Postgraduate study

Japanese Society & Culture

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Japanese Society & Culture

The last 20 years have been a period of transition for Japan.

The abrupt end in the early 1990s of Japan’s seemingly unstoppable economic growth plunged the nation into two decades of recession, which has in turn brought to the fore a range of social and political issues accumulated since the Second World War.

The end of Japanese economic superiority also coincided with the end of the Cold War, an event that brought about new regional and global dynamics, and with them new security challenges.

Meanwhile, Japanese culture has experienced a renaissance, with Japan recognised worldwide as a centre of global ‘cool’, and Japanese cultural products continuing to find new markets and influence new demographics worldwide.

The overall picture is of a rapidly changing nation in the vanguard of post-industrial societies — fascinating not only for its rich traditional heritage and diversity, but also for what its recent experience can tell us about world trends.

Understanding such complexity requires an interdisciplinary approach, and we offer you the opportunity to explore Japanese history, international relations, politics, religion, and arts, and help you see the connections between them.

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.

By the end of the programme you will have acquired specialist skills and knowledge that mark you out as an expert on Japan, and the confidence to apply those skills in industry, academia or beyond.

The programme is taught through a combination of seminars and tutorials. You will take one compulsory and four option courses, as well as a compulsory research skills and methods course. After two semesters of taught courses you will conduct your own research for your dissertation.

Compulsory courses:

  • State, Society and National Identity in Japan after 1989
  • Research Skills and Methods

Option courses may include:

  • The Buddhist Brush: Discursive and Graphic Expressions of Japanese Buddhism
  • Contemporary Japanese Cinema
  • Japanese Performing Arts
  • Japanese Religions in the Modern Era
  • Japanese Cyberpunk
  • East Asian International Relations
  • The Role of Sub-State Actors in East Asian Politics
  • Radical Japan, culture, politics and protest in Japan's 'Long 1960's'

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
MScJapanese Society and Culture1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
MScJapanese Society and Culture2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2018/19

Students who follow the programme will:

  • develop critical awareness of at least two specific areas of Japanese Studies, both in terms of the indigenous literary and/or critical traditions and in comparison with Western critical thinking
  • acquire specialist knowledge of Japanese culture and awareness of the interaction of Japanese and other cultures in the contemporary context
  • use the bibliographic, internet and other relevant resources to advanced level
  • develop the ability to read and evaluate critically core texts in the specific areas studied

Those with previous experience in Japanese language learning will have the opportunity to develop the necessary linguistic skills to conduct research in defined areas within Japanese Studies by retrieving, selecting, translating and assimilating information from Japanese sources.

The flexibility of focus this programme offers makes it an ideal foundation for advanced study, potentially leading to an academic career. Teaching or curatorship roles in cultural institutions are alternative career pathways

The transferable skills you gain in communication, project management and presentation will prove a valuable asset to employers in any field.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant discipline.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2019 31 July 2019

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 a reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH