Niche subject (Japanese Studies), v little advice on best unis for it

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saltandshake
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#1
Report Thread starter 6 months ago
#1
Applying for Japanese Studies for 2022 entry.

My college's internal deadline for uni applications is on 17th November, so I need to make my mind up somewhat quickly about which unis I want to apply to.

I'll be applying to Edinburgh and SOAS (currently 1st and 2nd choices, respectively), but have next to no idea where else.

I've spent time researching various Japanese degrees but have yet to come to any conclusion about which might be best. League tables seem to vary significantly from website to website (and there are only a few websites for Japanese rankings!) + not every uni offers in-depth info about modules, so I worry that I'm missing out on crucial info to help me narrow down my course choices.

I have seen a few posts on TSR about Japanese Studies and they've had some great info, but have been rather concentrated on a few unis (e.g. Leeds/Sheffield, neither of which I have much desire to apply to), so was wondering if anyone could help me more broadly.

I suppose, most simply - which unis are most renowned for Japanese? It's important to me that I come out of my degree with a high level of Japanese - I'm particularly interested in the language side of things. I'd also like to study culture/society as much as possible.

I was looking at Manchester/Newcastle - any thoughts on either of these, too?

Predictions are A*AA, so as far as I'm aware, grades shouldn't pose an issue.

Thanks!
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artful_lounger
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#2
Report 6 months ago
#2
I'd recommend reading through this post by Quick-use who did Japanese at Edinburgh

He might also be able to give some further advice!

(Original post by Quick-use)
Hey, I studied Japanese at Edinburgh and have already graduated.

Here are my thoughts on the Japanese degrees offered in British universities (from what I've heard and witnessed from friends who've studied Japanese at the institutions):

Oxford - somewhat weak conversational Japanese due to extremely heavy emphasis on history and classical Japanese. Knowledge of grammar and ability to read will be exceptional but speaking won't be as strong. Also, all students go to the same university during their YA. I understand they might do this to maintain standards for their students while abroad, but it completely holes them up in a bubble. Ergo, go here if you want to learn more about the academic field of Japanese studies but not if you want to improve your conversational Japanese.

SOAS - phenomenal for language and you will skyrocket in all aspects of language. However, extremely, extremely competitive (and, to an extent, toxic) student community. Everyone knows everyone's grades and is vying for top place. Every man for himself. Also, huge focus on reading, learning kanji and passing tests. 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. Again, have heard some terrible things about SOAS as far as departmental politics go.

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.

Manchester - The uni itself gets extremely poor ratings for student satisfaction (as most big universities including Edinburgh do) but its Asian Studies department seems to be rather low as well in contrast to Edinburgh's which is near perfect. 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. Don't know too much about the actual course but a few of the guys I met during my YA didn't really speak it too well. I imagine their reading was better. In any case, Manchester has access to its interpreting and translating department, so I imagine there would be some very useful modules in that!

Edinburgh - excellent language courses with heavy emphasis on speaking. Reading, although covered in depth, is not covered as much in detail as those in SOAS or Oxford. 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'. Speaking, however, will be way better. Partner universities are also being cut down to about 6. They're all elite universities but much fewer options than the previous 12+. Edinburgh is also somewhat heavy on academic Japanese studies (but not as much as Oxford) all the while focusing on speaking a lot.

Leeds - have heard nothing but great things about here. That said, I only knew a handful of people, so there could've been bias. Still pretty good though.

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.

In any case, language degrees do, to a certain extent, depend on the student and how far they get independently. But, you need a good teacher to guide you and you can't expect to be magically fluent in spoken Japanese if all you're being taught is to read classical stuff. Think carefully about what you want from your Japanese degree. Whether you want to be an academic or well-rounded etc. Also, look into the academic Japanese studies modules because at ancient universities like Oxford and Edinburgh, you'll be taking half of your stuff in these things. Edinburgh's focus is more contemporary while Oxford's is classical. SOAS does more history etc.
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hurts2hatelo
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#3
Report 6 months ago
#3
What about Leeds?

I’m currently in 1st year studying Japanese at Leeds. I know I’m only 6 weeks in to the course but the sensei are so nice and great at teaching. The course is pretty fast paced but honestly i love being challenged academically.
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C_191919
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#4
Report 5 months ago
#4
(Original post by saltandshake)
Applying for Japanese Studies for 2022 entry.

My college's internal deadline for uni applications is on 17th November, so I need to make my mind up somewhat quickly about which unis I want to apply to.

I'll be applying to Edinburgh and SOAS (currently 1st and 2nd choices, respectively), but have next to no idea where else.

I've spent time researching various Japanese degrees but have yet to come to any conclusion about which might be best. League tables seem to vary significantly from website to website (and there are only a few websites for Japanese rankings!) + not every uni offers in-depth info about modules, so I worry that I'm missing out on crucial info to help me narrow down my course choices.

I have seen a few posts on TSR about Japanese Studies and they've had some great info, but have been rather concentrated on a few unis (e.g. Leeds/Sheffield, neither of which I have much desire to apply to), so was wondering if anyone could help me more broadly.

I suppose, most simply - which unis are most renowned for Japanese? It's important to me that I come out of my degree with a high level of Japanese - I'm particularly interested in the language side of things. I'd also like to study culture/society as much as possible.

I was looking at Manchester/Newcastle - any thoughts on either of these, too?

Predictions are A*AA, so as far as I'm aware, grades shouldn't pose an issue.

Thanks!
Hi, I'm currently in my first year studying Japanese at Newcastle University - I’m really enjoying it! The Japanese teachers really are amazing. There are also lots of Japanese exchange students here, so if you apply yourself you can really practice your speaking. You have the option to take a range of other modules like international film, history, culture, politics etc… And, if you're interested in learning any other languages, you can take an extra module called UWLP and learn a second language for free. Feel free to ask me any more questions
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