New Zealand Sign Language - English Interpreting Major - Bachelor of Arts

Professional sign language interpreters are in high demand. Sign language interpreters are essential to ensure the Deaf community has access to New Zealand legal, educational and health systems. This major prepares you for a career as a sign language interpreter.

You become familiar with the Deaf community and culture, and helping you achieve proficiency in New Zealand Sign Language. In the second and third year you’re introduced to the interpreting profession, including the history of interpreting locally and internationally. You develop interpreting skills for a wide range of settings, and explore the ethical issues of sign language interpreting.

Scholarships from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Economic Development are available for NZSL interpreting students:

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This programme brochure will be available soon.

Minimum entry requirements

International student entry requirements

Useful New Zealand school subjects

All subjects are useful, in particular Art History, Classical Studies, English, Geography, History, Media Studies and other languages.

English language requirements

  • IELTS (Academic) 7.0 overall with 7.0 in Writing and Speaking, and 6.5 in Reading and Listening; or equivalent.

English language requirements

Don’t meet the entry requirements?

Consider starting with:

Our dynamic classroom environment encourages student participation at each stage of the learning journey. Our strong relationships with the Deaf community and interpreting professionals mean that you have access to up-to-date information and a range of guest speakers.

Develop advanced NZSL and interpreting skills to prepare you for a career as a professional interpreter. Courses also focus on ethical decision making, the translation and interpreting processes, and business-related skills like networking and professional conduct.

Core courses

All students in the Bachelor of Arts complete core courses that cover effective communication, critical thinking and other transferable skills you'll need for your future career.

COMM570 Academic Communication
CLSY500 Culture and Society
CLSY504 Knowledge and Inquiry
NZSL707 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience I – Observations
NZSL708 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience II – Professional Practice 

New Zealand Sign language - English Interpreting courses

Year 1 courses

NZSL510 New Zealand Sign Language 1
NZSL520 New Zealand Sign Language 2
NZSL600 New Zealand Sign Language Discourse
NZSL502 Deaf Community and Culture I 
NZSL602 Deaf Community and Culture II

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

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

Year 2 courses

TRIN603 Interpreter Role, Ethics and Practice
TRIN604 Societal Contexts for Interpreters and Translators
NZSL610 New Zealand Sign Language 3
NZSL620 New Zealand Sign Language 4
NZSL710 New Zealand Sign Language 5
NZSL702 Current Issues in the Deaf World 
NZSL703 Comparative Analysis of English and NZSL 
NZSL704 NZSL Interpreting 1 — Dialogic Interactions

Year 3 courses

NZSL705 NZSL Interpreting 2 — Monologic Interactions
NZSL706 NZSL Interpreting 3 — Advanced Interpreting Techniques 
TRIN708 Advanced Legal Interpreting and/or TRIN705 Advanced Health Interpreting
TRIN702 Advanced Interpretation Legal Studies and/or TRIN704 Advanced Interpretation Health Studies
NZSL707 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience I — Observations
NZSL708 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience II — Professional Practice 

Recommended elective course

Workplace experience

Workplace experience is a key part of your final year. In the first semester you’ll be in the community, observing and learning from professional interpreters in a wide range of settings. In the second semester, you’ll be interpreting alongside professional interpreters, your lecturers, and classmates.

Recent placements included:

  • Auckland Zoo
  • Auckland Art Gallery
  • Workplace meetings
  • University lectures
  • Parent-baby groups
  • Community workshops

To participate in AUT's New Zealand Sign Language - English Interpreting degree you need to be able to:

  • Adequately hear and process spoken language in a wide range of settings, including when there is significant background noise and people talking over one another
  • See clearly including in low light and across distances
  • Speak and write English with a high level of proficiency, including an extensive vocabulary and the ability to adapt language to different levels of formality
  • Speak in a clear voice
  • Use hands, arms, fingers in a skilled and coordinated way (manual dexterity)

NZSL fluency is not required to begin this programme.

Beginner level applicants can use this free online tool to learn some basics.

Learn NZSL website

Interpreting settings in the Deaf community including:

  • Medical centres and district health boards
  • Legal profession
  • Compulsory education
  • University
  • Public events
  • Employment
  • Theatre
  • Counselling
  • Education
  • Mental health

Find out more about industry trends, job descriptions and what employers may be looking for.

NZ Sign Language & Interpreting Careers

Quick facts
Programme code:
3 years full-time / part-time available
City Campus
26 Feb 2024
$7,669 - $8,479 (for 120 points)
($6,595 - $7,405 tuition fees + $1074 student services levy)
$31,774 (for 120 points)
($30,700 tuition fees + $1074 student services levy)
  • Fees shown are based on a full-time workload for the points indicated next to the fee. The exact fee charged will depend on which courses you select at the time of enrolment.
  • Fees are subject to change year to year. If you are planning for study beyond the current year, fees may vary from those stated.
  • There may also be other fees and charges you need to pay.
  • International students' tuition fees reflect the full cost of tuition. Domestic students' tuition fees are less due to a proportion of the tuition fees being funded by the New Zealand Government.
  • Fees-free study may be available for domestic students

Scholarships at AUT

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

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