Japanese Studies

BA (Hons)

UCAS code: T200

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 4 years

Part time: up to 8 years

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Education, Humanities and Languages

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Take our Japanese Studies degree and you'll truly discover Japan. Immerse yourself in the language and culture of a country with rich traditions and vibrant modern life. And find out for yourself that there’s more to this incredible country than cherry blossoms, bullet trains and sushi.

Mastering the language is a key part of the course. Our language programme, designed for complete and near-beginners, will help you learn to read and write kanji and communicate effectively. Teaching from native and fluent non-native speakers will help you gain confidence and overcome any challenges you face. You’ll also be able to take advantage of our unique Japanese room.

You’ll spend your third year at a university in Japan. While learning about the culture first hand, you’ll also return with superior Japanese language skills. While you’re away, you can turn to us whenever you need support.

We’ll make sure you meet recruiters and hear about opportunities in industries such as tourism and translation. Your language skills and cultural insight will be sought after by employers globally.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Exciting career paths

    You’ll graduate ready to kickstart a career in areas such as education, tourism and translation.

  • Diverse study

    You’ll be able to discover and shape your interests as you study a wide range of subjects, from history to manga and anime. You’ll explore contemporary topics like gender roles and the experience of minorities in Japan.

  • Innovative language learning

    Become a skilled and fluent Japanese speaker through our innovative language programme.

  • Confident communicator

    Sharpen your language skills and become a bridge between 2 cultures.

  • Free language courses

    Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

  • Study abroad

    Immerse yourself in everyday life in Japan, use Japanese in real-life situations, and experience the culture first-hand.

Course details

Course structure

We'll begin with an introduction to Japan and its language. You'll explore the country’s geography, history and society, and learn how culture and language intersect.

We’ll start with the basics of the language, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a total beginner. In your first year we’ll focus on the Japanese writing system and developing a systematic knowledge of kanji. We’ll develop your knowledge of grammar and practise listening, speaking and writing.

As you become more confident in communicating, we’ll look at Japanese society and identity art forms old and new, and the relationship between language and culture. This will prepare you for spending a year in Japan.

After your year in Japan, you’ll continue to hone your language skills in your final year, looking at a variety of texts and exploring translation between Japanese and English. You’ll have the chance to dig deeper into the topics that interest you such as anthropology, the arts and the relationship between Japan and the West. Maybe you’ll look in-depth at Japanese cinema, or explore cultural identity and conflict.

Japanese Studies

Learning and teaching

This course will help you gain a structured knowledge of grammar, reading and writing skills, as well as developing your spoken fluency in Japanese. You will also gain a broad understanding of Japanese culture.

Our Japanese Room, designed by a Japanese craftsman, is a perfect replica of a Japanese interior. This unique space is used for tutorials and allows you to enjoy and experience Japanese culture on campus.

You will also benefit from:

  • small class sizes
  • language classes taught by native and fluent speakers
  • access to the latest e-learning skills
  • Oxford Brookes’ own Japanese graded reading materials, Let’s Read Japanese

You can learn more about the Japanese language and culture experts who will teach you by exploring our staff profiles.


Assessment methods vary from module to module.

Language module assessments consist of:

  • 70% regular in-class tests and portfolio completion at home
  • 30% final examination.

Content module assessments are normally 100% coursework. They include:

  • essays
  • small research projects
  • oral presentations
  • in-class tests.

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Essential Japanology

    In this module, you’ll gain a strong understanding of Japan and the Japanese language. You’ll gain a broad knowledge of Japan’s geography, history, language, working life, religion, arts and culture. You’ll survey these topics from a variety of perspectives, and understand core themes and concepts. You’ll highlight key areas for study, that you’ll explore in greater depth in your upcoming modules.

  • Japanese 1A

    In this module, you’ll go from knowing almost no Japanese to developing an effective knowledge of the language. As a beginner or near-beginner, you’ll gain good skills in speaking and writing, as well as reading and listening in the language. You’ll gain unique skills for your future career as you work constructively in teams, meet deadlines effectively and use Japanese creatively and precisely for different audiences.

  • Japanese 1B

    In this module, you’ll gain a strong grasp of Japanese language skills. As someone with some knowledge of the Japanese language, you’ll gain good skills in speaking and writing, as well as reading and listening in the language. You’ll gain unique skills for your future career as you work constructively in teams, meet deadlines effectively and use Japanese creatively and precisely for different audiences. 

  • Japanese 2A

    In this module, you’ll go from strength to strength in your grasp of Japanese. You’ll increase your repertoire of grammar and improve your speaking and writing, reaching an upper beginner’s level. You’ll gain key teamwork skills as you work with your peers to meet deadlines effectively, giving you a strong grounding for your future career. 

  • Japanese 2B

    Continuing on from Japanese 2A, you will strengthen your language skills, giving you the confidence and competencies essential to succeeding in your year abroad. You’ll also explore the relationship between culture and language, and how some expressions and language use are underpinned by social and cultural values. 

  • Japanese Reading and Writing 1A

    In this module you will acquire reading and writing skills at the beginners’ level. You will learn the Japanese writing system, especially focusing on developing a systematic knowledge of kanji as well as general reading and writing skills.

  • Japanese Reading and Writing 1B

    You will continue working on the reading and writing skills you acquired in Japanese Reading and Writing 1A. By the end of the year, you will be able to read and write 180 characters and recognise over 360 compounds using these characters.

Optional modules

Understanding Languages and Translation

An introduction to the key areas of language study that underpin the theory and practice of translation.

Introduction to Japanese Culture and Society

In this module, you'll use anthropological perspectives to make an in-depth investigation of contemporary life in Japan. You'll cover factors and topics that affect Japanese everyday life such as:

  • child rearing 
  • education and early socialization
  • households, marriage and kinship
  • work and employment
  • gender and sexuality
  • religion and ritual
  • immigration and diversity 
  • Japanese popular culture 
  • and the globalization of Japanese culture. 

This will give you a good base of knowledge for taking more advanced modules on the anthropology of Japan in years 2 and 3.

Learning Japanese through J-Pop

Immerse yourself in J-Pop and develop your Japanese grammar and usage skills. You'll explore the J-Pop music genre that originated in the early 1990s.

You'll experience the look and sound of J-Pop, through video, live recordings and online content. You'll then use digital tools to look at the origins and meaning of J-Pop songs. Including artist and fan communities. While building a deep understanding of the history and culture of Japanese popular music



Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Japanese Reading and Writing 2A

    This module focuses on the Japanese writing system, especially focusing on developing kanji learning as well as general reading and writing skills. You will learn to write 180 new kanji, and to recognise 360 compounds using those kanji. In addition, you will work on developing your reading comprehension skills to prepare you for reading a variety of texts during their Year Abroad. You will also learn to write in various writing styles.

  • Japanese Reading and Writing 2B

    Continuing on from Reading and Writing 2A, you will learn to write an additional 170 new kanji, and to recognise 340 more compounds using those kanji. In addition, you will develop deeper reading comprehension skills to prepare you for reading a variety of texts during your Year Abroad. You will also continue to work with a variety of topics and writing styles.

Optional modules

Elements of the Japanese Language

In this module, you’ll discuss facts about the Japanese language, helping you improve your Japanese language knowledge. You discuss topics from social and geographic language variation, to the relationship between language and culture, and grammatical analysis. You’ll deepen your knowledge of how language works in use and conversation, and you’ll understand the relationship between language and society.

Classical Arts of Japan

In this module, you’ll explore traditional Japanese arts. You’ll learn to understand and appreciate the style and techniques of art forms such as: 

  • Ukiyo-e (wood-block prints and paintings)
  • Haiku (famously brief poetic form)
  • Kabuki (classical dance-drama)
  • Ikebana (the art of flower arranging)

You’ll also gain core critical skills for work as you address key issues such as:

  • the representation of gender and sexuality
  • class issues 
  • religious and philosophical assumptions

You’ll gain a broad knowledge of the historical and social contexts of these arts in Japan. You’ll explore individual works in greater depth, as you analyse how the arts relate to wider Japanese culture.

English Language Teaching to Adults

Do you dream of working as an English language teacher? Do you want to help adult learners grasp the English language? In this module, you’ll get to grips with English language teaching. You’ll gain a strong knowledge of teaching English, and essential skills in effective language teaching. You’ll also develop key practical skills for teaching English to adult learners. If you take this course, you’ll be able to apply to British Study Centres Oxford to complete your teaching practice, and acquire a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). This is recognised by Cambridge Assessment as a pre-service training qualification.

Manga, Anime and Contemporary Japanese Cinema

In this module, you’ll investigate Japanese popular culture through live-action cinema, manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animated films). You’ll understand how these media have developed in Japan, how they are presented and received in Japanese culture and how they reflect social and cultural issues. You’ll gain core analytical skills as you examine their narrative and stylistic themes, and what they can tell us about the social, political and cultural issues of late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century Japan.

The Making of Modern Japan

How did Japan rise from a feudal nation with few resources, to the world’s third largest economy? In this module, you’ll follow the making of modern Japan. You’ll explore Japan’s response to western colonialism and empire-building, and its own colonialist programmes. You’ll examine the social, economic and political changes of this period through investigating primary sources. You’ll also follow these changes through the works of both Western and Japanese scholars (in translation). You’ll gain core research skills to help you succeed in your degree, as you consider the tools and methods we need to study Japan, the world and history. 

Personhood, Gender and the Body in Contemporary Japan

From tattooed gangsters and drag queens to salarymen and hostesses, how does gender and the body affect Japanese society? In this module, you’ll question your assumptions about femininity and masculinity, and gain core critical skills as you explore topics such as: 

  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • the ethics of organ donation
  • abortion
  • end of life care
  • martial arts
  • religious practice.

You’ll explore the topics that fascinate you in greater depth, through:

  • student-led seminars
  • group work
  • a research essay.

Japanese Oral Skills

In this module, you’ll accelerate your success in your placement year, as you gain the skills you need to communicate effectively in Japanese. You’ll gain key skills in presenting to an audience, as well as expressing your ideas to someone at an upper beginner’s level. You’ll also develop a deeper understanding of how communication works, transforming you into a skillful communicator of Japanese. 

Independent Study in Japanese

You’ll be able to focus in depth on a study area that you’ll discuss with your supervisor. You’ll exercise your research skills and carry out an independent academic project that will help you develop your critical reflection and academic writing skills.

Year 3 (placement year)

Compulsory modules

  • Placement year

    You’ll spend a year in Japan, soaking up the culture and improving your language skills through wide interaction with native Japanese speakers. You’ll attend one of our partner universities in Japan.

  • Language Studies in Japan

    In this module, you’ll accelerate your Japanese language skills with direct access to the country and its native speakers. You’ll increase your listening, reading and interpretation skills in Japanese, while gaining first-hand knowledge of the cultures, communities and societies which use Japanese.

  • Academic Studies in Japan

    This module gives you the chance to reflect on the cultural modules you studied at your university in Japan. You’ll expand your analytical skills for your degree and future career, as you consider the intercultural issues you encountered while abroad, how you negotiated them and your language learning in general.

  • Autonomous Learning in Japan

    You’ll spend a year in Japan, soaking up the culture and improving your language skills through wide interaction with native Japanese speakers. You’ll attend one of our partner universities in Japan. 

Year 4

Compulsory modules

  • Japanese 4

    In this module, you’ll gain excellent skills in intermediate to advanced Japanese. You’ll dig into a variety of Japanese texts, audio, and video, covering genres such as essays and reports. You’ll gain knowledge on specific topics and enhance your language skills. The module will also help you prepare for future employment and to become an active citizen in the world.

  • Japan: Myth and Reality

    In this module, you’ll dive into Western discourses on ‘Japan’ and ‘the Japanese’. You’ll gain core critical skills as you consider how we perceive Japan, and the ideas we attach to it. You’ll dig into the history of Western perceptions of Japan, and also consider the ways Japan looks at itself. 

Optional modules

Japanese Cinema and Modern History

In this module, you’ll put classic Japanese cinema in the spotlight, and get to grips with its social and historical context. You’ll explore films from one of the most tumultuous and transformative eras in Japanese history, and you’ll link them to social and political developments in Japan during the twentieth century. You’ll also develop excellent critical skills as you consider films in the context of debates around the meaning and significance of classical Japanese cinema.

Role in Japanese Language

You will explore the expression of different identities through Japanese. In particular, you’ll look at “role language” or yakuwarigo. Which features in fiction and is used to portray certain attributes such as an old man, a noble woman or a warrior.

You will engage with examples of Japanese role language and learn to develop your skills to conduct your own research. You'll also look at “character language” and what happens in translation. You will gain a deep understanding on the use and effects of role/character language in Japanese.  Building key knowledge on the expression of different identities in Japanese.

Japanese Literary Texts

In this module you will develop your ability to engage with authentic Japanese texts at an advanced level. You will learn to navigate a variety of literary writing styles as you are introduced to literary texts from different periods of Japanese history, and you will acquire a deeper understanding of the historic and cultural context in which these works were written. You will learn to critically analyse the texts you read. 

Japanese Translation: Theory and practice

In this module, you’ll get to grips with key concepts in translation and analyse different types of translation in an array of texts. You’ll explore how meaning is expressed through words and how it differs from language to language.

You’ll dig into examples of translation, and learn how to translate from Japanese into English and from English into Japanese. You’ll gain the core skills to succeed as a language specialist as you explore the linguistic differences between Japanese and English, and how they affect translation.

Tandem Language Learning

In this module, you’ll build fantastic teamwork skills for your career, and accelerate your knowledge of the Japanese language. You’ll come together as a mixture of native Japanese and English speakers, and work in groups to improve your language skills, and learn more about each other’s cultures. You’ll increase your skills in oral communication, allowing you to speak in Japanese on topics from culture and politics, to life in the UK or Japan. You’ll gain critical knowledge of your own language development as you set goals to improve your language skills, and support each-other as students. 

Researching Cross-cultural Experiences

In this module, you’ll gain excellent skills for your degree, as you analyse and present your experiences of your year abroad. You’ll gain core critical skills for your degree, as you analyse your time living in a different culture, and the wider cross-cultural experiences of individuals or groups. You’ll do independent research on an aspect of the country you lived in that fascinates you. You’ll also present the outcomes of your research at a mock academic conference, giving you vital skills for work.

Minorities and Marginality in Contemporary Japan

What does it mean to be Japanese? We often assume that the Japanese are “one people”, but in this module, you’ll meet Japan’s ethnic minorities and marginalised groups. You’ll learn about their experiences - both historically and today. You’ll gain key analytical skills as you relate minorities and marginalisation in Japan to broader concerns with:

  • ethnic and cultural identity
  • class structure
  • marginalisation and precarity in the workforce experienced by younger people
  • national identity
  • hybridity in cultures
  • migration and post-colonialism
  • Indigenous rights.

Independent Study in Japanese Studies

Focus in depth on a topic that you’ll discuss with your supervisor. You’ll choose between an academic research project, a work-based project with a short-term working experience, or a work-related project such as organising an event to bring new ideas to people.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


With top communication and interpersonal skills, you’ll stand out in the global job market. Your confidence presenting information and working as part of a team and your critical thinking skills will make you the perfect fit for the international workplace.

As a graduate, you’ll find roles in global professions such as tourism, international management and the media, as well as fields such as translation or language teaching.

Our graduates have secured roles at the Japanese Embassy, the Japan Foundation, and within Japanese businesses such as All Nippon Airways, So-net Media Networks and Daiwa House Group.

Student profiles

Our Staff

Dr Kerri Russell

Kerri’s research is mainly concerned with the origins and development of the Japonic language family, which consists of the varieties of Japanese spoken in Japan and the Ryukyuan islands. She has also worked on Ainu, Middle Korean, and several Altaic languages spoken in East Asia.

Read more about Kerri

Entry requirements

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29


Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27


Further offer details

Applications are also welcomed for consideration from applicants with European qualifications, international qualifications or recognised foundation courses. For advice on eligibility please contact Admissions: admissions@brookes.ac.uk

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400


Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.