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Bachelor in Deaf Studies

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Course overview

The Bachelor in Deaf Studies (B.St.Su.)  is a four-year full-time course leading to an honours degree. The course provides a comprehensive introduction to the Deaf community and Irish Sign Language (ISL) for those wishing to work with sign language users. No prior knowledge of ISL is required for entry.  The degree also draws on a multidisciplinary approach to introduce a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills and competencies related to Deaf communities, Deaf history and culture. In the sophister years (years 3 and 4), profession-specific competencies are in focus for those who select pathways to ISL teaching or ISL/English interpreting .

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What is Deaf Studies?

Deaf Studies is a discipline that encompasses an understanding of the Deaf community from a social, educational, policy and historical perspective.

B.St.Su. Graduates will develop fluency in Irish Sign Language (ISL) to B2 level proficiency (Common European Framework of Reference) and may choose to specialise as Irish Sign Language Interpreters, Irish Sign Language teachers or focus on the multidisciplinary academic discipline of Deaf Studies. Students will also develop valuable research skills as part of this course. Those specialising in Deaf Studies will develop critically informed analyses of the key issues impacting on Deaf communities in contemporary society. This paves the way for postgraduate studies or work with Deaf communities. For example, graduates have gone on to complete masters degrees in a range of areas including Equality Studies, Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Intercultural Studies, Ethics, Education, Clinical Speech and Language Studies, Deaf Studies, and Community Studies. Some of our graduates work in organisations like Deaf Village Ireland, the Deaf Education Centre, and the Catholic Chaplaincy for the Deaf.

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What is Sign Language Interpreting?

Sign Language interpreters facilitate communication in a range of community-based, public-service (legal, medical, social services, educational environments, TV settings, etc.), conference settings and employment related domains. Graduates typically work on a freelance basis via interpreting agencies/ referral centres. They work between Irish Sign Language and English, or between another sign language (e.g. British Sign Language, American Sign Language, International Sign) and Irish Sign Language or English. At CDS, we focus on preparing interpreters to develop the skill-set to work competently between Irish Sign Language and English, as outlined by the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (2013). (Note: we also welcome Deaf candidates to consider this route – all English language content is available in subtitled format and one of our lecturers is a Deaf Interpreter). Graduates have gone on to complete masters degrees in a range of areas including Equality Studies, Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Intercultural Studies, Ethics, Education, Clinical Speech and Language Studies, Deaf Studies, and Community Studies. Most of our graduate ISL/English interpreters are working on a freelance basis and you can see some of our graduates interpreting TV programmes to ISL.

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What is Sign Language Teaching?

Sign Language teachers deliver language learning in a range of contexts, working with deaf children and their families at home, with Transition Year students in secondary schools, and with adults who are learning ISL as a second language. Sign language teachers are also engaged in assessing student competency. Typically, they work with the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the European Centre for Modern Language (ECML) documented descriptors for sign languages see:

Graduates have gone on to complete masters degrees in a range of areas including Equality Studies, Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Intercultural Studies, Ethics, Education, Clinical Speech and Language Studies, Deaf Studies, and Community Studies. Most of our graduate ISL teachers work on a freelance basis.

There is currently a significant shortage of professional ISL/English interpreters and ISL teachers in Ireland.

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Admission to the Bachelor in Deaf Studies

Please note the following:

  • Applications to this course are via the CAO system as described in the college's admissions webpages.
  • Mature students (aged 23 or over in year of entry) must apply through the CAO AND the Admissions Office at TCD. See admissions for further details.
  • We strongly encourage applications from Deaf and hard of hearing students. Applications for Deaf and hard of hearing students are also via CAO (and Admissions Office for mature students). See admissions for further details.
  • Applications for all students MUST be completed by 1st February in year of entry. See

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Foundation Scholarship

Bachelor in Deaf Studies Foundation Scholarship

Foundation Scholarship is a College institution with a long history and high prestige. Some of our greatest alumni – such as Edmund Burke, Samuel Beckett, and Mary Robinson - were Scholars.  It is a distinctive feature of student life here at Trinity and now is the opportunity for Senior Freshman students to join the ranks of Trinity Scholars.

The objective of the Foundation Scholarship examination is to identify students who, at a level of evaluation appropriate to the Senior Freshman year, can consistently demonstrate exceptional knowledge and understanding of their subjects. The searching examination requires candidates to demonstrate skill in synthesising and integrating knowledge across the full range of the set examination materials; to demonstrate rigorous and informed critical thought; and, in appropriate disciplines, to demonstrate a highly-developed ability to solve problems and apply knowledge.

This academic year the Foundation Scholarship Examinations will be scheduled to begin on Monday 8 January 2018 [provisional date] (although it may be necessary to schedule some examinations in the preceding week).  Applications to sit this examination must be submitted online to the Examinations and Assessment Team in the Academic Registry using the following link: 2018 Foundation Scholarship Application Form.  This link will only be available from 9.00am on Monday 6 November 2017 [provisional date] until 5.00pm on Monday 10 November 2017 [provisional date]. No applications will be accepted after this date/time.  Applicants must be fully registered for their course of study in the current academic year by the application closing date. 

Scholarship is awarded solely on the basis of this examination performance– and no other factors are taken into account.  A Scholarship at Trinity College remains the most prestigious undergraduate award in the country, an award that has undoubtedly helped to foster long-lasting links between many outstanding graduates and the College. A principal aim of the College is the pursuit of excellence: one of the most tangible demonstrations of this is the institution of Scholarship.

Successful candidates - those achieving an overall first class result with a majority of their papers at a first-class level (i.e. 2 out of 3 papers) - are elected by the Board on Trinity Monday. Two additional regulations are being introduced this year. Firstly, to be eligible for Scholarship a candidate cannot achieve a mark below 65% in any paper. Secondly, all courses will examine students on material that goes beyond the set curriculum by setting discipline-specific general paper/s and/or general section/s on papers as part of their examination. Please consult your course handbook and the College Calendar for further details.

Scholars enjoy significant benefits including Commons free of charge, rooms free of charge for up to nine months of the year and, where a student is not in receipt of outside scholarships or grants, fee remission for up to five years to the value of the EU fee level.

The Scholarship Examination can only be taken by students in their Senior Freshman year, except in exceptional circumstances when students may defer it to the following year.  In the event that a serious problem arises in the lead-up to the exam please contact your tutor who will make the appropriate application.

For more details on the Foundation Scholarship and to access past papers, visit the Academic Registry website at


For further information please contact Ms Carmel Grehan, Coordinator of the Bachelor in Deaf Studies:

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