MA Japanese Studies (Literature Pathway)


Read more about this programme on the institution's website

Programme Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

This programme covers both pre-modern and modern literature of Japan. It includes the study of literary works written in the original languages, as well as an introduction to literary theory.

This degree is designed either as an end qualification in itself or to prepare the student for more advanced graduate work (MPhil/PhD).

Incoming students will be expected to have completed the equivalent of the first two years of undergraduate language study at SOAS in Japanese.


A postgraduate degree in MA Japanese Literature from SOAS provides students with competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, history, cinema, politics, economics or law. Graduates of this programme will develop their ability to engage with and explore relationships between indigenous aesthetics of the region and contemporary literary theories. Some graduates leave SOAS to pursue careers directly related to their study area, while others have made use of the intellectual training for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems that contemporary societies now face.

Postgraduate students gain linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research or to seek professional and management careers in the business, public and charity sectors. They leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including written and oral communication skills; attention to detail; analytical and problem-solving skills; and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources. A postgraduate degree in Japanese Literature is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.


Students take 180 credits, 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. For students on a literature pathway, the dissertation must be on a subject in Japanese Literature. For students opting to take two language acquisition modules, only one of these can be from an introductory level. On certain programmes, only one language acquisition module is permitted.

All modules are subject to availability and, in some cases, the approval of the programme convenor.


For students on the Literature pathway, the dissertation must be on a subject in Japanese Literature.

  • Dissertation in Japanese Studies

Taught Component

Core Module

  • Japanese Traditional Drama (PG)
  • Modern Japanese Literature (PG)

Compulsory modules

Choose a minimum of 30 credits from the list below

  • Reading Pre-modern Japanese Texts 1 (PG)
  • Reading Pre-modern Japanese Texts 2 (PG)
  • Self, City and Sexuality in Modern Japanese Literature 1868-1945 (PG)
  • Writing from the Margins: Minority Voices in Modern Japanese Literature, 1945 to the Present (PG)

Optional Modules

You must select modules to the value of at least 30 credits from either the list of compulsory modules above or from the list below.


Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from the list below.

List of Modules (subject to availability)

List A: Japanese Related Modules

  • Modernity and Identity in Modern Japanese History 1868-1912
  • Nation and Empire in Modern Japanese History 1868-1945
  • Japanese Transnational Cinema: From Kurosawa to Asia Extreme and Studio Ghibli
  • Japanese Post-War Film Genres and the Avant-Garde
  • Censoring Japan: A Socio-Cultural History of Japanese Television
  • Identity and social relations in Japanese (PG)
  • Issues in Japanese language learning

List B: Literature options from East Asia Department (please note that some modules are taught in original language)

  • Traditional Chinese Literature in Translation
  • Classical Documentary Texts
  • Modern Documentary Texts
  • Reading Seminar: Masterpieces of Modern Chinese Literature
  • Reading Seminar: Modern Chinese Literature and the World
  • Literary Traditions and Culture of Korea (PG)
  • Trajectories of Modernity in Korean Literature (PG)
  • Theory and techniques of Comparative Literature

List C: Literature options from Languages, Cultures and Linguistics (please note that some modules are taught in original language)

  • Literatures in African languages
  • Postcolonial Theory and Practice
  • Social and Political Dimensions of Modern Arabic Literature
  • Social And Political Trends In 19th Century Turkish Literature
  • Selected Topics in 20th Century Turkish Literature
  • Modern Palestinian Literature (PG)
  • Arabic Poetry and Criticism
  • Hebrew Literature from the Arab World (PG)
  • Classical Ottoman Texts (PG)
  • Classical Persian Poetry: Texts and Traditions (PG)
  • Sanskrit Literature
  • Sanskrit Texts from the Hindu Tradition
  • Literatures of South Asia
  • Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters)
  • War, Revolution and Independence in South East Asia Literatures in Translation (Masters)
  • The Urban/Rural Divide in South East Asian Literature
  • English Literatures of South East Asia
  • Under Western Eyes: European Writings on South East Asia (PG)

List D: Language modules

  • Japanese 1 A (PG)
  • Japanese 1 B (PG)
  • Japanese 2 (PG)
  • Japanese 3 (PG)
  • Japanese 4 (PG)
  • Japanese 5 (PG)
  • Practical Translation: Japanese into English
  • Practical Translation: English into Japanese
  • Korean 1 A (PG)
  • Korean 1 B (PG)
  • Korean 2 (PG)
  • Intermediate Korean (PG)
  • Chinese 1 A (PG)
  • Chinese 1 B (PG)
  • Chinese 2 (PG)
  • Chinese 3 (PG)
  • Practical Translation: Chinese to English
  • Practical Translation: English to Chinese

List E: Non-literature modules (Korea/East Asia related)

  • Anthropology and Sociology
    • Culture and Society of Japan
  • Art
    • Shogunal Iconography in the Edo Period
    • Popular Practice in the Edo Period Arts
  • History
    • The Making of Modern Korea, 1864-1953
    • The Two Koreas since 1953 (PG)
  • Management
    • Management in Japan I
    • Management in Japan II
  • Music
    • Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters)
    • Musical Traditions of East Asia (Masters)
  • Politics
    • International politics of East Asia
    • Northeast Asian politics: Japan, Korea and Taiwan
    • Japan Unravelled
  • Religion
    • Religious Practice in Japan: Texts, Rituals and Believers
    • East Asian Buddhist Thought
  • Culture/Film/Media
    • Modern Chinese Film and Theatre (PG)
    • Modern Film from Taiwan and the Chinese Diaspora (PG)

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Admissions and Applications

You can apply for this course via the online application form.

We aim to assess a complete application and provide a decision within a 5-week time frame. Overseas students who require a Tier 4 visa and wish to join SOAS should bear in mind visa applications can take several weeks, so you should apply as soon as possible.

Consideration of Application

The whole application, including transcript and references, is considered before a decision is reached. You are therefore advised to submit a complete application including references and transcript (where required). An incomplete application will add considerable delays to the decision-making process.

Students will receive an acknowledgement of their application. Each application is carefully considered and although we try and respond as quickly as possible, we do ask that students should expect to receive a response within five weeks of receipt.

Candidates who are available in the United Kingdom may be called for an interview. The absence of academic members of staff (or instance on study leave) may affect the timing of decisions.

Entry Requirements

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent).

English Language Entry Requirements

You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English test.

International students

For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.

If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason, we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic test as the test of first resort.

Last updated Nov 2019

About the School

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues. Read Less
London , Singapore + 1 More Less