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MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Japanese Studies)

Course Description

The aim is to equip students to carry out independent academic work, including training 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.

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 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.

Visit the website: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/amammpjps

Course detail

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 culture(s);
- 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;
- acquired the skills to use library and internet resources independently.


1: Dissertation (50 % of the grade)

In their dissertation, students will be required to demonstrate research competence using Japanese-language sources, and to conduct research that addresses contemporary and/or historical issues of relevance to Japan. Prospective students are asked to contact potential supervisors before applying to Cambridge to ensure that an appropriate supervisor is available.

2: Three papers (50% of the grade)

Each of the three papers (a paper is an exam for which teaching is provided) is assessed either by a research essay of maximum 5,000 words or an alternative exercise agreed by the Degree Committee and counts for one sixth of the total grade (i.e. 16.67 percent). Please note that papers are usually only offered if there are at least two takers.

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

The theory and methodology seminar meets throughout the first two terms, connecting Japanese Studies to various disciplinary approaches and theories. Students will also receive training on sources and resources, library searches, academic writing, analysis and presentation skills, writing a research proposal or grant application, career planning etc., and will have opportunities to engage in peer review as they present their dissertation proposals.

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

A: Graduate papers in Japanese Studies

- Historical Narratives of Ancient and Medieval Japan
- New Approaches in Early-modern Japanese Literature
- Asia in Theory
- Topics in modern Korean history: Japanese imperialism in Korea

B: Advanced research seminar papers in Japanese Studies (maximum one of these papers)

- Classical Japanese Texts
- Modern Japanese Cultural History
- Contemporary Japanese Society
- The East Asian Region

C: Language options (maximum one of these papers)

- Modern Japanese Texts
- Literary Japanese
- Classical and Literary Chinese
- Readings in Elementary Korean

D: Theory and methods, papers borrowed from other faculties (maximum one of these courses)

Papers in the discipline related to the research topic of the dissertation. These papers will be mainly borrowed from other faculties, e.g. Anthropology, Literature Studies, History, Politics, Gender Studies.


- For the MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Japanese Studies), 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.

- For the MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Japanese Studies), students submit essays as part of their degree:

Most papers are assessed by essay, as described in Form and Conduct. Essays are not more than 5,000 words, including footnotes, but excluding bibliography. Candidates may apply to the Degree Committee for approval of an equivalent Alternative Exercise.

- For the MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Japanese Studies), 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 candidate 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.


Those who would like to apply for the PhD after the MPhil will be expected to have scored at least 67% 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 with their GRADSAF (graduate application) a workable and interesting research proposal and demonstrate that they have the required academic knowledge and skills to carry out their project.

Admission is at the discretion of the Degree Committee, which judges each graduate applicant on his or her own merits and in accordance with its own set rules and regulations.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

- Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) -

NB: Applicants should check the Faculty's website before the academic year 2016 - 2017 is due to start to see if AHRC funding is available to apply for. Home PhD and MPhil students and EU students who satisfy home residency criteria may be eligible for a full studentship which covers the University Composition Fee and College Fees plus an annual maintenance stipend. EU students are eligible for a fees-only award.

Further information: http://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/fees-and-funding/funding/ahrc-funded-students

- Faculty Funding Opportunities -

Further information: http://www.ames.cam.ac.uk/postgraduate/funding/faculty

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

Entry Requirements

High 2:1 or a 1st at B.A. level from a UK university or equivalent. Good working knowledge (oral and written) of Japanese will be expected. Candidates should have either a BA in Japanese Studies or Japanese language ability of at least level N2, or equivalent.

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