Undergraduate study - 2022 entry
Open to the world

MA Japanese

UCAS code: T210

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Japanese

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 will develop the linguistic and analytical skills to engage critically, and in a truly interdisciplinary way, with this dynamic society.

You will also learn about Japan's place in East Asia, now one of the world's most important and influential regions.

Japanese at the University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to offer undergraduate honours degrees in Japanese.

Our programme has been carefully designed around the goal of making you an expert on Japan. It introduces skills and knowledge step by step, and we encourage you to see the connections between language, history, politics, culture and international relations at every stage.

By the end of the programme you will have demonstrated your expertise through your dissertation, which will draw upon four years of rigorous Japanese studies training.

You will also have had the opportunity to study other subjects from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh and to spend a year studying in Japan.

Research-led options

Our research spans a wide range of Japanese Studies fields, including:

  • pre-modern and modern history

  • politics

  • international relations

  • religion

  • theatre

  • cinema

  • linguistics

  • literature

Our range of Japanese Studies option courses reflects this diversity, which means you will be able to choose a path through your programme that suits you.

Teaching excellence

We consistently receive excellent feedback from students in Japanese.

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.

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.

Year 1

You will study Japanese language at beginner, post-beginner or advanced level, depending on your existing language skills.

You will also take:

  • Modern East Asian History A: Japan and Korea in the Modern World

  • Academic Skills for Asian Studies

Option courses

In addition to your compulsory courses, you will also be able to choose from a wide range of option courses offered by the University of Edinburgh.

These include further courses in Japanese Studies, as well as courses in:

  • business

  • politics

  • economics

  • history

  • classics

  • philosophy

  • psychology

  • archaeology

  • other languages and cultures

Year 2

You will continue your Japanese language study and deepen your understanding of Japanese society and culture through Researching Japan: Skills, Methods and Critiques.

As in Year 1, you will complete your studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered across the University.

We also typically offer the following option courses for Year 1 and Year 2 students:

  • Politics and Economy of Japan

  • Pre-Modern East Asian History and the forces that shaped it

  • Society and Culture in Pre-modern East Asia

  • Introduction to Japanese Literature

  • Kanji: A linguistic and cultural introduction

  • Supernatural Japan: Doing Japanology through Yokai

  • Politics of Everyday Life in Modern Korea

Year 3

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad, turning classroom learning into living engagement with Japanese and East Asian culture. We have exchange relationships with some of the best universities in Japan.

You will spend a minimum of 30 weeks in Japan, where you will develop your language skills and 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 programme. Our graduates have told us how much it has benefited their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of Japan and East Asia.

If international travel is not possible, you will be offered an alternative means of engaging with Japanese, enabling you to meet your learning outcomes and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

You will continue to study Japanese language and choose from a range of option courses in Japanese history, politics, religion, culture, film and literature.

You will also complete your dissertation.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2021/22)

Our facilities

We believe there is no better place to study Japanese than in a city so rich in its own historic architecture, literature, arts and philosophy.

Teaching takes place in and around the University of Edinburgh's Central Area in a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections. This includes the University's East Asian Studies Collection, which has over 5,000 holdings in Japanese.

Both the University and the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures have excellent:

  • computing and audiovisual resources

  • support services

  • social spaces

Our student-led Peer Support Group was voted best in the University in 2018*, and there's lots going on in our tightly-knit community, from film screenings and an Anime Society, to a regular Asian Studies seminar series featuring visiting speakers from around the world.

*Students' Association Impact Awards

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 (a minimum of 30 weeks) at one of our partner institutions in Japan.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, and to develop your broader life experience and skills towards life after university.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Most of the courses are taught through:

  • lectures

  • seminars

  • tutorials

Language classes are active, innovative, inclusive and always informed by the best practice in the field.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by a combination of:

  • exams

  • class exercises

  • coursework

With more than 128 million native speakers, Japanese is one of the world's 15 most commonly used languages. A cultural treasure-trove, the country is also a major global power.

The skills you will develop on our programmes will give you the edge in a range of careers, both in Japan and closer to home, where links with East Asia are growing. The skills include:

  • speaking and translating the language

  • analysing key sources

  • understanding cultural nuances living abroad

Our graduates are now working as:

  • translators

  • interpreters

  • teachers

They work in areas and sectors such as:

  • finance

  • investment

  • law

  • publishing

  • management consultancy

There are also opportunities to continue studying at postgraduate level. Year 4 in particular develops the research skills you will need if you choose this path.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB-ABBB by end of S5 or AAAA-AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAB - ABB.
  • IB: 36 points with 665 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: a language other than English at A and English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: a language other than English at A or 7 and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: a language other than English at 6 and English at 5.

Additional requirements

Native speakers

Please note that the Japanese degrees involve beginners language study and are not suitable for native or near-native speakers.

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE/IGSCE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Japanese

Additional costs

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 in Japan as a compulsory part of your programme.

Costs will vary depending on the location. Some scholarship money may be available from external sources, on a competitive basis.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding