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Cambridge Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) Students and Applicants

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    (Original post by Miam!)
    And essays... Well there are two history lectures per week, in all 3 terms. Those lectures are shared with the 1st year Chinese students as the paper is "an introduction to the history of east asia". It's really broad and not my favorite paper, but that's because I've always preferred languages over history. The material is very interesting but I think they're being a bit overambitious for a paper that's only 20% of your exams. And you have to write two or three essays per term.
    Does that mean you don't have supervisions...?

    Hope JP1 went well
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    ^o) ? Of course we have supervisions. One for each essay and generally one "recap" grammar supervision at the en of term... I think we don't have more because the grammar lectures are pretty much like supervisions anyway - you have to prepare work, and since it's such a small group, you are encouraged to ask questions and are regularly put on the spot.

    Then, about the first year exams not counting... I've never understood what people mean by that. They count in the sense that you get a classmark and a mark in each paper, and that if you fail or get a third you may not be let into the 2nd year. They don't count in the sense that they're not averaged with your 2nd and your 4th year to produce an average mark that figures on your degree. On the degree certificate you get when you graduate, it will only say only what classmark you got in your finals. But if you apply to internships and year abroad stuff during your studies, you will only have your first and second year results to show...

    This is why renaming prelims "Part IA" doesn't change a thing. Just sounds more important, but prelims or not you do sit real exams in your first year (I'm not sure they're even goint to change anything at all in the first year exams next year!)

    And don't worry dominiclmorris, the course is designed for complete beginners, so if you are hazy on parts of the A level syllabus, you'll get the occasion to revise them! I did mostly revision in the first term, and a bit in the 2nd term. But I also found that the grammar points I had covered in school were explained in much more depth in the textbook. Rather than just giving you a construction and its beasic meaning, they do try to explain all the implications and exceptions when you can't use it. (note that I didn't do A-level though since I went to school in France)

    As for saying that A level will be covered in the first term... Very doubtful. 600 kanji is about what we learned in the whole year, and I know that one of the texts we translated in the last term is studied for A-level. I didn't know they had this attitude of dissing A-level and whatever Japanese people can do in school... I know that they think that there are a lot of bad Japanese courses around, and it is only fair that they don't make it harder for complete beginners to get in, but certainly *something* is better than nothing? And it does show your interviewers that you are keen.
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    I don't mean this in the way it will probably come across... but doesn't this all mean most, if not all, of the first year is a bit of a doss for those that have done well at Japanese A level? If they, for example, know most of the 600 kanji already, along with a good deal of the grammar, vocab and even some of the studied texts?

    And I didn't realise finals were all that appeared on the degree - I guess there isn't too much difference between a 2 year Part I and Prelims then Part I then.
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    I think the difference will be in terms of the depth stuff is covered in rather than the content, I imagine. For example, for GCSE I learned 200 kanji. I now know about 600 kanji, meaning that there are hundreds of combinations I can make using GCSE kanji mixed with the AS and A2 kanji that I haven't learned yet. At Cambridge I assume there's a more systematic way of learning kanji, meaning you constantly learn new combinations for kanji you know. As mentioned, grammar at A level is mostly "A + B means C", but never why it means this, never how this fits into grammar on a wider scale, it's bascially just rote memorisation. Plus all the history stuff you do in the first year.

    I dunno, I always thought it was trying to square a circle when it was said that the A level didn't help much in the first year - how can 3 years of studying a language not be bennifitial if you want to... study the same language? But I do imagine I'll have pleanty to occupy my time~
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    (Original post by kimoso)
    Really? I hadn't imagined that more people were doing arabic than Japanese. Interesting..
    well it depends on the year, the current 2nd year is so big that they were divided into two groups although some of them left after the first year. Still it meant an unexpected shortage on teaching staff this year
    My year (1st year) is slightly smaller but most of us do combine it either with MML or Persian, I think only 3 people do it as a single subject.
    Whichever way it's hard work but occassionally quite fun and rewarding
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    Is chinese at cambridge based heavily on the study of the language itself or more towards the humanities side of things (history, culture, etc)?

    im asking this as i am having quite a tough time deciding between oxford and cambridge
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    (Original post by Loeweloewe)
    Is chinese at cambridge based heavily on the study of the language itself or more towards the humanities side of things (history, culture, etc)?

    im asking this as i am having quite a tough time deciding between oxford and cambridge
    This shows the exact course content, and how it is divided through all 4 years:

    http://www.ames.cam.ac.uk/Tripos%20General.pdf
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    Usually I'm sceptical about the idea that either Oxford or Cambridge is vastly superior to the other in terms of one particular subject, but I found in the case of Japanese studies at least that the Cambridge program seems to be far better rounded. The impression I've got reading around and talking to students is that in terms of contemporary language teaching SOAS may be better than Oxbridge, but a lot comes down to how wisely one uses their year abroad to work on their language skills. Oxford and Cambridge are then known for having a particularly academic approach to the subject, but while Cambridge takes a broad approach, teaching literature, history, politics, anthropology etc, I hear that Oxford is very highly foccused on the literature aspect. I know in the case of Japanese that Oxford only offer 3 months abroad, in the first year of the four year course, and though they offer an extra year abroad inbetween the third and fourth years that stretches it to a five year BA. I don't know if this is true of Chinese, but as Chris says, you'd be best checking the course content of Oxford and Cambridge, and even sending an email with some questions to the Oriental studies departments.
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    Arg! Did anyone go to the AMES talks today at the open day?
    Looks sooo good
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    See this is why I said the name of this thread needs changing! It's called AMES in the new applicant cycle, so it's just gonna cause confusion!
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    I'm going to be applying for 2009 entry Japanese but I don't really have any idea of the amount of work expected of you. I've asked around various places about Japanese at Universities but can't seem to find much information on Cambridge. From what I've heard SOAS and Sheffield appear to be the best. However, I know the workload at Cambridge is incredibly high so I'm thinking it could give me a potentially better education than the universities mentioned earlier.

    Can anybody offer insight into this.
    For instance how many Kanji do you learn each year?
    Do you learn to use the language more in business type situations or is it largely composed of conversational Japanese?
    How good is your language level at the end of the first year and at the end of the four year course?
    Also, What's the drop-out rate like? - At other universities it is incredibly high.
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    Have you been on the faculty website? www.ames.cam.ac.uk - that has lots of info, including the whole course and all paper options in a PDF (in 'news and events' on the right of the homepage).

    If you look on the tables (though not everyone likes them) Camb is actually top, and it certainly has the best East Asian department in the country for me anyway. Go to SOAS if you just want to be fluent in Japanese, but go to Cambridge if you want to study Japan (as one lecturer told me).

    I've been told you learn about 40 kanji per week in the first year, I don't know about after this. I would think it must be over 2000 in total, but obviously some of this is up to you! How much do you want to learn while on your year abroad etc.?

    It's not a business course; it's about Japan and Japanese culture/history/literature etc. There are options which cover politics and economics though. It won't just be 'conversational' Japanese - it'll be fluent Japanese! (hopefully).

    You'd be well past A level standard at the end of your first year (they say A level takes only the first term, but I find this hard to believe). At the end... again, that's probably down to you a bit, but after 4 years, including a year in Japan, you really should be close to fluency.

    O.S. had the highest drop-out rate at Cambridge. I would imagine the new A.M.E.S. will be the same. But if you're committed, you really shouldn't need to worry about this.

    Go to an Open Day (sadly you've missed this year's by a few months), email tutors, faculty members, admissions tutors. Phone them... anything you want!

    EDIT: Also, go onto the 'Courses' part of the forum and find OS (hopefully someone will rename it as AMES soon). There are quite a few posts about Japanese in there which might answer some of your questions. You'll also see TSR users who have finished their first year so can answer questions in more detail than me.
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    Regarding fluency, a lot of it comes down to how well you use your year abroad. If you spend it making friends with locals, and make Japanese your daily language, you'll come back to England in your final year with a good level of fluency. If you spend your year abroad hanging with other foreign students, you may well come back worse at Japanese than when you left. Furthermore, most people I have spoke to say that none of the university courses really guaranty /full/ fluency. Rather, a good degree in Japanese will take you to the stage where if you were then to spend an extra year in Japan you would be able to become very fluent. I think most courses take you somewhere beyond Level 2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, while Level 1 is an understanding of the language close to native.

    Also, I wouldn't pay too much attention to the tables, even the subject specific ones. Go on the websites and look at the courses in detail. Cambridge is the most focused course, as I understand it, in the first year you do language and 'East Asian history', where as after thay you can do about two topics a year alongside language study. SOAS is broader, with each year having 4 'units', so you could potentially study a wider range of topics than at Cambridge. Leeds looks very broad, having a /points/ system, with some courses only taking 10 points out of... 80? 120? something like that, a year.
    So yeah, do some research and see where appeals the most, 'rankings' be damned.
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    Thanks for the replies guys,

    Cambridge is looking like the best option at the moment, although getting in may be a bit of hassle.

    Does anyone know anything more about the year abroad? The whole "make your own arrangements" thing seems pretty daunting. I assume a lot of people will just teach English, is this common? Do many people get places at Japanese universities and how much would that cost?
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    (Original post by Ezikio)
    Does anyone know anything more about the year abroad? The whole "make your own arrangements" thing seems pretty daunting. I assume a lot of people will just teach English, is this common? Do many people get places at Japanese universities and how much would that cost?
    This is something even the 1st year students I spoke to are unsure of. In my interview I was told I could teach English, which I want to do - but as Japanese law means you're supposed to have a degree to teach, I don't know how this happens. I would guess it's an 'assistant' role.

    As for studying at unis... this is the other big option I'd think - it's what all other unis get everyone to do.
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    Have the Japanese lecture time lists been released for 2008/2009 yet? I'd like to attend the language lectures but I'm not sure if they would clash with my maths lectures. I'm not interested in the culture or history particularly - the language is what fascinates me . I already know a bit of Japanese (though not enough to hold a decent conversation for long!) I personally find the vocabulary to be the hardest part; I love learning kanji ! I just think it's so cool to be able to read and write such a mysterious script . The reactions I get in England when I write something in Japanese are quite funny too :p: ...
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    (Original post by Simba)
    Have the Japanese lecture time lists been released for 2008/2009 yet? I'd like to attend the language lectures but I'm not sure if they would clash with my maths lectures. I'm not interested in the culture or history particularly - the language is what fascinates me . I already know a bit of Japanese (though not enough to hold a decent conversation for long!) I personally find the vocabulary to be the hardest part; I love learning kanji ! I just think it's so cool to be able to read and write such a mysterious script . The reactions I get in England when I write something in Japanese are quite funny too :p: ...
    I think the Reporter (which has lecture timetables) doesn't come out until late September. But last year's one is there so you can get an idea of how many language lectures there are.

    I would imagine, as the course is highly intensive, you'd need to attend every class and do all the 'homework' which would be hard to do alongside another degree (especially one as hardcore as maths). But I guess it could be possible... maybe email someone at the AMES faculty? You'd probably need permission from the Maths faculty too, which they might not be too willing to give?
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    Is there any college I should be thinking about applying for that would be particularly helpful for Japanese?

    Also, out of interest, Is Japanese a competitive course?
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    (Original post by chris1200)
    I think the Reporter (which has lecture timetables) doesn't come out until late September. But last year's one is there so you can get an idea of how many language lectures there are.

    I would imagine, as the course is highly intensive, you'd need to attend every class and do all the 'homework' which would be hard to do alongside another degree (especially one as hardcore as maths). But I guess it could be possible... maybe email someone at the AMES faculty? You'd probably need permission from the Maths faculty too, which they might not be too willing to give?
    Alright, thank you .

    I would only be attending the language lectures which I get the impression is not all that much of the course. You mention learning 40 kanji per week which is certainly not that much - the first three days I tried kanji I did kanji 1-300 in Heisig's 'Remembering the Kanji'. The hardest part for me would be the vocabulary, and I'm sure with practise I could crack that (I already know a fair bit). I'm pretty sure that all Cambridge lectures are attendable by all students (be they first year lectures or not), though you can't sit the exams if you're not doing the course. Obviously maths is my top priority, but I'd love to be fluent in Japanese, and attending the lectures could help give me a boost. I'm entirely self-taught up to this point .
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    (Original post by Simba)
    Alright, thank you .

    I would only be attending the language lectures which I get the impression is not all that much of the course. You mention learning 40 kanji per week which is certainly not that much - the first three days I tried kanji I did kanji 1-300 in Heisig's 'Remembering the Kanji'. The hardest part for me would be the vocabulary, and I'm sure with practise I could crack that (I already know a fair bit). I'm pretty sure that all Cambridge lectures are attendable by all students (be they first year lectures or not), though you can't sit the exams if you're not doing the course. Obviously maths is my top priority, but I'd love to be fluent in Japanese, and attending the lectures could help give me a boost. I'm entirely self-taught up to this point .
    In the first year it's actually the majority of the course - the only other part is the East Asian History bit, and some Japanese Texts later in the year. And yeah you can attend them all, but whether your faculty will be happy with it is another matter. It would also mean you had like 2x as much work as everyone else... so you wouldn't have a lot of free time

    The only way to find out is to ask I guess.

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