Bachelor of Arts - New Zealand Sign Language & Deaf Studies

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is recognised as an official, native language of New Zealand. NZSL – English interpreting is a growing profession in New Zealand, and AUT is the only university where you can qualify to become an interpreter.
People who understand and can work constructively with the Deaf community are in high demand. AUT is the only university in New Zealand where you can complete a Bachelor of Arts with a New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) and Deaf Studies major.

Our team of lecturers includes some of the most highly regarded people in their field. AUT’s close relationship with the Deaf community offers students the opportunity to learn through immersion in the culture.

  • Learn advanced NZSL skills that provide communication access to the Deaf community.
  • This degree is ideal for people who want to work in the area of community based services or Deaf education.
  • Become involved in the NZ Deaf community and culture.
  • Choose to further language acquisition, learn about the interpreting profession, or learn about intercultural competence.
  • The programme was developed with input from Deaf Aotearoa, Sign Language Interpreters Association of New Zealand (SLIANZ) and other industry organisations.

Entry requirements

Structure and content

The first year focuses on the development of receptive and expressive fluency in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), and the study of the Deaf community and culture.

In the second and third years students can either continue with further language acquisition, learn about the interpreting profession, or choose papers related to intercultural competence.

Along with practicum experience opportunities, qualified NZSL – English interpreting practitioners attend panel discussions, take on guest lecturer roles and provide tutoring and support for students.


Throughout the three years of the BA, students take core papers that provide the necessary skills in writing, research and IT capability to prepare them for academic work and their working life. For a summary of the BA degree see the Bachelor of Arts overview

Year 1 (compulsory) papers:
165901 New Zealand Sign Language 1
166901 New Zealand Sign Language 2
165903 Deaf community and culture 1
166903 Deaf community and culture 2

Core papers:
165108 iWrite or 165600 Undergraduate Writing for Academic Purposes
285104 Research and Analysis: Year 2 and 3
915002 Ki te Whaiao: Introduction to Maori Society
166109 iReflect: Year 2 and 3
166110 iCommunicate
167100 iResearch: Year 2 and 3
916307 Aotearoa New Zealand Culture and Society 

Year 2 and 3 papers:
165105 Introduction to Language Study
165521 Introduction to Intercultural Competence
166552 Intercultural Competence in a Global World
166902 New Zealand Sign Language 3
166904 Introduction to the Interpreting Profession
166905 Ethical Decision-Making
167901 New Zealand Sign Language 4
167902 Current Issues in the Deaf World
167903 BA Special Topic [Deaf Studies]
167904 Comparative Analysis of English and NZSL
287003 Multicultural Communities

Additional Papers

165415 New Zealand Sign Language and Deaf Culture 1A
165416 New Zealand Sign Language and Deaf Culture 1B

Career opportunities

  • Professionals working directly with Deaf clients and colleagues.
  • Professionals requiring Deaf cultural knowledge, eg. teachers, health educators, mental health experts, counsellors.

Industry connections

Professional accreditation – industry organisations that recognise this programme:

  • Sign Language Interpreting Association of New Zealand
  • New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters
  • Interpreter booking agencies NZ-wide
  • Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Kelston Deaf Education Centre
  • Van Asch Deaf Education Centre
  • Tertiary Education Institutions NZ-wide
Organisations where students have completed work experience:
  • Tertiary education institutions NZ-wide
  • Interpreter booking agencies NZ-wide

Last updated: 03-Jul-2015 2.58pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.