British Sign Language (Interpreting, Translating and Applied Language Studies)

  • UCAS code Q196
  • Duration Up to 4 years
  • Delivery type Full Time
  • Study location Edinburgh
  • Number of places 20


The Course

This is a new programme – the first of its kind in Scotland and, in key aspects, unique in the UK – in which 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 programme focuses on practical and applied language skills, interpreting and translating skills, communication studies, linguistics, translation and interpreting studies and Deaf studies. Uniquely in this programme during year 3 students can either undertake full-time, compulsory placements working in the UK signing community with organisations in the field (self-financed), or study abroad at one of our partner universities. 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 programme will be able to register as full Members of the Register of Sign Language Interpreters with NRCPD, the United Kingdom's registration body for sign language interpreting; and also with Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters, SASLI, (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 programme is open to applicants with or without previous BSL experience. 


Career Prospects

The programme equips students to work as BSL/English interpreters and translators, addressing a severe shortage of sign language interpreters in the United Kingdom.

BSL/English Interpreters have the opportunity to work in a wide variety of situations including health, media, TV, legal, education, employment, conference and social work settings.

The programme is deeply rooted in the department’s long established language provision which produces highly skilled and employable graduates much in demand nationally and internationally

Programme content

Level 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.

Level 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.


Level 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.

Level 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.

Your career

Graduate profiles

Emerald Dickson

  • Degree MA (Hons) LINT (French/German)
  • Year 2004
  • Present job Translator, Brussels
Emerald Dickson

"After graduating from Heriot-Watt, I was recruited by a company in Brussels to translate from French,
German and Spanish (and later Dutch) into English. I was expecting it to be a lot harder to find a job
straight after university but the LINT programme is a very professionally-oriented course which really prepares you for the world of work. In addition to the translation skills which were vital for a job as a translator, the LINT programme also gave me a sound general knowledge and helped me to hone other important skills such as synthesis and public speaking.

"After two years working as a translator I was approached to head the German department of a trademark case law company in Brussels which collects and analyses all the trademark rulings handed down since 2000 in the European Union. This job involves contacting and negotiating with courts in Germany and selling to German law firms and trademark offices. I still do some translation work, but this job is much more varied since in addition, I get to use my languages actively; I speak French, Dutch and English with my colleagues and German with my German contacts and undertake some interpreting.

"The LINT programme was hard work but well worth it. There aren't many language courses that give you as much practical experience and the LINT programme has an excellent reputation, even outside the UK, because of the high standards expected from its students."

Kirsty Hutton

  • Degree International Management and Languages

"I studied French and Spanish on the degree as I had enjoyed both subjects very much at school and wanted to continue studying them together with management, which I felt might open up more doors to me in the future.

"After graduating, I spent a few months working in Barcelona and on returning to the UK I secured a job with Standard Life. I work in the Group Financial Reporting team supporting the management of various projects run in the department, namely those relating to quarterly reporting and the production of the company's annual report. I am also responsible for reporting the team's compliance to Group policy, as well as other governance activities such as the verification of the financial statements released to the market.

" I enjoy my job, have plenty of responsibility, a sense of contributing effectively to my team, and opportunities for promotion within the company are good.

"The IML degree gave me a great grounding in business and management which has been very useful. Studying languages during my degree gave me a focus on communication, good writing and speaking skills, etc and has certainly helped me to speak and act more confidently and to be more proactive in a work environment".

Entry requirements

The University offers as its normal entry routes:

  • entry at Level 1, mainly for students with Scottish Highers (or similar)
  • entry at Level 2, mainly for students with A-levels (or similar).

There is nevertheless considerable flexibility, depending on the level of qualifications, for entrants with A-levels to opt to enter at Level 1 and for Scottish students to enter at Level 2. Direct entry into Level 3 is also possible for students who already have certain HE qualifications.

As our Languages programmes include a compulsory year abroad at Level 3, the normal entry route for all Languages programmes is to Level 1 of a four-year Honours programme. However, candidates with outstanding Advanced Highers or A-Level results may be considered on an individual basis.

Level 1 entry

  • Highers AAAB
  • A-Levels BBB
  • Irish Leaving Cert (Higher) AABB
  • HNC Students who can demonstrate the required skills will be considered.
  • HND Students who can demonstrate the required skills will be considered.
  • Int. Baccalaureate 30 points
  • Additional information We welcome students with 'different' but comparable qualifications or other relevant equivalent experience and will examine these cases individually. Entry is open to applicants with or without previous BSL experience. Students who are non-native speakers of English will need to achieve either the IELTS test with 7.5 or the Cambridge Proficiency exam with B.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for 2016 entry (by residency status)
Status*Scotland / EU**England / Northern Ireland / WalesInternational
FeePaid by SAAS£9,000£13,500

* Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the 3 years before the start of your programme. Find out more about tuition fees.

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

Scholarships & bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales starting undergraduate degree programmes in 2016

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.