Asian Studies

Japanese Studies

Choose from undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Japanese Studies, with integrated course offerings on China and Korea.

Why study Japanese in Edinburgh?

Over the past 150 years, Japan has experienced change at breakneck pace, but has nevertheless retained its fascinating cultural heritage. Study with us and you’ll develop the linguistic and analytical skills to engage critically, and in a truly interdisciplinary way, with this dynamic society - as well as understanding its place in East Asia, now one of the world’s most important and influential regions.

You’ll be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh in a global festival city, consistently voted the ‘most liveable’ in Britain, with a thriving East Asian cultural scene. Around campus you’ll find excellent libraries, language learning facilities, and collections, including over 5,000 Japanese language titles in the University’s East Asian Studies Collection. There’s lots going on in our tightly-knit community, from film screenings, performances and workshops by visiting Noh masters, and an Anime Society, to a regular Asian Studies seminar series featuring visiting speakers from around the world.

Undergraduate programmes

Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to offer undergraduate honours degrees in Japanese, enabling you to learn the language in the context of Japan’s history, politics, international relations, literature, theatre, cinema, and religion, past and present. Offering a single honours programme, and a joint honours degree with Linguistics, we are also one of the few programmes in the UK to offer a degree in Japanese Studies with integrated course offerings on China and Korea.

Having received Edinburgh University Students' Association awards for innovative teaching, use of student feedback, and overall course excellence, we pride ourselves on active, inclusive learning led by cutting edge research and the best practice in the field. Our student-led Peer Support Group has been voted best in the University and praised for student-staff partnership.

Our programmes are designed for beginners, with intensive classroom tuition from native Japanese speakers. Our final year students regularly pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test at N2 and N1 level.

Postgraduate programmes

Continue your Japanese journey with a Masters by Research or PhD in Japanese, or take a taught masters programme in East Asian Relations, Comparative Literature, or Translation Studies.  In Japanese Studies, our experienced and well-published supervisors have particular strengths in:

  • Japanese performing arts, both traditional (especially Japanese drama of the Tokugawa period), and contemporary
  • Japanese/Chinese relations
  • media and politics
  • the history of Japanese religion (especially Zhenyan or Shingon Buddhism)
  • the Meiji period
  • traditional and modern Japanese literature

Find out more about postgraduate programmes in Asian Studies

Voices in Japanese Studies

Kindly funded by the British Association for Japanese Studies, our podcast features students of Japanese Studies in conversation with some of the subject's leading academics.

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 East Asian Studies. This taught MSc programme on the humanities and social sciences of East Asia would be aimed at students with a background in the study of China, Japan, or Korea. It would either be an on-campus or ‘hybrid’ programme.

Take our short survey – 10 mins approximately

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