Bachelor of Arts - New Zealand Sign Language - English Interpreting

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.
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.

The status of NZSL as an official native language of New Zealand is held in high regard overseas and more research is needed in the areas of NZSL and interpreting to raise awareness of the issues and develop solutions.

  • AUT is the only place in New Zealand where you can train to become a qualified NZSL English Interpreter
  • Our team of lecturers includes some of the most highly regarded people in their field
  • AUT's close relationship with industry practitioners offers students the opportunity to work alongside and learn from experienced future colleagues
  • The BA Major in NZSL English Interpreting (AK3006) is a comprehensive course designed to prepare professional interpreters to work between Deaf and hearing consumers
  • This programme was developed with input from Deaf Aotearoa, Sign Language Interpreters Association of New Zealand (SLIANZ) and other industry organisations.
  • Discover the exciting careers available to you: A Future in Sign Language and Interpreting pdf icon

Structure and content

Our dynamic classroom environment encourages student participation at each stage of the learning journey. Relationships with the Deaf community, interpreting fraternity and local booking agencies mean students have access to up to date information delivered in a variety of modes.

These include guest speakers, work experience, use of online learning packages and technology that allows staff to interact with students directly to provide valuable feedback.

You will learn:

  • Advanced NZSL skills that provide communication access to the Deaf community
  • A range of interpreting skills and knowledge that will allow new graduates to enter the workforce and undertake assignments as a professional interpreter
  • Ethical decision making skills to aid future professionals in all aspects of interpreting practice.
  • Linguistic knowledge of your working languages which allows interpreters to better understand the translation and interpreting processes.
  • Business-related skills like invoicing, taxation obligations and professional conduct


All papers are taught in NZSL and/or English.

Core papers

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

For a complete list of the core papers see Bachelor of Arts overview page.

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

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.

You need to successfully complete Year 1 papers with at least a B grade average in the language papers to progress to Year 2. If you don't achieve at least a B grade average in the Year 1 language papers, you need to continue with an alternative major.

Year 2 papers:

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
167904 Comparative Analysis of English and NZSL
167905 NZSL Interpreting 1 — Dialogic Interactions

In the second and third years, you are introduced to the interpreting profession, including the history of interpreting internationally and in New Zealand. Specific interpreting skills are taught sequentially. You also learn comparative linguistics of your two working languages, and how to make ethical decisions.

Year 3 papers:

167906 NZSL Interpreting 2 – Monologic Interactions
167907 NZSL Interpreting 3 – Advanced Interpreting Techniques
167771 Advanced Interpretation Legal Interpreting OR 167781 Advanced Interpretation Health Studies
167770 Advanced Interpretation Legal Studies OR 167780 Advanced Interpretation Health Studies
167908 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience I – Observations
167909 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience II – Professional Practice

Minors and electives

For a complete list of the potential electives, see Minors in the Bachelor of Arts

Career opportunities

Opportunities exist in various interpreting settings in the Deaf community, including:

  • Counselling
  • Education
  • Events
  • Legal profession
  • Medical centres and district health boards
  • Mental health


The Ministry of Economic Development have funded scholarships to support students who want to become qualified NZSL interpreters, and to contribute to building a qualified national NZSL interpreter workforce to staff a potential future Video Relay Service.

Last updated: 03-Jul-2015 2.59pm

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