BA Chinese and Japanese

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Japanese Studies

Course unit fact file
Unit code JAPA10030
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Japanese Studies
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course lays the foundations of the Japanese Studies major. It will introduce students to the core events and influences in the making of modern Japan taught within a matrix of lectures, workshops, and practical orientations in Japan-specific study skills. The local Japanese experience of religion, language, and nation - from Samurai to ethnic culture, and the basic lineation of post-war and contemporary society, will be taught to ensure that students have a clear grasp of the major compositional and historical facts and issues in readiness for further studies of Japanese history, society, and culture.  The course will be divided into 3 sections: Geography, Language, History; The Making of Modern Japan’s Economy and Society – Family, Education, Class and Gender; and Understandings of Person, Society and Cosmos in Japan.



Available on: Single and joint honours programmes including Japanese or East Asian Studies 


  • To provide students with an introduction to the core topics of the Humanities in a Japanese context – revolt, restoration, empire, identity, nation, gender, culture.
  • To introduce students to a range of study skills from compiling a bibliography, to skills in reading and assessing academic texts in preparation for essay writing, to accessing and utilizing online and on-shelf library resources in English and Japanese, and accessing and using language materials and media sources provided in the ULC.
  • To provide students with a basic understanding of key facts, dates and themes in considering Japanese society, thought, and culture.
  • To provide an initial platform and elementary critical tools which will later enable UK-based students to analyse cultural problems and dynamics in and around contemporary Japan in an informed and self-aware manner

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of core dates and major events of modern and contemporary Japan
  • demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of major influences and topics such as: language systems, modernity and the Meiji restoration, Orientalism, tradition and mythology, and samurai and social class

Intellectual skills

• engage in informed analysis of core readings on the making of modern Japan  

• research, prepare, and carry out readings for essay writing  

• write informed exam-length essays 


Practical skills

• construct ideas and arguments from own research and apply knowledge to finding solutions to authentic real world problems. 

• have the skills to discover good sources independently  

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • demonstrate skills in searching for, compiling, and assessing materials for academic reports in English with appropriate organization of Japanese text inclusion 

       • demonstrate a practical and critical understanding of how to find, use, and approach media materials critically 

Employability skills

Project management: Students taking this unit will be learning to work towards deadlines, work independently and to manage their time effectively. Written communication: Students on this unit will develop their ability to communicate a coherent and critical argument of depth and complexity in written form and to write in a way that is lucid, precise and compelling.

Assessment methods

Assessment task  

Formative or Summative 


Weighting within unit (if summative) 

Citation and bibliography exercise 




Short essay 




Long essay 





Resit Assessment

Assessment task  




Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

  • Written feedback on bibliography exercise


  • Written feedback on two essays

Summative (and formative in the case of the short essay)

  • Oral feedback on class participation and available to all students during office hours and by arrangement


Recommended reading

Articles and Selected Chapters from:

  1. Sugimoto, Yoshio. An Introduction to Japanese Society. CUP.
  2. Stanlaw, James 2004, Japanese English: Language and Culture Contact.
  3. Ikegami, Eiko. 1996. ‘Shame and the Samurai: Institutions, Trustworthiness, and Autonomy in Elite Honor Culture’, in Social Research, Winter 2003, pages 1352-1377
  4. Swanson, Paul L. and Chilson, Clark (eds) 2006 Nanzan guide to Japanese religions.
  5. Vogel, Ezra. (1961) Japan’s New Middle Class: The Salary Man and His Family in a Tokyo Suburb.
  6. Ogasawara, Yuko. 1998. Office ladies and Salaried Men. University of California Press.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 40
Independent study hours
Independent study 160

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Peter Cave Unit coordinator
Sharon Kinsella Unit coordinator

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