Japanese Studies, 2011-2012

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Objectives
Programme
Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

Objectives

Successful completion of the programme equips students with:

  • an excellent command of Japanese, and – for certain specialisations – of Classical
    Japanese;
  • broad knowledge of Japan and understanding of its internal and external dynamics;
  • starting points for contextualising Japan within Asia;
  • the ability to comment on Japan from different angles (e.g. Western Europe) for both
    specialist and general audiences, and to act as cultural mediators;
  • understanding of the history of Japanese Studies and its current development, as well as
    its interfaces with various disciplines (e.g. Anthropology, (Art) History, Political
    Science) and its social relevance;
  • understanding of disciplinary thinking;
  • good analytical skills;
  • understanding of concepts, terminology and methodology as dictated by regionaldisciplinary
    specialisation, as well as some experience in their application;
  • research experience: the ability to locate, evaluate and use source materials, professional
    literature and research methodology and techniques, as well as training in the oral and
    written presentation of results, both for monitoring purposes and for reporting in
    various professional settings.

The programme aims to raise students to a level of knowledge and skills that allows them
to proceed to PhD research. Alternatively, graduates qualify for positions outside the
university that require an academic level of thinking.

Programme

Structure

First Year

The first year of the master’s programme is divided into two parts. The first, which runs
from September until March, consists of a combination of intensive language training
and disciplinary training in Japanese and Asian Studies. The purpose of this part of
the first year is to prepare students for their year in Japan, which follows the Japanese
academic year and runs from April. Specifically, students will be trained to reach the
equivalent of JLPT level 2 before they go to Japan; because this level is essential for
students to be able to follow courses in Japanese at Japanese universities, students will not
be permitted to progress to the next phase of the master (in Japan) unless they meet this
standard by March. Apart from language training, students will be able to choose from a
number of academic courses (known as Master Classes in Asian Studies, and State of the
Field seminars); these cover topics in fields such as history (modern and pre-modern),
politics and international relations, social science, linguistics, philosophy, religion, and
literature. Students will be encouraged to choose courses matching their interests, so that
they can build upon these foundations whilst in Japan and prepare for writing a specialist
dissertation on their return to Leiden in year two.

In most, if not all courses, group size ranges from small (4 or 5 students) to medium
(about 15 students), with up to 20-25 contact hours a week. Language pedagogy aims
at giving students as much linguistic exposure as possible. The preferred partners of
Leiden University for Japanese Studies are Keio University, Kyoto University, Nagasaki
University and the Osaka University of Foreign Languages.

Second Year

The second year of the programme is also divided into two parts, since students will
complete their year in Japan at the start of the second semester. The remainder of the
second semester takes place in Leiden. Much of the work in this semester is concerned
with polishing advanced language skills and developing specialised expertise so that a
final dissertation can be written. At this stage, language and academic skills should be
properly integrated, and it will be expected that students should be able to work from
primary sources in Japanese when they write their final master’s thesis. Students are free
to choose the topic of their thesis and their academic supervisor from amongst the expert
staff of the Department of Japanese and Korean Studies. At the moment, we are able to
supervise topics in the fields of History, Sociology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Religion,
Literature, Politics and International relations, Material Culture, and Anthropology.

During the final stages of the master’s programme, emphasis is also placed on cultivating
a command of Japanese appropriate for practical use in situations in which graduates
often find themselves in their subsequent professional lives. Topics include legal,
commercial and political language use, Internet and new media.
Upon completion of the master’s programme, students should be well-qualified to pursue
professional careers in which the use of high-level Japanese language skills is important.
Students should also have a well-developed, academic understanding of important
aspects of Japanese Studies, providing a suitable base for future research.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed the 120 ects programme
and have completed their master’s thesis as a component of that programme. The
programme is concluded with a master’s thesis based upon original individual research.
Students are supervised individually by staff members of the department.
The thesis for the Japanese Studies master’s programme carries 15 ects, and as a rule
contains a maximum of 17,000 words including notes, bibliography and appendices.
Also see: hum.leiden.edu/students/regulations

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