Asian Studies

About us

Welcome to one of the UK's most highly rated university departments for Asian Studies, ranked fourth in The Complete University Guide - Subject League Table 2024.

We teach undergraduate programmes in Chinese and Japanese, and offer a range of taught and research-led postgraduate programmes in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and East Asian Studies.

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Choose from a range of four-year MA (Master of Arts) honours degrees in:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese

Single and joint honours combinations are available, with the opportunity to study abroad. 

Take a taught or research programme, with degrees ranging from a one-year masters in East Asian Studies to PhDs in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and East Asian Studies.

Beginners Asian languages for everyone

Open Language courses in Chinese, Business Chinese, Japanese and Korean are free to all University of Edinburgh students. You can take one at any stage of your undergraduate or postgraduate programme.

Each course lasts one semester and can be taken for 20 credits or for extra credit, depending on your other study commitments. Classes are suitable for complete beginners.

Find out more about Open Language courses

Photo of a man in a Korean street holding an umbrella next to text saying Korean Scholarships

Scholarships in Korean Studies

For entry in September 2024 or January 2025, we are delighted to offer one student paying home (Scotland/UK) rates a scholarship covering full tuition fees for three years of PhD study. 

There are also scholarships for up to four students (PhD and MSc) covering £3,000 of tuition fees in the first year of study – home and international/EU rates. 

For MSc by Research students, this would be for September 2024 entry. If you take a Korean Studies pathway through our new East Asian Studies MSc programme, you may also be considered.

These scholarships have been made possible by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS) which has funded us as the Scottish Centre for Korean Studies from June 2019 until May 2027.

You do not need to apply for a scholarship – all eligible candidates who apply for the programme will be considered for them and contacted if successful.

In April 2023, we were saddened to hear of the sudden death of our former colleague in Asian Studies, Paul Dundas.

Paul studied Sanskrit and Prakrit as an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh and as a postgraduate at the University of Cambridge. He took up a teaching post in Sanskrit at Edinburgh in 1976 and stayed here for the rest of his career, providing major contributions to research in his field and helping generations of students and colleagues.

Read Julian Ward’s tribute to Paul

Graphic with the text #3 in the UK, World Top 10

QS World Rankings by Subject 2023

The University of Edinburgh is ranked 3rd in the UK for Modern Languages and for English Language and Literature.

We are also 3rd in the UK in the broad subject area of Arts & Humanities.

Globally, we’re in the World Top 10 for Modern Languages (7), English Language and Literature (9) and Arts & Humanities (10).

The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings are based on research citations and the results of major global surveys of employers and academics.

They are International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.

Browse the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023 on Top Universities

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The University of Edinburgh is ranked Top 5 in the UK for research in Modern Languages.

As reported in Times Higher Education, the rankings are based on the quality and breadth of our research in Modern Languages.

They come from the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) – the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

In addition to Modern Languages, research in Asian Studies was submitted to REF 2021 in the categories of Politics, Sociology, History and Theology.

Explore research in Asian Studies

Read more about LLC's performance in REF 2021

Tell us what you think of a potential new postgraduate opportunity

We would like to hear your views on a potential new postgraduate opportunity in Buddhist Studies. This taught MSc programme would be offered on campus in Edinburgh with a choice of courses in Divinity, History of Art, Asian Studies and Philosophy.

Take our short survey – five to ten minutes