University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 Archive

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Japanese Studies

About the major

Preparing students to be active participants in a multicultural world, the Department of Japanese Studies offers training in the Japanese language, as well as in the Japanese culture. If you just want to learn for a semester or two, you can take units of study as electives in your bachelor degree. For those who want a more comprehensive program, a major or minor is available. A major in Japanese Studies is made up of units in Japanese language and culture units of study. Culture units use Japanese materials to present various aspects of ancient to contemporary Japan ranging across disciplines from history and literature to popular culture.

A system of prerequisites ensures that units of study are taken in order, from easier units to the more difficult, across ten levels of language. The sequence will end at different levels depending on the entry point. Even if you have no previous knowledge of the language – ending your major at the sixth level of Japanese – you will gain basic literacy in Japanese and the ability to express yourself in everyday situations. If you finish your major at the highest level, you will be quite fluent.

Requirements for completion

The Japanese Studies major and minor are available via the pathways indicated below.

Students will follow the appropriate pathway specified in the unit of study tables, based on their individual language level*. Students completing any of the pathways below will be awarded a major or minor in Japanese Studies.

* Appropriate language units are determined either by language level and grade therein achieved in Higher School Certificate (as listed in the pathways linked above) or International Baccalaureate, and/or by one-on-one interviews prior to commencement. If you are unsure of your language level or which pathway is appropriate for you, please contact the Department for advice.

Please note: A ‘gap’ year after Year 12 does not normally affect placement.

Learning outcomes
No. Learning outcome
1 Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively in the Japanese language in a wide range of contexts.
2 Demonstrate an ability to analyse a variety of cultural practices in Japanese society.
3 Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively and openly in intercultural and interdisciplinary settings to achieve high quality results.
4 Apply language skills, sociocultural knowledge and critical thinking skills gained from Japanese Studies to offer solutions to problems encountered in new contexts.
5 Apply appropriate ethical standards to academic research and practice.
6 Demonstrate the skills to access and evaluate primary and secondary sources to conduct research on contemporary Japanese society.
7 Develop communication and digital literacy skills that are transferable to other disciplines and professional settings.
Advanced coursework

The Bachelor of Advanced Studies in SLC 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 and 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 Japanese Studies advanced coursework units of study page.


An honours year comprises 40% coursework and 60% thesis. Coursework consists of two Asian Studies honours seminar units of study. The thesis is an 18,000-20,000 word original piece of research and writing using English and Japanese language sources appropriate to the student's level of Japanese language proficiency.

Intending honours students must consult the department honours coordinator or chair of department to discuss their prospective topic and potential supervisor.

Honours admission requirements

Admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Japanese Studies with an average of 70% or above, including ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies.

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 Japanese Studies honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

More information and current contact details for academic coordinators can be found at: