

Deaf History (20 credits)

On this module you will study the history of Deaf people and Deaf communities. It introduces key terms and concepts such as post-colonialism, the Milan Congress 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, discussing it with your peers and tutors in seminars.

English Language and Linguistics (20 credits)

This module aims to develop your critical awareness of language. It will introduce the historical development of language and of English, of linguistics, and a variety of systematic approaches to language study.

Accelerated British Sign Language 2 (20 credits)

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

Enhanced British Sign Language 2 (20 credits)

This module continues your learning from Accelerated British Sign Language 1. You will study BSL at level B1 of the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR). You will focus on developing your receptive and productive skills. By watching more complex video material you will also enhance your BSL receptive skills. At 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.

Descriptive Grammar of English (20 credits)

On this module you will examine the grammatical framework of linguistic structures. You will consider how the elements of this framework relate to meaning. Where possible, you will explore these issues in relation to real texts.

Multilingualism (20 credits)

On this module, you will address the worlds linguistic diversity and variation. The module situates the English language within the context of our multilingual world. You will consider Language variation and multilingualism from linguistic, psychological, sociocultural and educational perspectives.

Year 2


British Sign Language for Education (20 credits)

Study how to use 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 and cover lifelong learning too. The module gives you the chance to learn and practice 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).

Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom (20 credits)

Apply your linguistic knowledge and explore linguistic diversity in schools and classrooms. You will draw on your knowledge of language acquisition, learning, and language diversity. 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.

Sociolinguistics of British Sign Language (20 credits) 

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. 
British Sign Language for Employment (20 credits)

Learn how to use British Sign Language (BSL) for employment 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 practice translation skills. You will also consider how communication technology, such as Skype can be used effectively by and for Deaf people.

Language and Literacy (20 credits)

On this module, you will develop the ability to apply your linguistic knowledge to literacy acquisition. You will examine how oral language development feeds into reading and writing development. We will teach you how to analyse reading and writing performance at various stages of literacy development.

Language at Work (20 credits)

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. You will consider the role of language in different workplace issues. 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


British Sign Language for Recreational Activities (20 credits)

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.

Attitudes to Language (20 credits)

On this module you will examine publicly held views of language covering topics such as Standard English and correctness. With reference to education you will investigate the social, political and ideological issues associated with these views.

Speech and Language Pathology (20 credits)

This module will provide you with a comprehensive introduction to speech and language pathology. You will develop an appreciation of how clinicians evaluate and make decisions about intervention to remediate speech and language difficulties in both adults and children.

British Sign Language for Mental and Physical Health (20 credits)

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.

Dissertation (40 credits)

Your dissertation is the moment where you really take responsibility for your learning and conduct a piece of linguistic research on a topic of your choosing. Your tutors will help you to refine your idea, encouraging you to choose a topic that you enjoy and excel in. You will then attend 1 to 1 supervision where they will support you as you design and conduct your research and write up your findings.

Teaching & Assessment


British Sign Language classes are delivered in small groups of up to 25 students. Educational Linguistics modules are delivered using a mixture of lectures, workshops and seminars.

Academic and research skills are embedded in modules, for example, academic writing and referencing, peer review, use of web based resources for document sharing and the use of wikis and blogs.

Teaching and Assessment

You will take three modules per semester (except for your final semester when you will take a 40-credit dissertation module and one other module). Each module has 2-4 hours of contact time. The taught sessions could be spread across all five days of the week, or could be concentrated into fewer days. Taught sessions are scheduled between 9.00am-8.00pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9.00am-1.00pm Wednesday, and 9.00am-6.00pm Friday.

As well as the taught sessions, you will also have academic tutorials through the semester, you can set up tutorials with your module tutors, and you'll be able to attend events such as the Colloquium Lectures and Language Talks.

Self-study time

If you are joining us from school, college or the workplace you will probably feel you have a very empty timetable. This is becuase a 20-credit module, which is equivalent to 200 hours of study, only has 2-4 hours a week of contact time - the rest is study you are expected to do yourself.

We support students in achieving this by giving lots of guidance on what to study, including weekly readings and preparation for assessments, and offering regular tutorials and drop-in sessions with module tutors so you can get feedback on your work. All modules are supported by materials hosted on Moodle, the University's Virtual Learning Environment.


Our British Sign Language academic staff are Amanda Smith and Dr Dai O'Brien.

You will be taught Educational Linguistics by other academic staff in the School. The Head of the School of Languages & Linguistics is Rachel Wicaksono. The British Sign Language & Educational Linguistics programme is managed by the Subject Director for Languages and TESOL Dr Becky Muradás-Taylor. University support staff are well intergrated into our programme, for example, a representative from the library contributes sessions on research and referencing over the course of the programme.

Entry Requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English 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 your first language is not English you must show evidence of English language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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 & EU 2020 entry

The tuition fee for 2020 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.

International (non-EU) 2020 entry

The tuition fee for 2020 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 Tier 4 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

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

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. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

Aspire Card

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