University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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Japanese Studies

The Department of Japanese Studies is part of the School of Languages and Cultures (SLC).

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's degree. For those who want a more comprehensive program, a major is available. A major in Japanese Studies is made up of senior 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 10 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.

Pathways through the major

A major in Japanese Studies requires at least 36 senior credit points, including 24 credit points from language and 12 credit points from culture units of study with at least 6 credit points from 3000 level units of study.

The units of study for the major can be found in the unit of study table for Japanese Studies. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Entry levels into language units of study

Language units are divided into 10 levels, from Japanese 1 to Japanese 10 and are taken in succession. Language entry points for first year are normally as follows:

Level of knowledge of the language Entry level unit of study
Students with no assumed knowledge JPNS1611 Japanese 1
65% or above in HSC Japanese Beginners, or 70% or below in HSC Japanese Continuers (or equivalent with departmental permission) JPNS2611 Japanese 3
HSC Japanese Extension or more than 70% in HSC Japanese Continuers (or equivalent with departmental permission) JPNS2621 Japanese 5

If you do not meet the standard entry criteria, you will need to consult with the department.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

You will need to complete four senior language units of study for a major in Japanese Studies. For example, if you begin at Japanese 3, the language units you will complete in your major will be: Japanese 3, 4, 5, 6

You will need to add to this sequence at least two culture units focused on a specific aspect of Japanese society, culture, literature, or history. These culture units are closely associated with the language units, so that each unit is available only to students who have reached a specific language level.

Some studies units currently offered, and their appropriate language levels, are:

  • JPNS2670 Love and Death in Japanese Novels, for Japanese 5 – 6
  • JPNS2672 Japanese Media and Popular Culture, for Japanese 5 – 6
  • JPNS3650 Japanese Language and Identity, for Japanese 5 – 6
  • JPNS3673 Japanese Society, for Japanese 7 – 10
  • JPNS3002 Historical Texts and Cultures of Japan 7- 10
  • JPNS3676 Monsters and Ghosts : Japanese Fantasy and SF 7-10

If you finish your study of language units at Japanese 6 (JPNS2622), one of your two culture units must be JPNS3650 Japanese Language and Identity, the only 3000 level unit open to students who are doing Japanese 6.


Admission into the honours program requires completion of 48 senior credit points with an average of 70 percent or above. This includes completion of the major plus 12 additional senior credit points including ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies. You may include one 6 credit point Japan-related Asian Studies unit of study.

Honours students are required to enrol in all four generic units of study: JPNS4011, JPNS4012, JPNS4013, JPNS4014. An honours year is comprised of 40 percent coursework and 60 percent thesis. Coursework consists of two specific 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 during Orientation Week regarding the coursework.

Contact/further information

Department website:

Chair of Department: Dr Olivier Ansart,
Brennan MacCallum Building, Room 549
Phone: +61 2 9351 4306;
Fax: +61 2 9351 2319;

Administrative enquiries should be directed to the School of Languages and Cultures by phone: +61 2 9351 2869; fax: +61 9351 2319; email:

Staff offices and Japanese Studies notice boards are located on level 5 of the Brennan MacCallum Building (A18).