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Study information

British Sign Language for Beginners (Part 1)

Module titleBritish Sign Language for Beginners (Part 1)
Module codeFLB1115A
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Mrs Beth Bartholomew ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module is intended for students who have little or no previous knowledge of British Sign Language and offers an introduction to BSL and Deaf Awareness. It will equip you with an elementary understanding of signs so as to engage in basic communicative situations. You will find this module particularly relevant if you are pursuing a career in teaching or health, or are in contact with deaf people on a personal/professional level. In order to take this module you will be expected to be fluent in English, and to have the ability to use your hands and mimics.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module is broadly equivalent to A1 Basic User level of the Common European Framework and aims to:

  • Provide you with a solid foundation of the basic grammatical structures of British Sign Language, enabling you to communicate effectively through Productive Skills, Receptive Skills, and Conversational Skills at an elementary level on a variety of basic day-to-day topics.
  • Enable you to give and understand basic information and to work towards a confident elementary level of communicative competence in everyday situations.
  • Provide an introduction to Deaf Awareness.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an elementary understanding of the basic grammatical structures of BSL
  • 2. Comprehend the language through receptive skills and be able to back-channel in conversations to demonstrate understanding of information related to a basic range of everyday situations
  • 3. Communicate competently on a number of day-to-day topics through signed presentations and conversations

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Understand the principles of learning a new language and organise learning with guidance from the tutor
  • 5. Use available learning aids in a variety of media, including English texts on BSL, BSL dictionaries and video resources, to consolidate learning

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Communicate at a basic level in BSL
  • 7. Show evidence of self-study and research skills used to develop language skills
  • 8. Demonstrate a basic level of Deaf Awareness in communication

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, the course will cover the following grammar and topics across the communication skills of reception, production and conversation:


  • Fingerspelling
  • Signing space
  • Signing structure
  • Handshapes
  • Non-Manual Features (NMF)
  • Movement & Direction
  • Timelines (Past, Present & Future)
  • Numbers
  • Enumeration
  • Pronouns


  • Introduction to BSL as a visual language
  • Introduction to Deaf Awareness
  • Greetings and Leave Takings
  • Family and Describing People
  • Describing the Home
  • Weather
  • Travel and Transport
  • Directions

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching33Language classes
Guided independent study117Consolidate learning in class by preparing exercises and activities for class, including presentations in BSL and short written assignments in English. Watching signed clips in BSL to develop receptive skills and develop vocabulary. Learning activities are supported by various media including written English texts, online videos and DVDs.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written assignment500 words1, 5, 7-8Written feedback
In-class presentation2 minutes1-8Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Test (productive skills)504-5 minutes1, 3-8Written feedback
Test (conversational skills)506-8 minutes1-8Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Test (productive skills)Test (productive skills)1, 3-8Referral/Deferral period
Test (conversational skills)Test (conversational skills)1-8Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Main English text:

  • Rachel Sutton-Spence and Bencie Woll, The Linguistics of British Sign Language: An Introduction, 1998

Recommended materials:

  • Cath Smith, Let’s Sign Dictionary, 2nd Edition 2009
  • Cath Smith, Signs Make Sense: A Guide to British Sign Language, 1990

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

A range of online and DVD video resources

Key words search

BSL, British Sign Language, Beginner

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date

September 2014

Last revision date