Undergraduate study - 2023 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, 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 the programme that suits you.

Teaching excellence

Our courses are mostly taught in seminars and tutorials, so you will have plenty of opportunities 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.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this four-year programme is its flexibility.

In Years 1 and 2, your pre-honours years, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subject of Japanese.

As well as broadening your education and skill set, this may enable you to change the focus of your programme in Years 3 and 4, your honours years.

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

You will complete your Year 1 studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

You can, for example, opt to study another language. We offer one of the widest ranges of languages of any UK university - the majority are suitable for complete beginners and include cultural study.

There are also additional optional courses in Japanese Studies.

Other options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • linguistics and language sciences
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

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.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will complete your studies with option courses.

We typically offer the following 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

You can also study a wide range of courses outside Asian Studies.

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 preparing you for your final year.

Year 4

You will continue to study Japanese language at advanced level, including spoken and written Japanese and translation from Japanese to English.

You will choose from a range of honours-level option courses in Japanese history, politics, religion, culture, film and literature.

You will 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 (2022/23)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries, collections and centres

Based in the Main University Library, the Centre for Research Collections is unique in the UK. The centre brings together a collection of more than 400,000 rare books and six kilometres of archives and manuscripts. It also houses the University’s collections of art, historical musical instruments and other objects.

The Centre's treasures include over 100 rare and pre-1900 Chinese and Japanese books. More broadly, the East Asian Studies Collection runs to over 50,000 resources, both print and digital, of which over 5,000 are in Japanese.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, including the Japan Society and Anime Society.

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes, to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to engage.

EUSA also supports the Japanese Studies Peer Support Group, which was voted best in the University in 2018*.

We typically host visiting Noh masters from Japan for an annual performance and student workshops.

There are also film screenings and an Asian Studies seminar series featuring visiting speakers from around the world. This will bring you closer to students of Chinese and Korean too.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections, including the National Library, Museum, and Galleries of Scotland.

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.

*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 our 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 through a combination of:

  • exams
  • class exercises
  • coursework

Skills and experience

Studying a language to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, a resilient problem solver, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

Beyond the language skills you will develop on this programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.

Opportunities at home and away

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.

As the UK's links with East Asia are growing, you do not have to relocate to make the most of your degree. Wherever you are in the world, the ability to understand and communicate in Japanese will make you stand out.

Our alumni can be found in every kind of career, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative. Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to career pathways in:

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

Further study

The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level.

At the University of Edinburgh, for example, we typically offer a Masters by Research degree in Japanese, and taught MSc programmes in:

  • East Asian Relations
  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies

Careers advice

We have an excellent Careers Service. Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills, including through peer initiatives such as Life After LLC (Literatures, Languages and Cultures) where you can draw inspiration from our graduates.

Be inspired by our alumni

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
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at 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: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

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, PTE Academic, 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

As long as international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 in Japan. The costs incurred will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally reimburse you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

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