University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 Archive

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Asian Studies

About the major

Asia is home to the world's fastest growing economies and the largest cities. The dynamic cultures of the region shape the modern world while boasting centuries of tradition. In the Asian Studies Department, we aim to give students the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the 'Asian Century' by offering units that examine major cultural, historical, social and political issues.

Our curriculum draws on the expertise of academics from the departments of Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean and Indian Subcontinental Studies to explore a broad range of country-specific and trans-national themes.

These include such topics as urbanism and technology, social structure and gender, development, the environment, literature and ethnicity, and the region’s major religions and philosophies (particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam). Students can critically examine modern social trends and popular culture (anime, manga, cinema, and K-Pop) alongside such phenomena as social movements, revolution, and democracy. The aim is to develop cultural and social literacy that deepens understanding and broadens career possibilities.

Asian Studies units are taught in English. Many of our students are engaged in Asian Studies as a major or minor to complement and enhance their study of an Asian language. It is also possible to major in both Asian Studies and an Asian language. High performing students can specialise by pursuing honours or a postgraduate research degree that focuses on a specific topic of their choosing.

Requirements for completion

The Asian Studies major and minor requirements are listed in the Asian Studies unit of study table.

Learning outcomes

No. Learning outcome
1 Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of Asia's major regions, cultures and identities.
2 Critically analyse different perspectives on Asian societies and cultures, and formulate arguments and hypotheses to offer alternative perspectives.
3 Demonstrate the skills to access and evaluate primary and secondary sources to conduct research in Asian Studies.
4 Demonstrate the capability to construct and defend valid arguments employing a range of methods from Asian Studies.
5 Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively and openly in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary settings to achieve high quality results.
6 Make use of digital technology to persuasively communicate academically sound and original ideas in Asian Studies.
7 Apply appropriate professional and ethical standards to academic research and inquiry in Asian Studies.

Advanced coursework

The Bachelor of Advanced Studies through the School of Language and Cultures prepares students to actively engage in the complex and culturally diverse contemporary world. Students will utilise linguistic and methodological skills developed in their previous studies to develop their knowledge of institutions, practices and ideas that permeate different cultures in the local and global context. They will be offered opportunities to participate in projects on translation, acculturation and self-reflexivity or to examine textual and social real-world problems related to topics which include translation, migration studies, cultural diversity and social integration.

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the Asian Studies advanced coursework units of study page.


The honours program consists of two seminars and an 18,000-20,000 word thesis on a topic of the student’s interest. As with the undergraduate Asian Studies major, all units and the thesis will be in English. However, we encourage students with Asian-language proficiency to utilise sources in that language for their thesis research.

Honours admission requirements

Admission to Honours is accomplished via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Asian Studies with an average of 70 percent or above.

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Asian Studies honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

More information and current contact details for academic coordinators can be found at:
Department of Asian Studies
School of Language and Cultures