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Degree type


Course length

4 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

This multidisciplinary degree will develop advanced knowledge and the understanding of Japanese language and culture.

You will study a core language module in each of your three years. You don’t need to have any previous knowledge of Japanese, but a pathway is available if you already have an A level or equivalent qualification in Japanese.

You will also have the chance to choose from a selection of other modules relevant to the study of Japan from other departments. This includes Anthropology, Education, Government and International Affairs, Economics, and Theology and Religious Studies. In addition, you may choose to take additional language modules, including European languages, Chinese and Korean.

You will spend your third year studying the Japanese language at a university in Japan. This is an amazing opportunity to experience Japanese culture first-hand and to put your language skills into practice and context. You can also apply to add a placement year to your degree, increasing the course from four years to five.

In your final year, you will bring together all your learning and experience to write a dissertation on an aspect of Japanese studies.

Course structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Either Japanese Language 1A (for post-A level entrants). This module will consolidate and extend your grammatical knowledge, to enhance your communication skills in written and oral Japanese.

Or Japanese Language 1B which will provide an introduction to all aspects of the Japanese language. You will get a thorough grounding in the major grammatical features of Modern Japanese, build up your vocabulary and develop skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Introduction to Japanese Culture: From Antiquity to the Present will introduce you to the cultural history of Japan and its philosophy, art and literature. It will help foster a consciousness of Japan's role in and experience of globalisation over the long term. You will also learn about critical concepts and methodologies for the analysis of textual and visual artefacts.

Imagining East Asia in the Modern World covers cultural, social and political history of modern East Asia and the lives and experiences of different people living in and migrating to and from East Asia during the past five centuries.

Examples of optional modules:

  • People and Cultures
  • Introduction to Chinese Culture
  • French/German/Italian/Russian/Spanish Language
  • International Security, Interdependence and Organisation
  • Global Regions in International Relations
  • Worldview, Faith and Identity
  • Gallery 101: Designing an Art Exhibition.

Year 2

Core modules:

Either Japanese Language 2A. This module will further your knowledge of the Japanese language, including grammar and lexis. It will enhance your communicative proficiency in Japanese, in both writing and oral presentation and interaction, and further develop your listening and reading skills. You will also broaden your knowledge of traditional and contemporary Japan, and develop your intercultural awareness.

Or Japanese Language 2B. This module will further develop your linguistic skills across the full range of reading, writing, listening and speaking. It will also prepare you for living abroad in terms of language, practical knowledge and cultural competence.

Examples of optional modules:

  • The Body and the Extremity of the Senses: Through Japanese
  • Political Culture in Japan since 1688
  • Science and Technology in Modern Japan: A Cultural History
  • Kinship and Religion
  • Politics and Economics
  • Chinese Cinema
  • Classical Chinese
  • French/German/Italian/Russian/Spanish Language
  • Death, Ritual and Belief.

Year 3

The third year is spent in Japan studying the language full-time at a Japanese university.

Year 4

Your Dissertation will give you valuable experience and understanding of self-directed learning and the importance of choosing appropriate methodology when approaching a research project. It will help you to expand your data collection, analysis and presentation skills, and to develop your critical faculties in relation to existing literature on your topic area.

Japanese Language 4 focuses on proficiency in oral and written Japanese. It aims to develop an ability to write and speak correct Japanese, in expressing ideas in a broad range of topical issues in historical and cultural context. To encourage individual talents and proclivities and help students to achieve their maximum potential.

Critical Methods for the Study of Japanese Literature and History introduces you to advanced concepts and methodologies in literary and historical studies and their potential for reshaping scholarship on Japan and develops higher-level language skills for reading contemporary scholarship in Japanese.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Anthropology, Art, and Experience
  • Anthropology of Sport
  • Poison, Pollution and the Chemical Anthropocene
  • Chinese Historical and Literary Texts
  • East Asia in Historical Perspective: The Making of the Two Koreas
  • China in Global Political Economy
  • China in the Asian Century
  • Emotion and Identity in Religion
  • Polygraphing Japonisme
  • The Work of Art: Professional Skills and Work Placement in the Visual Arts.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


Language modules cultivate speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. For cultural and historical modules, lectures will introduce themes, context and commentary. Seminars then provide an opportunity to develop your critical skills through discussion with other students and staff.

Classroom teaching is only the start – in general, there is an increasing emphasis on independent learning and research, culminating in your dissertation. Most of your time will be spent working independently – reading widely, making notes, finding sources and watching/listening to audio-visual materials. Rather than delivering detailed information, the course aims to help you learn how to learn, guiding you towards independence in using resources effectively, thinking critically and formulating persuasive arguments.

The year abroad is a key element in your developmental education, enhancing your language skills and expanding your intercultural competence.


Language modules are assessed by a mixture of oral, listening and written examinations. Optional modules are assessed by essays, commentaries, projects and examinations. You will also complete a 12,000-word dissertation in your final year. During your year abroad you will complete a Year Abroad assignment.

Entry requirements

You are not expected to have any previous knowledge of Japanese, but if you do have an A level (or equivalent) in Japanese, then you can enter the Advanced stream from Year 1.

A level offerAAB. Grade A in History is required, if taking the History option.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD. Grade A in History is required, if taking the History option.

IB Diploma score36 with 665 in higher level subjects. Please see above for subject requirements.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. Please contact our Admissions team for more information.
  • We look for aptitude in language study but there is no requirement for an A2 foreign language or equivalent qualification
  • If you are taking the History route of Japanese Studies you must have an A in A2 History or equivalent qualification
  • You are not expected to have any previous knowledge of Japenese, but if you do have an A level (or equivalent), then you can enter the Advanced stream from Year 1
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2024/25 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Modern Languages and Cultures

A degree in Languages and Cultures will provide you with an impressive portfolio of cultural knowledge, transferable skills and real-world experiences that is valued by employers worldwide. In particular, the year abroad which, as well as developing language abilities, can also greatly enhance your intercultural, problem-solving and communication skills.

With the UK as a whole producing fewer linguists, proficiency in languages coupled with the intellectual rigour and cultural understanding acquired during your degree will make you highly employable in a wide range of careers both in the UK and internationally. These include occupations such as interpreting, translation and teaching, media and the arts but also working across wider industry in research, administration, human resources, sales and business development, and the financial services.

Visual Arts

The study of Visual Arts and Film will help you build up future-proof skills.

In a world that increasingly demands visual literacy and is rapidly changing through technologies like AI, it is hard to predict what specialised skills will be needed in future.

For this reason, our programme seeks to enable you to be a nimble thinker and writer, moving across disciplines and geographical areas while still being rigorous In your academic work.

You will cultivate new active learning strategies, understand how to work in teams in the more practice-related elements of the course, develop an ability to solve complex problems, and display creativity, originality and initiative in the range of outputs the course demands. All of these are the kinds of skills identified in the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs report in 2020.

Of those students who graduated in 2019:

  • 91% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 81% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £27,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

In an era of increasing globalisation, a skill set that includes cultural understanding and proficiency in languages will help you view the world through a different lens while equipping you with the skills that global employers are looking for.

Our language-based courses offer the flexibility to specialise in one or two languages and the cultural worlds associated with them – choose from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic Studies, Italian, Japanese and Russian. You can study from beginners’ level or opt for a more advanced route if you already have an A level or equivalent qualification.

All of our language degrees include a year abroad, a valuable experience that will broaden your horizons, boost your skills and give you the confidence to adapt to different environments. You will return to Durham for the final year with a deeper understanding of language and cultures, and be better equipped to make meaningful connections with people around the world.

The BA in Visual Arts and Film includes optional modules in languages and an opportunity to apply for a placement year or a year abroad.

While this programme is based in Durham University's School of Modern Languages and Cultures, staff teaching on the programme come from a range of disciplinary backgrounds relating to art history, photography and film on a global scale. As a consequence, course content is almost global in its geographical reach covering art, film, and visual culture from the Western world, the Middle East, Eurasia and East Asia.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • 2nd for Italian, 3rd for Russian & Eastern European Languages and 5th for German in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Modern Languages and Cultures pages.

Research Excellence Framework

8th in the UK for research power (REF 2021).


Modern Languages and Cultures

Our highly skilled academics share their expertise in languages, as well as in literature, cultural history, cinema and visual culture, and translation. Many of our language academics are native speakers, while others have lived experience of the culture and language of the country.

Our location on Elvet Riverside is close to the ancient Elvet Bridge, and within easy walking distance of the colleges, Students’ Union and the historic centre of Durham. Learning facilities include language laboratories, computer classrooms and a large study area. There are satellite and recording facilities for viewing programmes in all the major taught languages.

The University's fully equipped Centre for Foreign Language Study is housed in the same building, and Languages and Cultures students have access to its facilities.

Our highly skilled academics share their expertise in visual culture from around the globe, and many have lived experience of the visual culture and language of their areas of expertise,

Visual Arts

Our highly skilled academics share their expertise in visual culture from around the globe, and many have lived experience of the visual culture and language of their areas of expertise,

Our location on Elvet Riverside is close to the ancient Elvet Bridge, and within easy walking distance of the colleges, Students’ Union and the historic centre of Durham.


Find out more:

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The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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