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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


MPhil applications for 2024/25 are now closed. Applications for 2025/26 will open in September 2024.

The taught MPhil in Japanese Studies gives you the opportunity to explore a wide range of topics relating to Japan, past and present. You will apply the skills gained during your undergraduate studies and advance your research expertise, particularly though the study of primary sources. Topics offered relate closely to the research interests of our staff.

We welcome applications from prospective students who have taken Japanese Studies as a major subject in a first degree programme, have acquired Japanese-language ability or have a strong interest and background in other subjects (e.g. history, anthropology, art history, music, classics, politics, international relations etc.) in the Japanese setting, or have professional experience in a Japanese and/or East Asian context.

For specifics on how to apply, requirements, fees and finance, please see the University Postgraduate Admissions pages for this course.

The course entails:

  • A 15,000-word research dissertation on a topic of your choice
  • A required seminar in Theories and Methodologies in Japanese Studies, which introduces various disciplinary approaches in Japanese Studies.
  • Two optional courses providing specialist training in specific aspects of pre-modern, modern and/or contemporary Japanese history, literature, culture and social anthropology. Certain courses may relate to broader East Asian studies, including Korea. It is possible to borrow one course from other faculties, especially if this course relates to your dissertation topic; borrowed courses must be agreed by the Faculty degree committee

Further details of the course elements

Before you apply, we encourage you to contact us to discuss your research interests.  Please see the list of Faculty members below.  For more general queries about the degree course please contact the Postgraduate Administrator.  If possible, please attach a draft research proposal for your MPhil dissertation when contacting us.  The proposal should usually be fewer than 1,500 words in length and can later be submitted as part of your formal application.

The course provides an excellent foundation for doctoral research for those interested in continuing their academic careers. Postgraduates have also found employment in a wide range of fields including commerce, international relations, development and charity work, media, the cultural sector and education.

Faculty Members with Research Interests in Japanese Studies

Keidanren Professor of Japanese Studies

Having supervised graduate students in a range of fields, including premodern and modern Japanese history, premodern literature as well as Buddhism, Professor Adolphson would welcome enquiries from motivated graduate students and young scholars from across the world.

Research interests: Social structures, ideologies, mentalitée, religious institutions, legal history, historical documents and international trade in Medieval Japan

On sabbatical: October, 2024 to September, 2025
Professor of East Asian History

Prof. Kushner is pleased to supervise graduate students interested in imperial and postwar Japanese history, 20th century Japan-Taiwan, as well as Sino-Japanese relations, the history of the Cold War in East Asia, and history of war crimes in East Asia.

Research interests: Modern East Asian history - including Japan, Taiwan, and China - in particular the wartime, postwar imperial dissolution of the Japanese Empire, and the Cold War in East Asia, as well as history of war crimes, memory politics and the pursuit of justice.

Professor of Early Modern Japanese Literature and Culture

Prof Moretti welcomes graduate students interested in Japanese premodern and early modern literature. She also strongly encourages projects that investigate early modern Japanese culture more broadly, including visual culture and woodblock prints; book history and/or textual scholarship in Japan; Japanese palaeography and calligraphy, and art.. She is also keen to supervise projects that work on issues of adaptation, canon-making, intervisuality, playfulness, humour, satire, metafiction, didactic prose, medicine in popular culture, and transmedia storytelling.


Research interests: Prof Laura Moretti's research focusses on early modern Japanese popular literature and culture. Prof Moretti's projects are inherently interdisiplinary, placed at the intersection of literature, art history, book history, textual scholarship, and palaeography. Working with both books and visual media, including woodblock prints and board games, and combining rigorous close reading of a wide range of archival materials with bold intellectual arguments, Prof Moretti's research challenges our understanding of literature and wishes to retrieve textual traditions that have been silenced after the encounter of Japanese literature with "modernity". Prof Moretti's research covers a wide span of time, moving from the seventeenth to the late nineteenth century.

University Associate Professor in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations

Dr Nilsson-Wright is happy to supervise graduate students who wish to work on East Asian politics, international relations and diplomatic history, particularly with reference to Japan, North and South Korea and US relations with Northeast Asia.

Research interests: Cold War relationship between the USA & NE Asia, particularly Japan & the two Koreas; contemporary regional security issues, foreign policy & domestic politics

University Associate Professor in Modern Japanese Studies

Dr Steger welcomes inquiries from talented young scholars to work under her supervision. She is willing and able to supervise a wide range of topics related to Japanese contemporary society. Please contact her by e-mail prior to application and submit a draft research proposal (ask for guidelines).

Research interests: Japanese society, with emphasis on the cultural history and anthropology of daily life, including studies of sleep, gender, household waste (incl. plastics) and the impact of the 2011 tsunami.

On sabbatical: January, 2024 to June, 2024
Kawashima University Associate Professor in Japanese Literature and Culture

*** Dr Young will be on sabbatical Lent and Easter 2024 and therefore not able to take one-year MPhil applicants intending to commence study in Oct 2023 ***

Dr Young is pleased to supervise graduate students interested in modern and contemporary Japanese and Okinawan literature, particularly where linked to themes and issues of imperialism, decolonisation, gender and sexuality, multilinguality, and translation.    

Research interests: Modern and contemporary Japanese literature; Okinawan studies; writing by minorities in Japan; postcolonial studies; feminist criticism; translation theory.