MA Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies

Full Time
Degree of Master of Arts


UEA is the only university in the UK to launch a new program in Japanese Studies in recent years. With Japan-expertise in various Schools of the University and the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, and the collections of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, Norwich is focusing its resources to become a new leading hub for research about Japan, unique to the UK and Europe.

"Understanding Japan is understanding a key player in the global politics, culture, and economy of today and tomorrow."

In their words

Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer, Lecturer in Japanese Arts and Cultures

"Gain an in-depth interdisciplinary understanding of what puts the cool into Japan”

In their words

Simon Kaner, Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia and Head of the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage at the Sainsbury Institute

Are you curious about Japan? Would you like to know more about its place in the world and its cultural identity? Whether you are already familiar with some aspects of Japanese culture or not, the MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies will give you a solid grounding in the study of the country’s art, literature, history, and politics. Looking at a variety of topics through the lens of Japan will also open for you new ways of engaging with our globalised world. You’ll learn about a variety of research methods from several humanities disciplines and benefit from UEA’s expertise on Japan, equipping you with the tools to actively participate in shaping the vibrant field of Japanese Studies in the future.
Please note: knowledge of the Japanese language is not a requirement for this course.


The MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies responds to our contemporary moment in which globalisation and future-oriented concerns put Japan at the centre of debates on urgent issues such as technology and digital innovation, population change, arts and politics, and health and ageing.

Based in Norwich, one of the UK’s most rapidly growing research hubs of Japanese Studies, this course will give you access to resources across several institutions located here. The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures will introduce you to its world-class research and outreach program on Japanese visual cultures; experts on Japan from across the UEA faculty will share their experience and disciplinary insights; and the unique collection of Japanese art and archaeology at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts will offer an opportunity for direct contact with Japan’s art and material culture. Drawing on the synergies between these institutions and their resources, this course offers you an outstanding combination of expert knowledge, active research networks, and important primary sources, preparing you for a successful and exciting global career.

This course embodies UEA’s vision for borderless interdisciplinary inquiry and positions Japanese Studies at the nexus of the major humanities disciplines including literature, history, politics, and art. How do contemporary experiences of migration and alienation reverberate in Japan’s literature? What impact will the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have on international relations? How do popular Japanese art forms such as manga find their way into museums? Which historical issues dominate Japan’s regional politics and relations with its neighbours? When did Japan become modern and how?

World-leading experts in Japanese Studies will be working together with you to answer these questions and encourage you to come up with your own.  

Course Structure

You can take the MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies as either a one-year full-time or two-year part-time course.

We begin with our year-long core module, Researching Japan. This is an important introduction to the fundamental writings and debates in Japanese studies across the history of the field, equipping you with the tools to actively participate in its future direction. You will also cover the history of ideas and key writings about Japan, and be encouraged to think critically about the direction of contemporary Japanese studies more broadly.

In the autumn and spring semesters, you will choose three modules from a range of optional modules, focusing on the specific areas of Japanese studies that interest you.

Towards the end of your second semester you will focus on your dissertation. This is your chance to pursue an area of specialist study of your choice, investigating a specific academic methodology or topic. You’ll get advice from two members of staff as supervisors to support you in researching and writing up your dissertation. The dissertation module is supported by the core module, helping you to develop a range of transferrable skills for the workplace, future research, or doctoral-level study.

Teaching and Learning

You’ll be taught by a leading team of research-active academic staff who bring diverse disciplinary perspectives to the study of Japan. They have particular strengths in Japanese arts, cultures, and heritage, Japanese politics and international relations, Japanese film, media, anime, and manga, gender in Japan, and Japanese history from the early modern era to the present day

Our researchers have explored many different themes using a variety of approaches and methods – from experimental art movements to archaeology, and from wartime culture to post-war social change. At UEA and the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, academics across the arts, humanities, and social sciences have published influential work on Japanese Studies.

You will be mainly taught through lectures and seminars. You’ll usually spend around eight hours a week (for full time students) in seminars, which will incorporate small and whole group working. As part of your core module on Researching Japan, you’ll attend presentations from staff and visiting researchers at the Sainsbury Institute public lecture series, academic workshop events, and the Center for Japanese Studies seminar series, allowing you to discuss ideas in development. And you’ll have the opportunity to attend additional lectures from visiting speakers addressing themes in any area of study relevant to your interests at UEA.

Independent Study

Working independently is an important aspect of study at Master’s level. You’ll do preparatory reading for each seminar as well as working towards your coursework. You’ll bring your own areas of interest to every module and have the opportunity to define your focus. In the dissertation, you will have the opportunity to focus on a subject area that you’re passionate about and potentially see a career path within. You’ll also have access to the world leading Lisa Sainsbury Library at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.


Your achievement on the MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies will be assessed by coursework rather than exams. This will include essays, research proposals, and your final dissertation. In all your modules you’ll get frequent formative feedback from your tutors – helping you to develop your knowledge and skills before producing summative work.

After the course

After completing the MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies, you will have an in-depth understanding of the field of Japanese Studies and will be able to demonstrate critical engagement with key issues and topics. You’ll be well prepared for careers in research, international relations or organisations, policy, NGOs, and the public sector.

If you’re interested in further study towards a PhD, you’ll be well prepared for sustained research into Japanese Studies or art history, film and media studies, history, or politics and international relations. Our MA will ensure that you’re fully equipped with the theoretical and practical research skills necessary for advanced level study.

Career destinations

  • Academic research (PhD)
  • Research roles
  • Public sector roles
  • Culture industries, including museum sector
  • Charity sector roles

Course related costs

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of course-related costs.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 180 credits:

Name Code Credits


The dissertation is an opportunity to pursue an area of specialist study on a specific academic methodology or topic. Students will be assigned two members of staff as supervisors to advise on research and writing. The dissertation module is supported by the core module, allowing students to develop a range of transferable skills for the workplace, future research, or doctoral-level study. Students will pursue and individual research project, drawing on knowledge gained on other modules in the MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies and acquiring an in-depth knowledge of a more specialist area of research.




Japanese art history is a dynamic and innovative research field, exemplary within the context of local art histories. This intellectual excellence can be attributed to the unique academic constellation that informs research on Japanese art, concentrated around two main fields: art history and areas studies. Japanese art scholarship thus benefits from the synergies of employing both visual and regional expertise. In particular, through its strong relation to area studies, art history of Japan is drawn to interdisciplinary cooperation and dialogue. This course is designed to make students aware of the benefits and possibilities of exploring Japanese art from an interdisciplinary standpoint, and to help them identify research subjects that appeal to the larger academic audiences. Focusing on art history's connections with other research fields, from literature studies to environmental studies, this module is based on a series of case studies from pre-modern and modern Japanese art, with each session dedicated to art history's relation to a specific discipline. This integrated approach will encourage interdisciplinary discussion and collaborations, while addressing visual material in a new and innovative way. This course brings together academic expertise of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities, and visual resources in the collection of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.







This module will provide an introduction to research skills and resources necessary for undertaking postgraduate research about Japan. The module will be convened by Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) and organised with the support of the Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS), located in the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities (IIH). This compulsory core module will include units offered by all Japan-related UEA and SISJAC academic staff. There will be a significant amount of teaching time devoted to dissertation preparation. Each week is organized around a key text, theory, or movement in Japanese studies. Significant works in the field will provide case studies around which we develop our understanding of the opportunities offered by interdisciplinary engagement with Japan.




The module looks at the history of China and Japan from the mid-19th century to the present day. You'll cover the attempts at modernisation, conflict between the two nations, their relationships with the Asian region and the United States. You'll also investigate their contrasting attempts to develop in the post-war period. In addition, you'll assess their current policies and the issues of importance to China and Japan in the 21st century, and explore whether they can move beyond the legacy of this difficult history.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

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Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Arts or Humanities
  • Degree Classification Bachelors (Hons) degree - 2.1 or equivalent

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 58 (minimum 42 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact

Special Entry Requirements

This course's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the university directly for further information.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees for the academic year 2020/21 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,850
  • International Students: £16,400

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

Living Expenses

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.


The Faculty of Arts and Humanities has a number of Scholarships and Awards on offer. For further information relevant to Language and Communication Studies, please click here.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

To apply please use our online application form.


If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515