Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

East Asian Studies MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: East Asian Studies

East Asian countries are inseparably linked by their politics, histories, societies and cultures. Our Masters programme is distinct for its border-crossing focus, enabling you to take a transnational and comparative approach to East Asian Studies, or to concentrate on China, Japan or Korea.

With two of the world’s leading economic powers situated in East Asia, there is huge potential for both regional conflict and cooperation. Taking East Asian Studies is as relevant and critical now as it has been at any time since the end of World War II.

Programme flexibility

This new programme replaces our individual Masters programmes on China, Japan, Korea and East Asian Relations.

It has been structured to give you the freedom to design your own postgraduate coursework and research.

Unusually for a taught Masters programme, it has only one required taught course: a research methods class.

You will choose the rest of your taught courses from a wide range of options. These will help you explore the social, political, historical, economic and cultural factors that have made the East Asian region what it is today.

You will write your dissertation towards the end of the programme on a topic related to your own interests and expertise in East Asia and its constituent countries.

We will give you the tools to analyse and understand the complexities of East Asia in a global context, with skills relevant to professional sectors such as diplomacy, international relations, negotiation, and journalism.

No previous knowledge of an East Asian language is required and your classes will not typically involve language learning. If you would like to learn an East Asian language you don’t already know, you can opt to do so as part of the programme (Korean) or for additional credit (Chinese and Japanese).

Programme pathways

If you have completed a degree in Japanese, Chinese or Korean Studies, you may wish to use this opportunity to start learning about another country in East Asia, either on its own or in comparison.

Alternatively, you can opt to deepen your knowledge of the country you already specialise in.

Depending on the courses you take, you will graduate with a Masters (Msc) in:

  • East Asian Studies
  • East Asian Studies with Japanese Studies
  • East Asian Studies with Chinese Studies
  • East Asian Studies with Korean Studies

You can indicate when you apply which pathway suits you best and we will confirm your choice when you have joined the programme and selected your courses.

Why Edinburgh

Our programme is carefully designed to introduce skills and knowledge in a way that is clear, coherent and interconnected, supporting your academic development and research training towards your dissertation.

You will study in a stimulating, interdisciplinary environment and an international community of learners, each bringing their own perspective to class.

Our programme draws on unparalleled staff expertise across the East Asian region and across disciplines. Our thriving Asian Studies department has expertise in Japanese, Chinese and Korean Studies, and a great programme of cultural events, including its own seminar series.

You will benefit from the resources of a leading cultural capital city, from the University of Edinburgh Library (some two million borrowable volumes) to the National Library of Scotland. A compact, green and historic city, with excellent restaurants, cinemas and theatres, it’s a great place to live and study.

You can take the MSc in East Asian Studies over one year, full-time, or two years, part-time.

By the end of the programme, you will have completed courses totalling 180 credits.

All students take our course on ‘Doing Research on East Asia: Key Concepts, Approaches and Issues’. This is worth 20 credits.

You will then choose five optional courses, each worth 20 credits. You will select these from a wide range of courses relating to specialised regional and disciplinary knowledge.

The final element of the programme is your dissertation. This is a piece of independent research - 15,000 words (worth 60 credits) - written with the advice and support of a designated supervisor.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScEast Asian Studies1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25
MScEast Asian Studies2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

On completion of the programme, you will have gained the skills to:

  • articulate and describe major events, actors, and issues impacting East Asia and / or individual countries in the region.
  • critically discuss and utilise theoretical and conceptual tools for understanding the region, individual countries, and / or issues relevant to both.
  • explain and critique the scholarship in your chosen subject area.
  • select and utilise appropriate sources to support your arguments and research.
  • apply knowledge and skills to conduct independent research.

East Asia is widely perceived to be the focus of future global politics, with tensions between North Korea and the US, for example, dominating headlines worldwide.

Giving you a thorough grasp of historical and contemporary factors, our programme is designed to equip you with the knowledge to critically engage with these developments, either as they relate to one particular country or in comparison.

You will acquire the tools to analyse, understand and articulate the complexities of East Asia and its constituent countries in a global context, and in career-ready ways.

Your skills will give you an advantage in a range of careers across the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, including in:

  • diplomacy, negotiation and international relations
  • politics, policy work, civil service and law
  • journalism, broadcasting and media
  • business, finance and commerce
  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
  • education, outreach, advocacy and training
  • leisure, tourism and travel
  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
  • research and development

The enhanced research skills you will develop through training, coursework and your dissertation are a valuable asset if you wish to continue on to PhD study.

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, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

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. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScEast Asian Studies1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScEast Asian Studies2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

There are a number of scholarship opportunities available for this programme depending on your study pathway.

If you take a Chinese Studies pathway through the MSc in East Asian Studies, you may be considered for a scholarship covering one year of UK tuition fees for the programme. The application deadline for this scholarship is Monday 6 May 2024.

If you take a Korean Studies pathway through the programme, you may be considered for a scholarship which covers £3,000 of tuition fees. The application deadline for this scholarship is Monday 6 May 2024.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Please be aware that applications must be submitted and complete, i.e. all required documents uploaded, by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered in that round. Your application will still be considered if you have not yet met the English language requirement for the programme.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024/25:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 06 November 2023 21 December 2023
2 15 January 2024 14 March 2024
3 11 March 2024 02 May 2024
4 20 May 2024 18 July 2024
5 01 July 2024 08 August 2024

You must submit one reference with your application.

You must submit one reference with your application.

The online application process involves the completion of a web form and the submission of supporting documents.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH