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Course content

The Japanese Studies pathway is a specially designed one-year graduate seminar and research course with substantial taught elements for students who want to deepen their undergraduate education and/or prepare for a PhD in Japanese studies. 

All students in the year group attend the Theories and Methodologies in Japanese Studies Seminar, at which they meet regularly and are introduced to various disciplinary approaches in Japanese Studies. In addition they are guided through the various steps of academic research, writing, presentation and career development. They are free to choose two additional courses from a variety of options so that each student receives a tailor-made education. Approximately half of the time is allocated to individual research and the writing of a dissertation under the guidance of leading scholars.

The aim is to equip students to carry out independent academic work, including training, where appropriate, in how to use Japanese-language sources for research purposes, which lies at the heart of the programme. Our guiding principle is to ensure that each student receives the best possible education, providing a coherent course but with the flexibility to cater for individual needs.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the MPhil programme, students will be expected to have:

  • acquired the ability to read, interpret and translate primary sources in modern and/or classical Japanese;
  • acquired a good knowledge of the general scholarship on modern and/or classical Japanese studies;
  • acquired an in-depth knowledge of the secondary literature relevant to the subject of their dissertation;
  • developed the ability to formulate original research questions and produce a well-constructed, argument to answer them, in the form of an independent piece of research based on the use of primary and secondary sources; and
  • acquired the skills to use library and internet resources independently.


Those who would like to apply for the PhD after the MPhil will be expected to have scored at least 67 per cent or above (or the equivalent from an overseas university) in their master's degree which should be related to the PhD programme they wish to pursue. All applicants should submit, via the Applicant Portal, a workable and relevant research proposal and demonstrate that they have the required academic knowledge and skills to carry out their project.


1: Dissertation (50 per cent of the grade)

2: Three papers (50 per cent of the grade)

2.1: MPhil in Japanese Studies – Theories and Methodologies in Japanese Studies

2.2 Two from the following four groups of papers (A–D):

  • A: Graduate papers in Japanese Studies
  • B: Advanced research seminar papers in Japanese Studies (maximum one of these papers)
  • C: Language options (maximum one of these papers)
  • D: Theory and methods, papers borrowed from other faculties (maximum one of these courses)


Students taking the Japanese Studies pathway will receive feedback on their work after the June Degree Committee meeting (for essays and examinations) and after the final Degree Committee meeting of the year in September (for MPhil dissertation results and overall degree results). Students will receive feedback routinely throughout the year from their supervisors. Supervisors also produce feedback via termly online supervision reports.



For the Japanese Studies pathway, students will submit a thesis of not more than 15,000 words, including footnotes and appendices but excluding bibliography on a subject approved by the Degree Committee. All MPhil dissertations must include a brief abstract at the start of the dissertation of no more than 400 words.


Three written examination papers on subjects approved by the Degree Committee. Students may submit essays as part of their degree in place of written examinations. Essays are not more than 5,000 words, including footnotes, but excluding bibliography. Students may apply to the Degree Committee for approval of an equivalent alternative exercise.

Written examination

For the Japanese Studies pathway, students may take examinations as part of their degree:

Some courses may be assessed by written examination, as described in "form and conduct". With the approval of the Degree Committee, a student may offer, in place of one or more of those papers, the same number of essays, each of not more than 5,000 words, or equivalent alternative exercises approved by the Degree Committee.


An oral examination on the thesis and on the general field of knowledge within which it falls, which may be waived at the discretion of the Degree Committee.

Funding Opportunities

In addition to financial support offered by the University, the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies offers a number of subject-specific funding opportunities for accepted students. Please refer to the Faculty website for the list of currently available funding.

If you wish to be considered for funding from the University and other sources, please visit the Funding page on the Graduate Admissions website.

General Funding Opportunities

Apply using the Applicant Portal

The Apply Now button on the right will take you to the Applicant Portal, where you can create and submit your application and supporting documents, and request references.

An application is only complete when:

  1. you have submitted your application and supporting documents via the Applicant Portal
  2. you have paid the £60 application fee
  3. your referees have provided their references.

If you miss the deadlines specified in this section, you will not be able to submit your application.

For applicants who are required to satisfy the English language condition:

The Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies accepts the IELTS (Academic) and TOEFL examinations to satisfy the English language requirement. Please see the Arts Language Requirement tables given above for the minimum marks which need to be achieved in each element for the IELTS (Academic) and TOEFL.

Selection Process

Applications are considered as they are received (rolling admissions). It is in the applicant's best interests to submit their application early in the academic year, ie to meet the funding deadline and to ensure that their application is considered in good time, as places can be filled before the final deadline date.

Further information on How To Apply

Visit the MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Japanese Studies) page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!