British Sign Language and Applied Language Studies at Heriot-Watt University - UCAS

Course summary

The MA BSL and Applied Language Studies prepares students to become professionals working with deaf communities who use British Sign Language. It is designed to lead students from a beginners level of BSL to achieving professional competence in signed interactions and is taught by a deaf and hearing team. In Levels 1, 2, and 4, students follow a mixture of mandatory and optional courses that develop their BSL language skills and explore different aspects of deaf history and culture. In level 3, students will develop their employment-related skills through work placements within the deaf community in the UK. Level 1 Students take two intensive, practice-oriented courses in BSL and mandatory courses that increase their intercultural awareness and understanding of deaf history and culture. They also have the opportunity to choose from a range of elective courses. Level 2 Students take two intensive, practice-oriented courses in advanced BSL (one per semester), as well as mandatory courses that explore the nature of signed and spoken languages and further their knowledge and appreciation of current debates surrounding the deaf community and issues in the wider deaf world, based on world-leading research at Signs@HWU. Two courses can be chosen from a range of elective courses. Level 3 Year 3 is usually spent in two placements, where students work in the signing community with organisations in the field, further developing their language skills and cultural awareness. This placement is self-financed. Level 4 At this level, students will further develop their BSL competence and their understanding of current deaf political studies. Through a selection of optional courses, students can tailor their programme of study to meet their interests and career aspirations with a view to postgraduate specialisation in another field (such as teaching, social work, language therapy, etc). Level 4 also includes an Honours Dissertation, which is completed in the course of the year.

How to apply

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Edinburgh Campus
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Points of entry

The following entry points are available for this course:

  • Year 1

Entry requirements

Standard Qualification Requirements

Advanced entry is not available for our British Sign Language programmmes. A demonstrable interest in BSL /Deaf culture is required and all shortlisted applicants are invited to interview. We operate contextual admissions defined by our Fair Access Policy which may mean entry requirements are flexible. Students who are non-native speakers of English will need to achieve either the IELTS test with 7.5 or the CPE with B. We accept a wide range of other qualifications from the UK, Europe and International countries. Please contact the Admissions Officer for the programme for further information on the entry requirements for these.

Minimum Qualification Requirements

As part of the Fair Access Process, the minimum entry requirements enable students who are within one or more of the categories below to be guaranteed an offer: Living in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20) Care Experienced, as identified on the UCAS Application form by ticking the relevant box.

Additional entry requirements


Due to the specialised nature of our British Sign Language programmes, applicants may also be invited to attend an online or in-person interview to further assess their suitability for the programme.

English language requirements

Applicants whose native language is not English and who have not been educated previously in the English language must provide evidence of their English language ability to ensure they can cope with the demands of a Heriot-Watt programme taught and assessed in English. Further information about the English Language tests that we currently accept as proof of English Language ability including our own English Language programmes, can be viewed on our website.

HWU English Language Requirements

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

England £9250* Year 1
Northern Ireland £9250* Year 1
Wales £9250* Year 1
Channel Islands £9250* Year 1
Republic of Ireland £9250* Year 1
Scotland £1820* Year 1
EU £17320* Year 1
International £17320* Year 1

*This is a provisional fee and subject to change.

Tuition fee status depends on a number of criteria and varies according to where in the UK you will study. For further guidance on the criteria for home or overseas tuition fees, please refer to the UKCISA website .

Additional fee information

2024/25 tuition fees are subject to confirmation.

Provider information

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Heriot-Watt University
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Friday 5th July - Monday 5th August: 10am - 4pm Tuesday 6th August: 8am - 6pm Wednesday 7th August: 9am -5pm Thursday 8th August: 9am - 5pm Friday 9th August: 9am - 5pm Monday 12th August: 9am - 5pm Tuesday 13th August: 9am - 5pm Wednesday 14th August: 9am - 5pm Thursday 15th August: 7am - 7pm Friday 16th August: 8am - 6pm Saturday 17th August: 10am - 4pm Sunday 18th August: 10am - 4pm Monday 19th August: 9am - 5pm

Course contact details

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British Sign Language and Applied Language Studies at Heriot-Watt University - UCAS