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BA Linguistics and Japanese / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course description

BA Linguistics and Japanese - Jessica Speed

"Manchester has a multitude of different Linguistics modules, so it is very easy to specialise in areas that you find most interesting.

"I already had a background of learning Japanese, but what attracted me to the Japanese department here was that the ability levels were split, so I would be able to study with people with a similar aptitude to me."

Jessica Speed / Year 3 student

Our BA Linguistics and Japanese course will enable you to delve into the science of language - an everyday phenomenon which impacts our lives on an individual and a global scale.

You will study topics such as the ways in which children acquire their first language, differences between the speech of men and women, how the sound systems and grammars of different types of language are organised, what happens when speakers of different languages come into contact, and much else besides.

You can also develop your proficiency in Japanese while studying the language within its cultural and historical context. You can start as an absolute beginner and go through to an advanced level over four years.

Language study offers much more than just language fluency. You'll explore diverse aspects of the culture, society, history, politics and literature of Japan, helping you to develop intercultural awareness and communication skills - both highly valued by employers.

You'll benefit from excellent teaching, student support and cutting-edge study facilities, as well as from the vibrancy and cultural diversity of Manchester itself, Western Europe's most multilingual city.

With placement options available at partner universities and in professional environments in Japan, a compulsory third year abroad gives our undergraduate students unforgettable and invaluable personal and professional experience.

Our course will help you to develop analytical and problem-solving skills. Often dealing with granular and complex data, your combination of humanities and scientific understanding will allow you to make connections across multiple fields of employment.


It is probably true to say that you will be doing more hours of study than many other students but if you put in the work your achievements will be correspondingly high.  If you are concerned that Japanese is not the same as European languages in terms of workload then you should probably not be considering this course. If you are planning to work part-time you must ensure that you are able to put in sufficient study hours.  Hard work is essential for learning Japanese - especially the written language - but doing so is an extraordinarily rewarding experience that opens numerous doors and produces very high levels of satisfaction.

Special features

University Language Centre
Take advantage of the library, language labs and multimedia facilities at the University Language Centre.

Study or work abroad

Your  year abroad  will offer the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of life in Japan, and further develop your language skills.

Learn from language experts

Language courses are mainly taught by native speakers, giving you a richer learning experience.

Access outstanding resources

You'll have the opportunity to access cutting-edge resources, including one of the largest holdings of linguistics texts in the UK, and to conduct research using English manuscripts held in our prestigious Special Collections.

Get involved with interesting projects

Our students are encouraged to take an active role in funded teaching-enhancement projects, whose outputs benefit them individually and collectively. For example, some of our students have developed an online atlas of dialect variation in the UK.

Enjoy cultural activities

Join the Japan Society North West for an exciting range of cultural events such as sushi-making demonstrations, Taiko drumming workshops, dining experiences and an annual Japan Day celebration.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a mixture of formal lectures, seminars and tutorials, spending approximately 12 hours a week in formal study sessions.

For every hour spent at University, you will be expected to complete a further two to three hours of independent study. You will also need to study during the holiday periods.

The individual study component could be spent reading, producing written work, revising for examinations or working in the University's Language Centre.

Applicants should be aware that learning Japanese is rewarding but very intensive. The first few weeks may be particularly rigorous for those who have not encountered Japanese script before, and we strongly advise all applicants to ensure that they have learned at least the hiragana script prior to Week 1 of teaching. Guidance on materials to help with this can be obtained from language tutors.

Coursework and assessment

You will be assessed in various ways, including:

  • written and oral examinations;
  • presentations;
  • coursework (which may include library research, linguistic fieldwork and data collection, or web-based research).

Many course units are assessed through a mixture of techniques.

In your final year, you can choose to write a dissertation.

Course content for year 1


  • In first year Linguistics, you learn to look at language in a new way. You will study topics ranging from grammar to semantics, from phonetics to sociolinguistics. All students study obligatory units including phonetics and phonology, sociolinguistics, semantics and (English) grammar, adding up to one half of the year's credits.
  • For Joint Honours students, half your credits come from the other component of your programme.


  • The first and second-year language courses include an Independent Language Learning Programme for post-beginners, through which you build up a portfolio of independent work by making linguistic notes on, for example, Japanese videos, satellite TV, or newspapers. This enables you to develop your linguistic expertise and independent learning - vital skills in today's knowledge-based society.
  • The intensive language teaching programme puts an emphasis on core language structures to provide secure foundations for progression to higher levels in subsequent years.
  • Students take core courses introducing them to academic skills and providing essential knowledge of history and society.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Introduction to Japanese Studies JAPA10030 20 Mandatory
Japanese Language 1 JAPA51011 20 Mandatory
Japanese Language 2 JAPA51022 20 Mandatory
Japanese Language 3 JAPA51031 20 Mandatory
Japanese Language 4 JAPA51042 20 Mandatory
English Word and Sentence Structure LELA10301 20 Mandatory
Language, Mind and Brain LELA10201 20 Optional
The Sounds of Language LELA10322 20 Optional
Study of Meaning LELA10332 20 Optional
History and Varieties of English LELA10342 20 Optional
From Text to Linguistic Evidence LELA10401 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 11 course units for year 1

Course content for year 2


  • In second year linguistics, the emphasis switches to linguistic theories. You will build on your new analytical skills by considering ideas about the nature of language and models of its structure. You will study units in syntactic theory, phonology, and either typology or grammatical semantics (altogether one quarter of the year's credits).
  • Joint honours students choose further course units from the same wide range of Linguistics and English language options. At least one third of second-year credits must come from each of the two components of your programme.


  • The language courses in year 2 continue to build competence and the Independent Language Learning Portfolio and learning partnerships are central to this process.
  • In addition students develop their knowledge of Japan via a choice of courses in areas such as Japanese history, religion, society and culture, and begin to prepare for residence abroad.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Japanese Language 3 JAPA51031 20 Mandatory
Japanese Language 4 JAPA51042 20 Mandatory
Japanese Language 5 JAPA51050 20 Mandatory
Modern and Contemporary Japan: Social Dynamics JAPA20121 20 Optional
Core Themes in Animated Film and Visual Culture of Postwar Japan JAPA20131 20 Optional
Religion in Japan JAPA20212 20 Optional
Phonology LELA20012 20 Optional
Analysing Grammar LELA20022 20 Optional
Typology LELA20032 20 Optional
Societal Multi-lingualism LELA20102 20 Optional
Semantics LELA20281 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 11 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

Your third year of study is spent abroad  under approved conditions. Our partner Universities are:

Chuo University, Dokkyo University, Fukuoka Women's University, Hiroshima University, Hitotsubashi University, Hokkaido University, Kanagawa University, Kansai Gaidai University, Keio University, Kobe University, Kyoto University, Kwansei Gakuin University, Meiji University, Meiji Gakuin University, Nanzan University, Ochanomizu University, Oita University, Osaka University, Rikkyo University, Ritsumeikan University, Saitama University, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Waseda University, Yamagata University.

Course content for year 4


  • By the final year, your study is tailored to your own interests by drawing on course units from a wide range of specialities. See example course units in the list below.
  • You will also have the option of writing a dissertation, where you explore and write about a particular topic in depth.


  • Students will select from various modules in Japanese religion, history, culture and society.
  • The language teaching programme continues to develop and refine abilities in all skills and has specialised strands for either Translation (Japanese to English) or Business Japanese Communication, depending on student preference.

Course units for year 4

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Japanese Language 6 JAPA51060 20 Mandatory
Japanese Language 7 JAPA51071 20 Mandatory
Bodies, Sex and Gender in Japan JAPA33071 20 Optional
Buddhism in Japan JAPA33082 20 Optional
Japanese Language 5 JAPA51050 20 Optional
Typology LELA20032 20 Optional
Societal Multi-lingualism LELA20102 20 Optional
Quantitative Methods in Language Sciences LELA20231 20 Optional
Semantics LELA20281 20 Optional
Pragmatics: Meaning, Context, and Interaction LELA20291 20 Optional
Psycholinguistics LELA20962 20 Optional
Dissertation LELA30000 40 Optional
Topics in the Study of Meaning in English LELA30032 20 Optional
Language Contact LELA30291 20 Optional
Topics in Language Development LELA30671 20 Optional
Language Policy and Planning LELA30751 20 Optional
Historical Syntax LELA30961 20 Optional
Minimalist Syntax LELA30971 20 Optional
Language and Mediality LELA31072 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 19 course units for year 4


Phonetics Lab
Undergraduate students can use the Phonetics Lab under supervision.

As well as making use of the wider University library network, you will have access to the University Language Centre, a modern open learning facility where you can study independently and make use of a library and audio-visual resources. There are also language laboratories and multimedia facilities.

For your Linguistics studies, we have two laboratories where you'll have the chance to use ultrasound imaging, laryngography and eye tracking technology. You'll also be able to use quantitative methods in the study of large language corpora.

Learn more on the Facilities pages for Linguistics and English Language  and  Modern Languages and Cultures .

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: