Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Menu Search


Deaf Studies

B.St.Su.; 4 years full-time; 20 places; 400

What is Deaf studies?

Deaf studies explores the position of the Deaf community from social, educational, policy and historical perspectives. Graduates will develop fluency in Irish Sign Language (ISL) and may choose to specialise as ISL/English interpreters, ISL teachers or as generalists in Deaf Studies. Interpreters facilitate communication in a range of community and conference settings including legal, medical, educational, social services, and employment related settings. ISL teachers deliver language learning in a range of contexts, working with deaf children and their families at home, and with adults who are learning ISL as a second language.

Is this the right course for you?

Through Deaf Studies, you will come into contact with people of all ages and will be required to work in a range of settings, which may include community clinics, hospitals, legal contexts and a wide range of community and educational settings. You will be working between deaf and hearing communities and bridging communication and cultural gaps. In many instances, you will also find yourself dealing with families of deaf and hard-of-hearing people. It is important, therefore, that you are adaptable and people-oriented. You will also need to be capable of working independently and as part of a team. You should have an interest in learning about language, culture and society and be open to using technology in your learning.

Why study Deaf Studies at Trinity?

Trinity is the only university on the island of Ireland offering a Deaf Studies programme. There is currently a significant shortage of professional ISL/English interpreters and ISL teachers in Ireland. Those specialising in Deaf Studies develop valuable research skills as part of this course. Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the second indigenous language of Ireland and is the working language at the Centre for Deaf Studies. ISL is one of the many signed languages recognised by the European Institutions and has been recognised in Northern Ireland.

What will you study?

This course gives an in-depth understanding of the Irish deaf community and of the experience of deaf people internationally, historically and in contemporary society. ISL is studied across the programme, while in years two and three, optional themes such as deaf education, the representation of deaf people in the media, the legal and political standing of signed languages and access to critical public health services are explored, along with understanding of the structure of ISL, the sociolinguistic context and the path to acquisition of a signed language for deaf children. For ISL/English interpreting students, translation theory and the practical skills of interpreting, guided by ethical practice, are emphasised in years three and four. For students taking the ISL teaching route, aspects of the psychology of education are introduced along with guidance on planning and implementing a curriculum and assessing student performance. For all students in the third and fourth years, there is a research project, which culminates in a dissertation.


Across the four years of the degree you will develop a high level of competency in ISL skills. Our language teaching is mapped to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe), so you will be able to map your progress against your knowledge of other languages. Students have six to nine hours of ISL class contact per week.


Theoretical courses introduce you to aspects of language acquisition, linguistics, sociolinguistics, social policy, and social studies. Each theoretical course involves two hours of lecture time per week plus an expectation of self-study. Theoretical courses include:

  • An Introduction to Sign Linguistics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Perspectives on Deafness
  • Interactional Discourse Analysis
  • Language Acquisition and Deafness
  • Aspects of Written Language
  • Deaf Education
  • Working with the Deaf Community
  • Deaf People and the Media
  • Ethics
  • Translation and Interpreting: Philosophy and Practice
  • Methods of Assessment
  • Curriculum Planning
  • Teaching Methods
  • Theories of Education
  • Research Methods

Students can also select one course from the Broad Curriculum in both years one and two (see In year 3, students may consider spending a term abroad as a visiting student.


Practical components are introduced in third year and will include block placements with organisations. These will include a twelve-week block placement in third year. While you will usually attend placement in an Irish organisation, it is possible, by special arrangement, to arrange a placement abroad. In previous years, students have undertaken placements with a wide range of organisations including the Irish Deaf Society, DeafHear, Kerry Deaf Resource Centre, Deaf Community Centre (Limerick), Cork Association for the Deaf, Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS), Bridge Interpreting, the National Chaplaincy for Deaf People and Remark (London). Award of the degree is based on continuous assessment, a practice placement, and final examinations. A student whose placement performance is considered unsatisfactory may be allowed further placement experience.


Graduates frequently work in deaf organisations (e.g. as a resource officer) or combined with another skill set, such as teaching, child care, social work, media, etc., work as an ISL teacher, or as an ISL interpreter. There is also scope for continuing to further study in areas such as linguistics, communications, anthropology, multiculturalism, gender studies, law, etc. Graduates have also gone on to work in the Civil Service and other public service bodies.

Further information

Tel: + 353 830 1560


Centre for Deaf Studies, School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin.

Graduate Profile

Annik Dennehy

Studying Deaf Studies was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I wasn’t sure I would get through, but with the dedicated support of the lecturers and fellow students I came away really happy with what I had achieved. I am currently working full time as an interpreter in Cork. I work in a variety of settings where I am gaining valuable experience and work alongside fellow interpreters who previously qualified through the CDS (Centre for Deaf Studies). I plan to return to do a postgraduate MSc in Developmental Linguistics.

Course Options




4 years full-time

Points Required


Number of Places


CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is


Minimum entry points required are 400
More information on minimum entry points

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here

Leaving CertificateHC3 EnglishOD3/HD3 In language other than English
Advanced GCE (A-Level)Grade C English literature (A or B) or English language (A or B)
GCSEGrade C in a language other than English
Entry to Year 3 of Bachelor in Deaf studies:Graduates of the Centre’s Diplomas in Deaf studies, Irish Sign Language (ISL) teaching and ISL/English interpreting may apply for entry to year 3 of the Bachelor in Deaf studies if they hold a II.2 or above.
Garda Vetting:Students will be required to undergo Garda vetting. See 


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO.

Mature Student – Supplementary Application Form

Read the information about how to apply as a mature student then select the link below to complete the TCD Supplementary Application Form for mature students.

Deaf Studies, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 01/FEB/2016

Non-EU Applicants

  • Deaf Studies, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 30/JUN/2016
  • CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is