Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

MA Japanese and Linguistics

UCAS code: TQ21

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Japanese and Linguistics

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’ll develop the linguistic and analytical skills to engage critically with this dynamic society.

On this programme, you’ll benefit from the same Japanese language training as our MA (Hons) Japanese students, but will be able to focus your studies on the social scientific understanding of language. Language classes are active, innovative, inclusive, and always informed by the best practice in the field.

Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to offer undergraduate honours degrees in Japanese and our programme has been carefully designed around the goal of making you an expert on Japan.

Through studying Linguistics, you will also learn how language is acquired, produced and understood; how it functions in interaction between individuals and in society; about its abstract structure and representation in the brain; and how it changes over time.

A highlight of the programme is the opportunity to study abroad and experience Japanese culture firsthand. You will spend Year 3 studying in Japan.

Year 1

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

You will also take two semester-long courses which introduce you to the principles of language analysis. You will study the way language is structured, the regional and social variations of language in general - and of the English language in particular - and be introduced to the study of semantics and pragmatics.

In addition to your compulsory courses, you will also choose from a wide range of option courses offered by the University of Edinburgh. For example, you can opt to learn more about East Asian history, take a course in Japanese literature, or study something unrelated to Japan.

Year 2

You will continue your Japanese language study, which will develop your written and spoken Japanese, together with second-year courses in Linguistics.

You will also have the opportunity to deepen your understanding of Japanese society and culture through Researching Japan: Skills, Methods and Critiques.

Year 3

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’ll develop your language skills and cultural awareness, start work on your own research project, and complete prescribed work in language sciences.

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 benefitted their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of Japan and East Asia.

Year 4

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

You will also study specialist language sciences courses, along with option courses in either linguistics or Japanese studies, or a combination of the two.

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 (2020/21)

Our facilities

We believe there is no better place to study Japan than 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 bursting with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections, including the University’s East Asian Studies Collection, of which over 5,000 holdings are in Japanese.

The University also has excellent computing and audiovisual resources, support services and social spaces, including many in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures and neighbouring School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences. Our specialist linguistics and phonetics equipment - including recording studios, experiment booths, and a perception laboratory - ranks among the best in the world.

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

*Students' Association Impact Awards.

Study abroad

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 and 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 and coursework.

Programme details

Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.

To give you an idea of what to expect from 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 details (2020/21)

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’ll develop on our programme, from speaking to translating the language, analysing key sources and understanding cultural nuances living abroad, will give you the edge in a range of careers, both in Japan and closer to home, where links with East Asia are growing.

Our graduates are now working as translators, interpreters and teachers, in areas such as finance, investment and law, and in sectors as diverse as publishing and management consultancy.

There are also opportunities to continue studying at postgraduate level, with Year 4 in particular developing the research skills you’ll 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: 39 points with 666 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.

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

*(Revised 27 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition.)

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 and Linguistics

Additional costs

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