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MA Japanese Studies

Course Description

SOAS offers the most comprehensive MA in Japanese Studies available anywhere in Europe.

Students are able to choose courses that cover all of Japan’s historical periods, from the earliest to the present and ranging over the social and political sciences as well as humanities.

The students who take this degree come from many countries and have a wide variety of academic backgrounds. Some have already studied, or lived in, Japan and wish to broaden their knowledge or understanding. Others wish to focus their previous training on the region, while still others will come from Japan or other East Asian countries wishing to study Japan from the perspective of a different culture and academic tradition.

Knowledge of the Japanese language is not a requirement of the course. Language courses, however, are popular options.

SOAS has its own Japan Research Centre and shares the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures with the University of East Anglia. Both can be of great benefit to students.

Also see the Dual Degree Programme in Global Studies between SOAS and Sophia University (Tokyo) (http://www.soas.ac.uk/japankorea/programmes/ma-japanese-studies-dual-degree/).

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/japankorea/programmes/majapstud/


Students take three course units (three full units, six half units, or a combination). One of the units is designated as a major, in relation to which students complete a 10,000 word dissertation. Note that some courses can only be taken as a major and some, notably language courses, only as a minor.

As the emphasis in the Regional Studies programmes is on interdisciplinary study, students are required to select their three courses from more than one discipline. The two minor units can be taken from the same discipline, but students cannot take a minor unit in the same discipline as their major.

One minor unit can be chosen from a different MA programme, for example the MA Chinese Studies or Korean Studies, subject to the approval of the MA Japanese Studies convenor and the relevant course convenor.

Some disciplines, such as Anthropology, Economics, or Politics, require an appropriate qualification (such as part of a first degree) if any of their courses are to be taken as the major subject. Students interested in such courses are advised to refer to the relevant webpage for details and, if necessary, to contact the convenor. Please note that convenors have discretion in deciding if an applicant's background is sufficient for the course concerned.

All courses are subject to availability

MA Japanese Studies- Programme Specifications 2012/13 (pdf; 30kb) - http://www.soas.ac.uk/japankorea/programmes/majapstud/file80726.pdf

Teaching & Learning

- Lectures and Seminars

The style of teaching in the Japanese Studies programme varies according to subject and teacher, but in most courses there is one 2-hour class each week. This may be an informal lecture followed by a discussion or student presentation.
At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take.

- Dissertation

The 10,000 word dissertation on an approved topic linked with one of the taught courses.

- Learning Resources

SOAS has its own Japan Research Centre and shares the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures with the University of East Anglia. Both can be of great benefit to students.

- SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.


A postgraduate degree in Japanese Studies from SOAS provides its students with competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Postgraduate students develop linguistic and cultural expertise which will enable them to continue in the field of research. Equally, they develop a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers. These include written and oral communication skills; attention to detail; analytical and problem solving skills; and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources.

Find out how to apply here - http://www.soas.ac.uk/admissions/pg/howtoapply/

Visit the MA Japanese Studies page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Charlie Orr

SOAS has an excellent reputation and my chosen course fitted my interests perfectly. So far my time here has exceeded every expectation. It’s been an amazing first year and I feel like I’ve accomplished a great deal. The course is full of new challenges every day and I’m constantly being given new reasons to find interest in my subjects. The lecturers are extremely well qualified and take personal interest in their students; they offer an amazing support system

Initially, my biggest inspiration for starting the course was to improve my language ability to a professional level, however after the course began, thanks to their continued support, all of my teachers and classmates have become a great source of motivation.

My fondest memory so far would have to be one of the language debates that we’ve had in class. It’s a chance to practice voicing our opinions in Japanese and the atmosphere is relaxed and informal.

Aside from the incredible library, I would have to say that the commitment to learning that is shared by both students and staff members is a unique aspect of SOAS. Everyone is striving to do their best and to bring out the best in others.


Canon Collins Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

These scholarships are for Masters study in any subject field.
The application process normally opens in December and closes in February, for study commencing in September the following year. Please go to the Canon Collins website and click "Apply for A Scholarship" and then "Canon Collins Scholarship for Masters Study in the UK" for further information on how to apply.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See website


Country/Nationality: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Application Procedure

See the website

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)

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Recipient: SOAS University of London

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