Study modes: Full-time, Part-time
Programme website: Japanese
Doctorate-level study is an opportunity to expand upon your interests and expertise in a community that really values research; and to make an original, positive contribution to learning in Japanese and East Asian Studies.
First taught at Edinburgh in 1976, Japanese Studies has developed to encompass a thriving postgraduate research programme covering a wide spectrum of interests in history, politics, and the performing and literary arts.
In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), our research was submitted in the categories of:
- Modern Languages and Linguistics
- Politics and International Studies
- Theology and Religious Studies
The results reaffirm Edinburgh’s position as one of the UK’s leading research universities - third in the UK based on the quality and breadth of its research in Modern Languages and Linguistics alone, according to Times Higher Education's REF power ratings.
Join our community and undertake a specialised research project under the guidance of experienced and well-published supervisors. We have particular strengths in:
- Japanese performing arts, both traditional and contemporary
- Japanese-Chinese relations
- media and politics
- the history of Japanese religion
- traditional and modern Japanese literature
- the Meiji period and empire studies
Working with colleagues elsewhere in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, and across the wider University, we are able to support PhD theses crossing boundaries between languages and/or disciplines, including comparative literature, film studies, and translation studies.
Over the course of your PhD, you’ll be expected to complete an original body of work under the expert guidance of your supervisors leading to a dissertation of usually between 80,000 and 100,000 words.
You will be awarded your doctorate if your thesis is judged to be of an appropriate standard, and your research makes a definite contribution to knowledge.
Go beyond the books
Beyond the Books is a podcast from the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at research and the people who make it happen.
Listen to a mix of PhD, early career and established researchers talk about their journey to and through academia and about their current and recent research.
This programme includes optional training on research skills, methods and problems.
Between the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), the Careers Service and the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), you’ll find a further range of programmes and resources to help you develop your postgraduate skills.
You will also have access to the University’s fantastic libraries, collections and worldwide strategic partnerships.
As part of our research community, you will be immersed in a world of knowledge exchange, with lots of opportunities to share ideas, learning and creative work.
Activities range from a regular seminar series in Asian Studies (with talks by staff, research students and visiting speakers) to film and anime screenings, noh performances, and workshops, including those hosted by the Consulate General of Japan, the Japan Society, and the Japan Foundation.
Our graduates tell us that they value LLC’s friendliness, the connections they make here and the in-depth guidance they receive from our staff, who are published experts in their field.
Based in the Main University Library, the Centre for Research Collections is unique in the UK. It brings together:
- a collection of more than 400,000 rare books
- six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
- the University’s collections of art, historical musical instruments and other objects
Notable collections include the East Asian Studies Collection of some 50,000 print and digital resources, of which 5,000 are in the Japanese language. We also have a specialised collection of Japanese journals and reference works.
As a PhD candidate here, you will be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh in a world-leading festival city with a thriving East Asian cultural scene.
Many important collections are a short walk from our buildings, including those in the National Library, Museum and Galleries of Scotland.
These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.
A UK 2:1 honours degree and a masters degree, or their international equivalents, in a related subject. We may also consider your application if you have equivalent qualifications or experience; please check with the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) before you apply.
Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:
English language requirements
Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.
English language tests
We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:
- IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
- TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
- C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
- Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
- PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.
Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
Degrees taught and assessed in English
We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:
We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).
If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.
Find out more about our language requirements:
There are a number of scholarship schemes available to eligible candidates on this PhD programme, including awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Please be advised that many scholarships have more than one application stage, and early deadlines.
Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:
Select your programme and preferred start date to begin your application.
PhD Japanese - 3 Years (Full-time)
PhD Japanese - 6 Years (Part-time)
|Programme start dates
|9 September 2024
|30 June 2024
|6 January 2025
|31 October 2024
We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.
You must submit two references with your application.
The online application process involves the completion of a web form and the submission of supporting documents.
For a PhD programme, you should include:
- a sample of written work of about 3,000 words (this can be a previous piece of work from an undergraduate or masters degree)
- a research proposal - a detailed description of what you hope to achieve and how
You will also need to supply two references.
Before you apply, you should also look at the interests and expertise of our research community on the programme website. This will help you decide if this programme is right for you and your supervision needs.
Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes: