MPhil in Japanese Studies

About the course

The MPhil in Japanese Studies is a two-year programme offered jointly by the Faculty of Oriental Studies and the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies that combines intensive language courses, three courses about Japan, research methods courses and a 30,000-word dissertation. Native speakers of Japanese take two additional courses about Japan.

The MPhil in Japanese Studies is designed as a two-year, six-term taught programme that comprises advanced research training focusing on developing language skills and on deepening your understanding of contemporary Japan.

It acts either as a foundation for those intending to seek employment working in Japan or with Japan, or as a preparation for further research on Japan on a doctoral programme at Oxford or elsewhere. It is taught by full-time members of the Nissan and Oriental Institutes and all the courses are designed for master's-level students.

The department does not teach Japanese for beginners but rather aims to develop your existing language skill to the level at which you can use it to conduct research about Japan. The department's courses aim to take you from a minimum of JLPT Level 3 up to and beyond Level 1.

There are eight components to the MPhil degree.

In the first year, you will take:

  • a core course on research methods
  • two courses about Japan chosen from the following options (NB not all options may be offered every year):
    • Modern Transnational History of Japan
    • Japanese Linguistics (The History and Structure of Japanese)
    • Modern Japanese Literature
    • Japanese Politics
    • Economy and Business of Japan
    • Japanese Social Anthropology
    • Sociology of Japanese Society
    • Classical Japanese Literature
    • Classical Japanese Language
    • Old (8th century) Japanese Texts
    • Texts in Modern Japanese Literature
    • Texts in Japanese Linguistics
    • Classical Japanese Texts
  • the Japanese language course (or a further course about Japan if you have native-speaker language competence).
In the second year of the course, you will go on to take:
  • one or more courses on research methods in the appropriate department
  • one course about Japan
  • the advanced Japanese language course or a further course about Japan
  • a thesis of 30,000 words.

All the courses about Japan have been designed for students at the graduate level and most students will be on the Japanese studies programme. Some courses may also be taken by students who are studying elsewhere in the university - for example, the course on Japanese politics is an option for both Japanese studies students and students on the MPhil in Politics (Comparative Government).

A range of assessment methods is used:

  • the research methods course is assessed on the basis of projects and tasks set in the course of teaching;
  • the language course is assessed through a combination of tests and quizzes set during the year and a final examination; and
  • the courses about Japan are assessed by a three-hour written examination in English in the chosen subjects.

Progression to the second year is conditional on satisfactory performance in the first year.

Graduate destinations

There are three typical career courses that the department’s graduates pursue. The first is further study on discipline-based graduate programmes either in Oxford, elsewhere in the UK or overseas, including the US and Japan.

The second career pattern of the department’s graduates is to work in Japan or with Japanese employers. Recent examples include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Fuso (Daimler Trucks) and Mitsui-Sumitomo Bank. Not only Japanese native speakers but also non-native-speaker graduates obtain employment in Japan or with Japanese companies outside Japan, making full use of their enhanced Japanese language skills and social science knowledge of Japan.

The third route is to professional careers with such companies as Accenture, KPMG, and Ernst & Young, in which the department’s alumni can utilise their presentation skills both in English and Japanese, and their critical thinking skills.

Other courses in this area

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2019-20

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in any subject or discipline, although it is preferable to have some social sciences or humanities background.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

For non-native speakers of Japanese, Japanese language proficiency equivalent to the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Proficiency Level N4 is required, and in general, an aptitude for Japanese language learning.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Publications

Publications are not required. 

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Research or working experience in Japan may be an advantage.
  • Preference may be given to those who have previously studied social sciences or humanities.
  • Evidence of training in the Japanese language is required.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

Oxford University IT Services runs courses on various computer programmes and can offer help and guidance.

Oxford University has an extensive library system and the Bodleian Japanese Library (BJL) is the main lending service within the University for the material you will require. A large part of its material can be borrowed for a limited period.  It is located within the same building as the Nissan Institute. A tutorial on using the library and IT facilities will be provided during the first weeks of the programme by the librarian of the BJL.

The Nissan Institute provides students with the use of a study room that has desk space, chairs.  Individual lockers are provided for storage  of student belongings.  Wireless internet access is available throughout the building.  The student room also contains a collection of Japanese and English books and dictionaries, DVDs and a DVD/VCR player, a TV and access to JSTV, the Japanese language television service. This room is available to all students on the MSc and MPhil courses during normal office hours.

The Nissan Institute Seminar runs weekly over the Michaelmas (autumn), Hilary (spring) and well into Trinity (summer) terms. Each week, speakers with a national and international reputation in Japanese studies are invited to present a paper about their current research. Attendance at the Nissan Institute Seminar is an integral part of the programme.

In addition, the Nissan Research Seminar provides an arena for graduate students working on Japan to meet weekly during Michaelmas and Trinity terms to exchange ideas about their work in progress. Master’s students are welcomed into this graduate research community. 

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

Further information about scholarships and funding opportunities available through this academic department and for this course (if applicable) can be found on the department's website. These may include Grand Union DTP ESRC studentships and the Ertegun Scholarship Programme. In order to be considered for these awards you will need to complete the scholarships section of the course application form and submit additional supporting material. The studentships’ webpage and the Ertegun Scholarships Programme website provide more details about the application process for each, as well as any eligibility criteria that may apply.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2019-20