What is Deaf Studies?
The Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity affords students the opportunity to develop insights into, and genuine appreciation for the culture, contributions, and contemporary issues related to Deaf people in Ireland and worldwide. The undergraduate programme is the only one of its kind in Ireland. Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the indigenous language of the Deaf Community in Ireland and is the working language at the Centre for Deaf Studies. There are many different sign languages in the world in the same way as there are different spoken languages.
ISL is the third language of Ireland, recognised in the Irish Sign Language Act (2017). It is also one of the many sign languages recognised by European Institutions and is recognised along with British Sign Language in Northern Ireland. During this four-year course students develop fluency in ISL. As a student you may choose to specialise as an ISL/English Interpreter or an ISL teacher, or to focus on Deaf Studies. Students entering the Deaf Studies programme will explore a range of educational, social, cultural, linguistic, and psychological issues and their application to Deaf people, as individuals, as a community, and as a linguistic and cultural minority.
The multi-disciplinary approach to your studies is led by a strong academic team, many of whom are Deaf. The degree programme will provide in-depth training preparing you for a number of exciting career options working with Deaf as a disability officer, resource officer, research assistant or as an administrator in Deaf community organisations to give a few examples. With this foundation, graduates frequently go on to complete postgraduate study.
Deaf Studies: The course for you?
The is the course for you if:
- You are interested in studying Irish Sign Language (ISL), Deaf culture and aspects of the Deaf community
- You wish to acquire an understanding of the Deaf community as a part of human diversity
- You wish to spend your professional or social life after graduation in the Deaf community, or to make further contributions in a chosen academic discipline
Deaf Studies at Trinity
The Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity has an international reputation for its work: we bring approaches from across many disciplines (linguistics, equality studies, psychology, education, disability studies, gender studies, interpreting studies, social policy and digital humanities) to bear on our work with Deaf communities.
We engage closely with the Irish Deaf community and students will have the opportunity to learn from many of the world’s leading scholars in this discipline who collaborate with the Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) staff.
The pathways available are Single Honours and Major with Minor.
Graduate skills and career opportunities
Graduates frequently work in Deaf organisations, for example as a resource officer or combined with another skill set, such as teaching, ISL / English interpreting, child care, social work, public service bodies, the Civil Service or the media. There is also scope for further study or research in areas such as linguistics, communications, anthropology, multiculturalism, gender studies or law.
Your degree and what you’ll study
The programme in Deaf Studies draws on a core faculty with interests in ISL and Deaf Studies, as well as other faculty within the University and the School of Linguistics Speech and Communication Sciences, with expertise in bilingualism, biculturalism, reading, literacy, linguistics and applied linguistics, cognitive and language development, language teaching, special education, and counselling. 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. Core courses detailing the history, education, literature and language of the Deaf will be taught by both Deaf and hearing staff.
Students will start with an introduction to ISL as a language, and also learn the concepts of second language learning and language acquisition as it relates to their learning. The idea of the Deaf community as active participants in business and society will also be introduced.
Second and third years
In years two and three, themes such as ethics, 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 third and fourth year.
For students taking the ISL teaching route, guidance on planning and implementing a curriculum and assessing student performance are introduced. Students in the third and fourth year complete a Capstone research project, as well as studying more advanced theoretical subjects and entering two separate supervised placements in organisations that provide services to/for the Deaf community.
Across the four years of the degree you will develop a high level of competency in ISL skills. Language teaching is mapped to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR, Council of Europe), so you will be able to map your progress against your knowledge of other languages. Competence in ISL is fundamental to gaining an in-depth understanding of the Deaf community and is a requirement of the programme.
The course employs a wide range of teaching, learning and assessment strategies. Both continuous assessment and end of semester exams are undertaken across the four years. The range and diversity of assessment formats account for varying student learning styles.
There are QQI/FET routes available for this course. Please see www.cao.ie for details.
Click here for further information on modules/subject.
Study abroad and internship opportunities
Students undertake practical placements in their fourth year and whilst students are usually placed in an Irish organisation, it is possible to arrange a placement abroad. Students can also consider completing an Erasmus exchange visit for this semester. For more information on study abroad destinations and requirements visit: www.tcd.ie/study/study-abroad
Study Deaf Studies at Trinity
This is a presentation by Dr. John Conoma giving an outline of the Deaf Studies course at Trinity College Dublin.
AwardsB.St.Su. Honours Bachelor Degree (NFQ Level 8)
CAO InformationCAO Points 352 (2023) CAO Code TR016
Number of Places20 Places
This is a restricted entry course; applications must be submitted to CAO by 1st February. An alternative test to replace the H4 English requirement will be available to applicants whose first language is ISL. Applicants will be contacted in March and applicants who is deaf/hard of hearing will be asked to submit evidence of this and will be invited to sit the ISL test.
O4/H6 in a language other than English
Advanced GCE (A Level):
Grade C English Literature (A or B) or English Language (A or B)
Grade C in a language other than English
HL Grade 5 English
SL Grade 5 in a language other than English
Students will be required to undergo Garda Vetting, see https://www.tcd.ie/students/orientation/undergraduates/garda-vetting.php for further details.
Click here for a full list of undergraduate fees.
To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below
Advanced Entry Applications
Read the information about how to apply for Advanced Entry, then select the link below to apply.
Going back to college as a mature student has been a wonderful experience. I chose Deaf Studies, because I wanted to change career and become an ISL/English Interpreter, which is one of three strands within this degree programme. I never anticipated how much knowledge I would gain in terms of linguistics, language acquisition, Deaf culture and the Deaf community, and how much I would actually enjoy it – the four years just flew by. Small class sizes meant I felt right at home and lifelong friendships were formed. Passing the optional foundation scholarship exams was just the icing on the cake!
An interest in Irish Sign Language brought me to this course. Going into my fourth year I’m learning Sign Language, and a whole lot more as well. I have found every module fascinating, and I am unexpectedly delighted to be engaging with such topics as linguistics, sociolinguistics, ethics, language acquisition, history of language, media and education to name but a few. How all these topics link with Deaf culture and the Deaf Community in Ireland has made me aware of the challenges and struggles Deaf people can face when engaging with, and living amongst, a predominantly hearing community. I had never really thought about any of this before. Learning a visual language is an ongoing challenge to me, as my life has been dominated by the spoken word. But the joy of learning Irish Sign Language far outweighs the challenges.