Asian Studies

Japanese Studies

100% overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey for 2018.

Japanese Studies

Key facts

An innovative degree structure that supports you at every stage

Our degree has been carefully designed around the core goal of making you an expert on Japan. The programme introduces skills and knowledge step-by-step, and we encourage you to see the connections between language, history, politics, and culture at every stage. By the end of the degree you will have demonstrated your expertise through your dissertation, which will draw upon four years of rigorous Japanese Studies training.

Award winning language teaching

Our language teachers have won Edinburgh Students’ Association Awards for Innovative Teaching (2011-12) and overall excellence (‘Best Course’ 2012-13). Language classes are active, innovative, inclusive, and always informed by the best practice in the field. Our final year students regularly pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test at N2 and N1 level.


The course is very organised and teachers are extremely helpful. Despite having a rather heavy workload, teachers always make sure that no one is left behind. The course itself is very interesting and is taught in a way that would initiate students to learn more in their spare time. Outside the classroom, the Japanese department also holds events regularly and encourages all students to participate and help out. The relationship between all members in the department is very close and the learning experience is just the best that I have ever had.

Edinburgh University Students' Association Teaching Awards Nomination for Best Course 2016/17

Research led Japanese studies options

As an Area Studies department, our research spans a wide range of Japanese Studies fields, including pre-modern and modern history, politics, international relations, religion, theatre, cinema, linguistics, and literature. Our range of Japanese Studies option courses reflects this diversity, which means you will be able to choose a path through your degree that suits you. What’s more, our courses are mostly taught in seminars and tutorials, so you will have plenty of opportunity to contribute to class discussion and receive feedback on your progress.

A year abroad at the best universities in Japan

Your entire third year will be spent at one of our partner institutions in Japan. We have exchange relationships with some of the best universities in Japan, including Waseda, Keio, Ritsumeikan and Hokkaido University among many others. While abroad you will take intensive language courses, develop your cultural awareness, and start work on your own research project. The year abroad is a truly transformative experience, and one of the highlights of your degree.

96% of students happy with teaching on the programme (NSS 2018)

We consistently receive excellent feedback from students in Japanese, and our NSS results are amongst the highest in Asian Studies nationally. And with us you have the added benefit of receiving world-class training in Japanese Studies in one of the most beautiful, cosmopolitan, and culturally rich cities in the world.


Since graduating from Edinburgh in 2016, I have been working at a Japanese law firm, providing legal assistance as well as translation and interpretation services. From a linguistic point of view, my work would certainly not be possible were it not for the excellent teaching I received during my time at Edinburgh – both in the city itself and in Japan. I also find that culturally, the knowledge and experiences I gained while at Edinburgh are invaluable to my life here, helping me to understand and adapt to the world around me while also reminding me of the importance in all areas of life of curiosity, critical thinking and open-mindedness. Whether it be in Japan, Scotland or elsewhere in the world, I hope to continue my learning long beyond university.

Elly Hamilton Darrah, graduate of the MA in Japanese
Postgraduate destinations

Postgraduate destinations

Continue Japanese with the MSc in Japanese Society and Culture

Using Japanese source materials in tandem with the extensive English language literature on Japan, we will help you build upon and develop your own interests, focus on the aspects of Japan that fascinate you, and support you as you carry out your own original research project.

Become an area expert with the MSc in East Asian relations

This programme is designed to equip students with the knowledge to critically engage with the complex politics of East Asia through recognised masters-level training in both Chinese/Japanese/Korean Studies and the social, political, historical and cultural dimensions of international relations in the region.

Start your research journey with the MSc by research, and finish your Japanese studies training on our PhD programme

Postgraduate researchers can choose from array of topics covering Japanese history, politics and the performing and literary arts.


The Japanese Society and Culture MSc provided a fantastic framework upon which to expand my knowledge of Japan, and more importantly, give me the necessary tools to develop robust critical thinking skills. Both of these factors are integral to my ongoing research.

Roddy McDougall, 3rd Year PhD candidate in Japanese

Visit us

Our undergraduate Open Days are a great chance to find out about student life in Edinburgh from the people who know it best: our students and staff. Our next Open Days will be for learners wishing to start their undergraduate degree in 2021. These events will be taking place later this year.

Keep up to date with Open Day information on the University of Edinburgh website