Chloeadams1919
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I want to study Japanese but have no idea where, is there certain Uni's that are particularly good for the subject? My target grades are A*AA.
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umbrellala
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(Original post by Chloeadams1919)
I want to study Japanese but have no idea where, is there certain Uni's that are particularly good for the subject? My target grades are A*AA.
You can see the league tables for which unis are ranked best for it
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artful_lounger
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You pretty much have the choice of any university given those grades; Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh are the ones with entry criteria near or at that grade level, although they may or may not necessarily be the best options for that language. SOAS is, of course, a specialist in Asian (and other non-European) languages, so may be worth considering regardless of entry criteria, as they have offered a lot of those languages for quite a long time. Leeds has a fairly well established Department of East Asian Studies to my knowledge, while Sheffield also has such a department (although I don't really know much about it other than it offers Korean which is pretty rare in the UK).

Any of those may be worth considering, although some may be preferable to others for you, for various reasons. For example, some of those offer the option to study a second language with your main language (and not all may offer the same range of options, or offer you the possibility of studying both languages to the same level) while others may only allow you to study just Japanese. Aside from that I would note Oxbridge language courses tend to be quite literary in flavour as well (I believe in both you have to study at least one paper in literary/classical Japanese, for example).

Quick-use may have some suggestions, particularly as to what may be worth looking for from the departments or in the course structure specifically?
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Quick-use
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Quick-use may have some suggestions, particularly as to what may be worth looking for from the departments or in the course structure specifically?
Thanks for tagging me in this.

Chloeadams1919, I studied Japanese at Edinburgh and I also seasonally work as a JLPT exam proctor at the Edinburgh Uni JLPT centre.

As a preface, Japanese degrees in the UK usually see the student spending 50% of their time learning the language and the other 50% of the time studying the academic side of Japanese studies (including politics, literature and religion etc). Of course, the split might not be even in every university, and the standard of the language as well as the academic education will vary from institution to institution. In any case, here are my thoughts on the Japanese degrees offered in British universities (from what friends who've studied Japanese at the following institutions have told me and my own speculation):

Oxford - Extremely heavy emphasis on history, literature and classical Japanese language. Might not have the best command of spoken Japanese but knowledge of grammar and ability to read will be great. Furthermore, all students go to the same university during their year abroad (unless they've recently changed it). I understand they might do this to maintain academic standards for their students while abroad, but it completely holes them up in a bubble. There's a high chance the students just end up among themselves and not really speaking Japanese while in the country. Ergo, go here if you want to learn more about the academic field of Japanese studies (and might want to do a PhD in the future), but not necessarily if you want to improve your conversational Japanese. That said, even though I say that Oxford hugely focuses on the academic side of things, that doesn't mean that your spoken Japanese will be bad; in fact, it'll be amazing (and very advanced) but perhaps not as conversationally fluent as those studying at SOAS or Edinburgh.

SOAS - phenomenal for language students. However, extremely, extremely competitive (and, to an extent, toxic) student community. Huge focus on reading, learning kanji and passing tests. Everyone knows everyone's grades and is vying for top place. Every man or woman (or otherwise) for themselves. Speaking will improve (and most likely be better than an Oxford student's) but still a little lacking due to the heavy emphasis on test-taking. My friend who graduated from SOAS in Japanese also mentioned some terrible things about SOAS as far as departmental politics go. I'd recommend going here if you really want an extremely competitive atmosphere and to receive the most rigorous Japanese language tuition (SOAS students always score the highest in written placement tests at Japanese universities).

Durham - extremely new Japanese department made only a few years ago. Don't know anyone who went here but would most certainly not recommend going somewhere where they've literally just begun the course. Even courses which have been going on for decades still haven't perfected the formula, especially for a course as difficult and sinuous as Japanese. Although I realise that I'm being frightfully presumptuous and biased against Durham, I just know (from experience) how painful university bureaucracy is. As a general rule of thumb, avoid new courses/degrees/departments (unless you hear wonderful things) because otherwise you'll just be treated like guinea pigs and set up for failure.

Manchester - Very respectable university with an impressive international brand. That said, the uni itself receives poor ratings for student satisfaction (as most big universities including Edinburgh do) and, surprisingly, its Asian Studies department seems to score rather low as well in contrast to Edinburgh's (which is near perfect). This isn't a great sign, so I'd be cautious... They also have links to some of the most random Japanese partner universities: from the elite of the elite to some of the complete worst and unknown Japanese universities. I, admittedly, don't know too much about the actual course but a few of the guys I met during my YA didn't speak it too well (could be just them). Even so, I imagine their Japanese reading ability was better. In any case, Manchester has access to its interpreting and translating department/s, so I imagine there would be some very useful modules in that. All in all, I'm not too certain about Manchester, but the very little that I have heard has made me unsure of the Japanese degree there. On a positive note, there was a current student of Japanese at Manchester who used to frequent TSR and her experience had generally been a positive one so far (she was in 2nd year at the time).

Edinburgh (long section because I can give my own personal account) - excellent language courses with heavy emphasis on speaking. Reading, although covered in depth throughout the degree, is perhaps not hammered in as much in the first two years as the SOAS or Oxford Japanese programs. Ergo, JLPT test results (which don't examine speaking ability) in the first few years might not be as good as SOAS and Oxford students' but will generally even out during the year abroad. Speaking, on the other hand, will be of a higher standard.

Partner universities are also being cut down to about 6. Even though they're all elite universities, you'll have fewer options than the previous lineup of 12+ (that I had when I studied abroad).

Edinburgh is also heavy on academic Japanese studies (but not as much as Oxford), so you'll spend 50% of your degree studying Japanese/East Asian history, politics etc while the other 50% will be spent studying the language. The academic side can be dense at times and some lecturers are somewhat dull. The department is definitely carried by its exceptional language classes and tutors. I'd say that the language staff are the heart of the department as the environment is extremely tight-knit and you'll be friends with everyone up to 4th year, the language tutors/lecturers as well as all the previous senpais who've already graduated.

The Asian Studies department (including Japanese and Chinese) always gets exceptional reviews and ratings even when the university as a whole struggles (as most big universities do). I've actually heard nothing but rave reviews about the Chinese Studies department. What's more, every single academic lecturer for Chinese Studies is amazing. I was very pleasantly surprised and hooked in all my lectures of modern Chinese history!

As an aside, in your first two years, you can also take an outside subject. So, you would generally do: Japanese language + East Asian history etc + 1 more subject (in practically anything, as long as there are no timetable clashes and you meet the requirements like having A level Maths for a 1st year Maths course). You can also change your degree to your outside course if you want. In other words, if you did Japanese language + East Asian history + Economics in your first year, you could switch to an Economics degree!

Cambridge - no idea whatsoever.

Leeds - have heard nothing but great things about here and their Asian Studies department (which is very well established). Leeds is also a lovely student city. Potential major con (or pro) to studying Japanese at Leeds is that they send their students to Japan in 2nd year. I'm not convinced that sending students to Japan at a post-beginner's level (the level you'd attain after 1st year) would see them reach advanced stages of the language after a year. In other words, sending students in 2nd year lowers the skill ceiling that students can reach. Generally, everyone improves their language abilities the most during their YA, so sending them at a higher level means that they can become all the better; but, sending them at a lower level, although helps them improves rapidly, lowers the ceiling. They'll probably come back post-intermediate whereas students going in 3rd year go as either intermediate or post-intermediate and come back advanced.

This is either good or bad depending on how you view this.

Sheffield - have heard quite decent stuff about here. A friend who graduated from here in 2016 said that some of the courses weren't too intensive as she had hoped, but I've also heard from a student on TSR recently how the courses are intensive. In other words, I'm not really sure but since the student on TSR graduated from Sheffield recently, I imagine the Japanese degree at Sheff has probably changed a little over the past few years and has improved quite a bit.

Oxford Brookes - 2 Master's students at Edinburgh who had done their undergraduate Japanese degrees at Brookes praised the university but did admit that they felt some of the content was a little too easy to pass at times (which doesn't sound too bad to me...).

UCLAN - In all honesty, don't know a single thing about here since I don't know anyone who's studied here or any member of staff teaching here (unless they've recently acquired someone I know).

Final note
Think carefully about what you want from your Japanese degree. Whether you might want to go into academia in the future, want a well-rounded education or just want to stroll by. Moreover, look into the academic Japanese studies modules offered at each university because 1) every Japanese studies department has a completely different focus and 2) at ancient universities like Oxford and Edinburgh, you'll be taking half of your courses in this. While Edinburgh's focus is more on contemporary societal issues, Oxford's is classical, and SOAS is more general history (and, perhaps, linguistics?). Finally, consider the location as London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Oxford, Durham, Leeds, Sheffield etc are all very, very different. The year abroad options offered by each department are also equally different.

All universities have their pros and cons. In all honesty, you can't go wrong with any of the universities. You just need to be aware of what you'll be getting yourself into as every department has its own focus and way of doing things (like Leeds sending their students abroad in 2nd year while all other universities do this in 3rd year).

If you want more information regarding a Japanese degree, here's another thread I've posted on: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho...340&highlight=
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CSconv2020
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(Original post by Quick-use)
Sheffield - have heard quite decent stuff about here but their language courses don't seem to be nearly as intensive as the other universities I've discussed.
I don't agree with this at all, I graduated from Sheffield's Japanese Studies program in 2019 and it was incredibly intense. I was placed in the highest set in my exchange year with postgrad Chinese students and passed N1 after I graduated.
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Quick-use
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(Original post by CSconv2020)
I don't agree with this at all, I graduated from Sheffield's Japanese Studies program in 2019 and it was incredibly intense. I was placed in the highest set in my exchange year with postgrad Chinese students and passed N1 after I graduated.
My friends who were at Sheffield had graduated in 2016, and I was going off their impressions. I imagine things might have changed recently or perhaps they were somewhat biased.

I'm glad to hear that your course was extremely intense. Would you mind telling me more about your experiences at Sheffield / year abroad so that I can edit my original post? I'm sure potential applicants would appreciate more university options when seeking intense Japanese language tuition.
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CSconv2020
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(Original post by Quick-use)
My friends who were at Sheffield had graduated in 2016, and I was going off their impressions. I imagine things might have changed recently or perhaps they were somewhat biased.

I'm glad to hear that your course was extremely intense. Would you mind telling me more about your experiences at Sheffield / year abroad so that I can edit my original post? I'm sure potential applicants would appreciate more university options when seeking intense Japanese language tuition.
Yeah sure, you are expected to know kana before you get there they had a test on that. Then in year 1 there were weekly kanji tests and graded writing assignments. Listening and speaking were also developed well. I think you are expected to know 500 kanji in the first year and all the 常用 kanji after exchange. Year 2 you could do classical Japanese which was assessed by translating ancient stories and there was a focus over the whole course of learning translation as a skill rather than something you just assume you can do. Probably we covered most of the grammar by the start of the exchange, so if you have been grinding vocab and kanji the year abroad isn't really about learning Japanese as much as it is about refining your language usage, like my classes focused a lot on proper keigo usage and Japanese academic writing and speaking conventions, and I also did a lot of research for my dissertation. In the final year we covered summary translation which was a useful skill to develop. I think about 3/4 of my starting cohort didn't finish but that is probably normal for Japanese programmes.
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Quick-use
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(Original post by CSconv2020)
Yeah sure, you are expected to know kana before you get there they had a test on that. Then in year 1 there were weekly kanji tests and graded writing assignments. Listening and speaking were also developed well. I think you are expected to know 500 kanji in the first year and all the 常用 kanji after exchange. Year 2 you could do classical Japanese which was assessed by translating ancient stories and there was a focus over the whole course of learning translation as a skill rather than something you just assume you can do. Probably we covered most of the grammar by the start of the exchange, so if you have been grinding vocab and kanji the year abroad isn't really about learning Japanese as much as it is about refining your language usage, like my classes focused a lot on proper keigo usage and Japanese academic writing and speaking conventions, and I also did a lot of research for my dissertation. In the final year we covered summary translation which was a useful skill to develop. I think about 3/4 of my starting cohort didn't finish but that is probably normal for Japanese programmes.
Thanks for this. If you don't mind, I was hoping to ask a few more things (to help me update my post about Sheffield). What academic Japanese or East Asian studies modules were offered throughout your degree? What were the academic Japanese and language staff like? What were your classes and lectures like? What year abroad options did you have and where did you go? How was your year abroad?
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adam271
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Heard anything about uclan
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CSconv2020
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(Original post by Quick-use)
Thanks for this. If you don't mind, I was hoping to ask a few more things (to help me update my post about Sheffield). What academic Japanese or East Asian studies modules were offered throughout your degree? What were the academic Japanese and language staff like? What were your classes and lectures like? What year abroad options did you have and where did you go? How was your year abroad?
You mean like studies modules? There was the standard offering of politics/economics/literature/international relations, also some media studies stuff. I studied literature under Dr.Victoria Young who now works at Cambridge and Dr. Hiroaki Watanabe is a exceptional professor in East Asian political economy and international relations. The language staff are mostly Japanese and all very good, but they don't have a lot of patience for non-excellent students. Your exchange university is decided for you based on your year 1 grades I think, but you have a choice of being located inside or outside Tokyo. My year abroad was great it really pushed my speaking a lot.
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romelia
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Hi! I applied to Oxford, Sheffield, Leeds, Durham and Edinburgh for 2020 and got offers from all 5 but firmed Oxford with Edinburgh as my insurance in the end. Those two were my favourite in terms of course structure and I loved the universities themselves! Sheffield was also quite nice bur I know very little about the course, I went once on an unrelated trip but the university and the people were quite friendly Durham was pretty disappointing though, the Japanese tutors seemed quite nervous and unprepared, and when I went to speak to them separately they weren’t very clear in answering my questions. I know next to nothing about Leeds, I never visited the university but the course seems very good.

Overall, I think it depends on what kind of person you are and what you want to achieve. I am quite academic and I love that side of Japanese, and I want a high level of fluency, which is why I applied to higher-ranking universities. I am happy to tell you more about whichever course I end up getting into later on this year!
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Chloeadams1919
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Hey, congrats on all five offers! What A-levels have you taken? I’m predicted high grades but I’m taking Fine Art, Film Studies, Combined English and an EPQ, so I feel like I won’t look very academic to high ranking Unis like oxford or Cambridge. Do you think I will struggle with these subjects ?
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Chloeadams1919
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(Original post by romelia)
Hi! I applied to Oxford, Sheffield, Leeds, Durham and Edinburgh for 2020 and got offers from all 5 but firmed Oxford with Edinburgh as my insurance in the end. Those two were my favourite in terms of course structure and I loved the universities themselves! Sheffield was also quite nice bur I know very little about the course, I went once on an unrelated trip but the university and the people were quite friendly Durham was pretty disappointing though, the Japanese tutors seemed quite nervous and unprepared, and when I went to speak to them separately they weren’t very clear in answering my questions. I know next to nothing about Leeds, I never visited the university but the course seems very good.

Overall, I think it depends on what kind of person you are and what you want to achieve. I am quite academic and I love that side of Japanese, and I want a high level of fluency, which is why I applied to higher-ranking universities. I am happy to tell you more about whichever course I end up getting into later on this year!
Hey, congrats on all five offers! What A-levels have you taken? I’m predicted high grades but I’m taking Fine Art, Film Studies, Combined English and an EPQ, so I feel like I won’t look very academic to high ranking Unis like oxford or Cambridge. Do you think I will struggle with these subjects ?
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Tobelstein
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(Original post by Quick-use)
Manchester - Very respectable university with an impressive international brand. That said, the uni itself receives poor ratings for student satisfaction (as most big universities including Edinburgh do) and, surprisingly, its Asian Studies department seems to score rather low as well in contrast to Edinburgh's (which is near perfect). This isn't a great sign, so I'd be cautious... They also have links to some of the most random Japanese partner universities: from the elite of the elite to some of the complete worst and unknown Japanese universities. I, admittedly, don't know too much about the actual course but a few of the guys I met during my YA didn't speak it too well (could be just them). Even so, I imagine their Japanese reading ability was better. In any case, Manchester has access to its interpreting and translating department/s, so I imagine there would be some very useful modules in that. All in all, I'm not too certain about Manchester, but the very little that I have heard has made me unsure of the Japanese degree there. On a positive note, there was a current student of Japanese at Manchester who used to frequent TSR and her experience had generally been a positive one so far (she was in 2nd year at the time).
I've firmed Manchester, so hopefully I'll be able to provide some more insight into the course if I'm accepted. Funnily enough, the eclectic mix of partner universities is one of many reasons why I chose Manchester over SOAS, Sheffield, and the like.
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(Original post by Tobelstein)
I've firmed Manchester, so hopefully I'll be able to provide some more insight into the course if I'm accepted. Funnily enough, the eclectic mix of partner universities is one of many reasons why I chose Manchester over SOAS, Sheffield, and the like.
Excellent! I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time. For Manchester's exchange program, this is what I'd advise (note this down if you can):

If you don't mind some advice regarding the year abroad, whatever you do, do not consider Kyoto University as I really, really can't stress how awful their exchange programme is. I would only go there if you want prestige and literally don't care about your Japanese level and actually don't mind if it regresses. My close friend went there during my YA and she was made to take several classes in English with Japanese students. What's more, the classes were all GCSE standard and things like Biology etc... The difficulty was at GCSE standard to help Japanese students understand the content and as well as the English language. Furthermore, my friend only had like 1 or 2 Japanese language classes a week (while the rest of us had 15+). Before her, I know a lot of people (senpais) who went to Kyoto and absolutely detested it. Again, whoever goes there will be sacrificing their Japanese big time. It's perhaps the absolute worst in terms of Japanese language education. Only go there if you're bilingual and just want the brand/location. Interestingly enough, the university has garnered so much criticism that Edinburgh only allows students who've attained N1 by the time they go abroad.

Another one I would be somewhat cautious of is Kansai Gaidai. It takes in a lot of international students with limited to no level of Japanese and its brand isn't ideal either. You'll constantly be surrounded by English-speaking international students or Japanese students who expect you to speak English with them. I guess if you want to party with other foreigners, it could be fun! Otherwise, I might give it a pass.

If I were you, the only ones I'd seriously consider are: Hiroshima (amazing city and pretty good Japanese courses); Hitotsubashi (prestige); Hokkaido (prestige, exceptional location and city, and language classes are pretty good apparently); Keio (prestige but isolated location and classes are OK); Kobe University (good reputation, location and city are wonderful but its also the university that houses all the Oxford students, so might be a little awkward); Kwansei Gakuin (good reputation, nice location, beautiful campus, and quite good classes); Meiji University (prestige); University of Tokyo (prestige); Kyushu (prestige, excellent location and city - no idea about classes); Tokyo Uni of Foreign Studies (prestige and maybe good classes? No idea. But, the location is in the middle of nowhere and absolutely terrible. I really, really would not recommend if you want to enjoy Japan); and, Waseda (prestige, excellent location in the heart of Tokyo and good classes).

I don't know if Manchester has an exchange with Sophia University, Seikei University or Doshisha University, but these three are some of the most spectacular in terms of quality of classes and pastoral care. After those, I'd recommend the ones in my previous paragraph! :rambo:
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Heard anything about uclan
I haven't, sorry. Are you considering going there? :rambo:
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(Original post by romelia)
Hi! I applied to Oxford, Sheffield, Leeds, Durham and Edinburgh for 2020 and got offers from all 5 but firmed Oxford with Edinburgh as my insurance in the end. Those two were my favourite in terms of course structure and I loved the universities themselves! Sheffield was also quite nice bur I know very little about the course, I went once on an unrelated trip but the university and the people were quite friendly Durham was pretty disappointing though, the Japanese tutors seemed quite nervous and unprepared, and when I went to speak to them separately they weren’t very clear in answering my questions. I know next to nothing about Leeds, I never visited the university but the course seems very good.

Overall, I think it depends on what kind of person you are and what you want to achieve. I am quite academic and I love that side of Japanese, and I want a high level of fluency, which is why I applied to higher-ranking universities. I am happy to tell you more about whichever course I end up getting into later on this year!
Congratulations on all your offers! When do you find out where you're going? You'll have an exceptional time. :fluffy:
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romelia
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(Original post by Chloeadams1919)
Hey, congrats on all five offers! What A-levels have you taken? I’m predicted high grades but I’m taking Fine Art, Film Studies, Combined English and an EPQ, so I feel like I won’t look very academic to high ranking Unis like oxford or Cambridge. Do you think I will struggle with these subjects ?
Thanks! In all honesty, Oxford and Cambridge do prefer at least two facilitating subjects — meaning the more academic core subjects such as english, history, maths etc etc, but they do not have any compulsory subjects. languages are recommended, but not preferred. I took French, History, and Politics. It’s worth looking in to their websites or emailing someone from the department to see if they’re happy with your a level choices
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(Original post by Quick-use)
Congratulations on all your offers! When do you find out where you're going? You'll have an exceptional time. :fluffy:
Thank you so much !! Results day is still the same, 13 August
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