BA Japanese Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course description

Profile Picture Iva Stancheva

It has been a dream of mine to gain a deeper understanding of Japanese society, way of life and culture.

When interacting with the staff, students, professors at Manchester, as well as roaming around the city, I had no doubts in my mind that it is the right place for me. The highlight of my course has been the many opportunities to connect and interact with academics from my field as well as other universities in Japan and exchange students.

Iva Stancheva / BA Business Management and Japanese

Our BA Japanese Studies course will give you a firm grounding in the Japanese language while you study Japan in its historical, cultural social and global contexts. 

You will benefit from research-led teaching in areas such as Japanese visual culture, popular and youth culture, religion, intellectual and social history, society and education. 

You will develop various linguistic skills, including speaking and writing accurately, and understanding and analysing audio, video and written materials in different registers. 

You will also learn how to speak to a group with confidence and translate with appropriate sensitivity. 

Year 1 will see you study core course units, but you will be able to choose specific unit to focus on areas of interest in the study of Japan and East Asia from Year 2. 

In addition,  Flexible Honours  may allow you to study an additional arts, languages or cultures subject.

Special features

Residence abroad

You can study and/or work  for up to a year in a country or countries relevant to your chosen language(s) to improve your communicative language skills in a native-speaker environment.

Collaborations and partnerships

The University has links with language and cultural institutions across the city, including:

  • Instituto Cervantes - a centre for Spanish culture;
  • HOME - international and contemporary art, theatre and film;
  • Manchester China Institute - promoting mutual understanding in UK-China relations through research, teaching, and activities;
  • Alliance Française - home of French language and culture.


The University is home to over 30 international and language-related student societies offering a breadth of cultural activities and experiences.

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 be taught through a mixture of formal lectures, seminars and tutorials. The individual study component could be spent reading, producing written work, revising for examinations or working in the University's Language Centre .

The advanced language course includes an Independent Language Learning Portfolio, through which you build up a portfolio of independent work by making linguistic notes on, for example, Japanese videos, TV, or newspapers. This enables you to develop not only your linguistic expertise, but also your skills in independent learning - a vital requirement in today's knowledge-based society.

Applicants should be aware that learning Japanese is very intensive. In Year 1, you will have approximately 18 contact hours in formal study sessions (8-19 hours of which will be dedicated to Japanese). For every hour spent at University, you will be expected to complete a further 2-3 hours of independent study. You will also need to study during the holiday periods.

The first few weeks may be particularly intensive, and we strongly advise all applicants to ensure that they have learned 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); 
  • in your final year, a dissertation based on a research topic of your choice.  

Assessment methods vary from course unit to course unit - see individual course unit listings for more information.

Course content for year 1

The language course unit for beginners involves intensive study of the language with native and non-native Japanese teachers and regular testing.

The advanced language course unit includes an Independent Language Learning Portfolio (see Teaching and Learning).

In addition to language study, there is an introduction to Japanese Studies course unit and an introduction to Japanese History unit, as well as an optional course unit in Empire and Culture in East Asia.

You will take only the language units relevant to your level of language in each year of study.

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
History and Civilisation of Japan JAPA10111 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
Empire and Culture in East Asia JAPA13222 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

The language course units continue to build competence, and the Independent Language Learning Portfolio and learning partnerships remain central to this process. 

You will also develop your studies of Japan via a choice of course units 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 JAPA20122 20 Optional
Core Themes in Animated Film and Visual Culture of Postwar Japan JAPA20131 20 Optional
Religion in Japan JAPA20211 20 Optional

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

Students taking single honours Japanese will undertake a dissertation in Japanese studies to work on an area of particular interest in depth, as well as selecting from various units in religion, historical, cultural and social science. 

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
Dissertation in Japanese Studies JAPA30000 40 Mandatory
Japanese Language 6 JAPA51060 20 Mandatory
Bodies, Sex and Gender in Japan JAPA33071 20 Optional
Buddhism in Japan JAPA33082 20 Optional
Japanese Language 5 JAPA51050 20 Optional


The University Language Centre is home to language resources, including a new interpreting suite, purpose-built recording rooms, and resources for more than 70 languages.  

The Centre also offers multilingual word processing, language learning software, off-air recording and AV duplication, multilingual terrestrial and satellite TV, and extensive support and advice for learners.  

Learn more at facilities

Disability support

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