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Study programme

In the Bachelor's Sign Language Linguistics, you will explore sign languages, their structure, acquisition and use from the perspective of a linguist, while learning at least one sign language yourself. The programme is taught in English.

Programme structure

In this programme you are introduced to the basic concepts of linguistics and how these can be applied to sign language linguistics, while learning Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). You will examine the key research traditions of linguistics as a whole and sign language linguistics in particular. Alongside the core programme, you will specialise by selecting a minor in one of your fields of interest. You can also decide to study abroad for a semester or do an internship.

  • The first year

    The first year of the programme offers a broad, general overview of the entire discipline of Linguistics.

    • You will take theoretical courses in which you learn all of the basic concepts that are relevant to a linguist.
    • In the second block, you will follow an introduction to sign language linguistics, examining how linguistics concepts can be applied to the specific field.
    • You will be trained in the transcription and glossing of sign languages, and take courses in Morphology and Sociolinguistics.
    • You will study Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT), learning the language up to the level of an independent signer – approximately B1 of the European Frame of Reference.
    • You will develop specific academic skills, such as academic writing and conducting independent research, as well as how to transcribe sign language data, record signers, segment signs, words and sentences into their component parts.
    • At the end of the first year, you will conduct a small research project exploring the acquisition of a new language.
  • The second and third year

    The second and third years of the programme build on the foundations laid in the first year, allowing you to specialise in the various aspects of sign language linguistics, while conducting your own linguistic experiments.

    • You will study the phonology and morphology of sign languages, the semantics and pragmatics of language, the lexicon and syntax of sign languages, as well as varying linguistic theories.
    • You will explore psycholinguistics in the context of sign languages.
    • You will take courses such as Philosophy of Science and Second Language Acquisition.
    • In the third year of the programme, you can tailor your own curriculum by specialising in a minor related to linguistics, opting for a minor in a completely different field of study or choosing electives in a wide range of subjects.
    • You also have the opportunity to use your elective credits to study abroad or do an internship for a semester.
    • You will conclude the programme by writing a Bachelor’s thesis, your first major piece of independent research.
  • Internship

    You can enrich your study programme by doing an internship. This will allow you to gain experience at an organisation working in the field of linguistics and gives you an impression of the job opportunities they offer. 

    Students in sign language linguistics have previously found internships at:

    • Institutions that develop strategies and materials for the acquisition of sign languages;
    • The Dutch Sign Center (Nederlands Gebarencentrum); 
    • Hospitals with a clinical linguistics department.

    You can also opt to do a research-oriented internship with a teacher of the programme or another linguist at the UvA. This gives you an idea of what is like to be linguistics researcher.

  • Learning and assessment

    Sign Language Linguistics is a three-year Bachelor’s degree of 180 ECTS credits. An academic year accounts for 60 credits that are spread across two semesters, with each comprising two 8-week blocks and a 4-week block.

    As a Bachelor’s student, you are expected to spend an average of 42 hours a week on your studies.

    • In your first year, 12 to 15 of those hours will be spent attending lectures, while in your second and third years you will have approximately 8 to 10 hours of class.
    • The remaining time will be spent on self-study, preparing for lectures and seminars, completing coursework and assignments, as well as exams.
    • You will attend both lectures and small group seminars.
    • Lectures generally introduce the main topics of the course, discussing and explaining course readings and literature.
    • In the seminars, you will work closely with your fellow students, collaborating on assignments, presentations and talks.
    • You will be tested by means of written and oral exams, presentations, essays, reports and assignments.
    • Your final grade for a course is determined by the results you receive for each of these.
  • Honours programme

    Highly-motivated students may qualify to take part in a selective honours programme. This programme accounts for an additional 30 ECTS and will help familiarise you with various other aspects of academic research and prepare you for a subsequent Research Master's degree.

Detailed course information

Visit the UvA Course catalogue for a detailed overview of the Sign Language Linguistics courses.

Accreditation and academic title

The quality of this programme has been positively accredited by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This means that after successful completion of the programme you will receive a recognised Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and the title Bachelor of Arts (BA).