The course

UCAS code
Up to 4 years
Delivery type



In this course British Sign Language (BSL) is studied to professional level. Students are trained to work as BSL/English Interpreters and Translators and to use BSL proficiently in related professional areas.

The course focuses on practical and applied language skills, interpreting and translating skills, communication studies, linguistics, translation and interpreting studies and Deaf studies. Uniquely in this course during year 3, students are placed full time with signing organisations in the UK or at one of our International partner universities. (Please note that BSL placements are self-financed and students may be required to undertake placements anywhere in the UK.)

In year four students have the additional opportunity to work closely with professional interpreters in real-life situations on placement, gaining vital work-place experience.

Graduates successfully completing all specified components of the course are able to register as full Members of the Register of Sign Language Interpreters with NRCPD, the national registration body in the UK for sign language interpreting, and with SASLI, the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters. (NB to be eligible for full registration with SASLI, students must achieve a minimum of grade D for all Level 4 courses.)

Entry to the course is open to applicants with or without previous BSL experience.

Course content

Detailed course guide

Year 1

Students take two intensive, practically-oriented courses in British Sign Language, one course in Introduction to Deaf History and Culture, one course in Introduction to Languages and Intercultural Studies, and two Elective courses.

Year 2

Students again take two intensive, practically-oriented courses in BSL Advanced (which includes language tuition and an introduction to translation and interpreting skills), and one course each in Deaf People in Society and Comparative Studies, General Linguistics, Sign Linguistics and Working with Deaf Communities.

Year 3

This year 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.

As an alternative, in each semester students can opt for a study-abroad placement, to study sign language interpreting or a related subject at one of our partner universities.

Year 4

The honours year includes two courses each in BSL Proficiency, Advanced Interpreting Skills, and Translation & Interpreting Studies and the International Context, one course in Interpreting in the Community and a final placement course, in which students work closely with professional interpreters.

Unistats course data


Work and study

This is what our MA (Hons) British Sign Language (Interpreting, Translating and Applied Language Studies) students are doing six months after graduating:

  • 80% are working
  • 10% are studying
  • 0% are working and studying.

Managerial/professional position

  • 70% of those working are in a professional/managerial position six months after graduating.


  • The average salary of students six months after graduating: £20000
  • The average UK salary of students six months after graduating from a similar course: £18000


These are the most common jobs students go into six months after graduating:

  • Business and public service associate professionals
  • Artistic, literary and media occupations
  • Business, research and administrative professionals
  • Administrative occupations
  • Teaching and educational professionals
  • Sales occupations
  • Elementary occupations
  • Secretarial and related occupations

Entry requirements

Year 1

  • Highers AAAB including A in language(s) (over two sittings)
  • A-Levels BBB including B in language(s)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 30 points with at least 5 HL in the language(s) to be studied
  • HNC/HND Students who can demonstrate the required language skills will be considered

Additional information

  • Entry routes As our Languages courses include a compulsory year abroad at Level 3, the normal entry route for all Languages courses is to Level 1 of a four-year Honours course. However, candidates with outstanding Advanced Highers or A-Level results may be considered on an individual basis.
  • Intermediate 2 / National 5 / GCSE English is required for all Languages courses.
  • English language requirements Students who are non-native speakers of English will need to achieve either the IELTS test with 7.5 or the CPE with B. The second language may be studied from beginner’s level or from a post-Standard Grade/GCSE level.
  • BTEC Relevant BTEC qualifications are accepted; please contact Admissions Tutor for further details


Tuition fees for 2019 entry (by residency status)
Status* Scotland / EU** England / Northern Ireland / Wales*** International
Fee Paid by SAAS £9,250 £14,640

* Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.

** European Union countries (not including England, Northern Ireland or Wales).

*** 'Rest of the UK' (RUK) students entering at Level 1 receive a fee waiver of one year's tuition fee. Normally this will be the final year, or a year during which students study abroad (either at a partnership institution, or at one of Heriot-Watt's overseas campuses).

Scholarships and bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales starting undergraduate degree courses in 2018

In addition to government maintenance loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales:

View our full range of undergraduate scholarships.