Honours in Japanese Studies


‘Honours’ is an intensive year-long program of advanced study with research at its centre. The Honours year enables students to engage with the subject of their major in depth by undertaking research of their own, under the supervision of an expert in the their field. For some students, Honours is the culmination of their formal education while for other students, Honours is the first step on the path to careers as professional researchers and academics. Many staff in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences find Honours teaching the most rewarding part of their job.

Entry Requirements and Program Structure

Admission into the honours program requires completion of 48 senior credit points with a Credit average or above. This includes completion of the major plus 12 additional senior credit points including ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies. You may include one 6-credit point Japan-related Asian Studies unit of study.

Honours students are required to enrol in all four generic units of study: JPNS4011, JPNS4012, JPNS4013, JPNS4014. An honours year is comprised of 40 per cent coursework and 60 per cent thesis. Coursework consists of two specific units of study. The thesis is an 18,000 - 20,000 word original piece of research and writing using English and Japanese language sources appropriate to the student's level of Japanese language proficiency.

Students whose bachelor's degree was undertaken at another university, or students who completed their bachelor's degrees at the University of Sydney more than two years ago should contact the Honours Coordinator to discuss whether the classes they have taken are equivalent to these prerequisites.

Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.


The Honours program in Japanese Studies consists of:

  1. a thesis written under the supervision of one or more members of academic staff
  2. two seminars that meet weekly for two hours for one semester.

The thesis should be of 18000-20000 words in length. Each seminar requires 6000-8000 words of written work or its equivalent. The thesis is worth 60% of the final Honours mark and each of the seminars is worth 20%. While you will receive marks for all pieces of assessment, your academic transcripts will record only your final, overall Honours mark.


Students should consult with the Honours Coordinator regarding seminar offerings in the current year.


The honours thesis constitutes an original piece of research and writing in a field that is supervised by a member of staff. It amounts to 18000-20000 words of writing, and must demonstrate both a command of a wide range of secondary source material in Japanese, as well as a command of a particular disciplinary or interdisciplinary approach to the topic of the research.

Recent theses in the Department

  • Yôsai and the Construction of Feminity in Japanese Sewing Manuals - Amelia Carlin
  • The “seijin” : Conceptualizations of Contemporary Young People - Kanana Fujimori
  • Memorializing Japan’s Unborn: the mizuko kuyô boom in the 1970s - Linda Gibbons
  • Civil society: Japan’s Rising Sun? - Clive Gillard
  • Softening Contemporary Japanese Defence Policy and the Notion of Normalcy - William Hobart
  • The Source and Nature of the “Modernity” of Futatabei Shimei’s Ukigumo - Yvonne Yoon Jung Je
  • Romanticising Shinsengumi in Contemporary Japan - Rosa Saes Byeol Lee
  • Symbols of State Ideology: The Samurai in Modern Japan - Lisa Jane Narroway
  • A presidential Prime Minister: Japan and the Direct Election Debate - Joel Rheuben
  • The Construction and Perception of a “Japanese Economic Model” - Preethi Sundaram
  • The rise and rise of the kôenkai - Gabriel Wakim
  • Explaining Religious Success: Theories of the Popularisation of Pure Land Buddhism in Medieval Japan - Jessie Walker

Thesis Supervision

Contact the Department's Honours Coordinator to discuss your preferred field of Honours study. The Honours Coordinator will then be able to suggest the most appropriate member of staff within the department to supervise the thesis. The list below, whilst not exhaustive, gives an idea of the areas of interest of staff from the Department.

  • Dr Olivier Ansart supervises in Japanese history * Contemporary social and political issues in Japan * Japanese thought.
  • Dr Lionel Babicz supervises in Modern Japanese history (including nationalism, colonialism, and militarism) * Japan-Korea relations * Japanese interactions with Asia * Modern Japanese thought.
  • Dr Yasuko Claremont supervises in Modern Japanese poetry * Comparative literature * Australian literature.
  • Dr Nerida Jarkey supervises in Semantic transitivity and aktionsart * Voice, tense, modality and aspect * Verb and clause linkage * Particles * personal pronouns * conversation analysis, discourse analysis, politeness, speech acts and gendered language * Endangered language in Okinawa.
  • Dr Mats Karlsson supervises in Modern and contemporary Japanese fiction and literary theory * Japanese Cinema * Contemporary topics, especially with a cultural studies’ approach.
  • Prof Michael Lewis
  • Dr Chun-Fen Shao supervises in Japanese language * Migrants in Australia and Japan * Japanese economy, society and culture * Chinese economy, society and culture * Japan-China relationships.
  • Dr Matthew Stavros supervises in Historical research related to modernity * Nationalism * Japanese interactions with the West.
  • Dr Rebecca Suter supervises in Japanese literature * Japanese popular culture * Cross-cultural representations * Comparative Literature * Literary theory * Asian Cultural Studies * Postcolonial Studies * Translation Studies.
  • Assoc Prof Elise Tipton supervises in Modern Japanese history, including women’s history * Nationalism, and modernity.
  • Dr Seiko Yasumoto supervises in Language use in socio-cultural context * Media and Cultural Studies: Language and Culture * Language and Gender * Popular Culture in Japan and East Asia.


In the first instance you should discuss your intention to apply for Honours with the Honours Coordinator. Students will enrol in JPNS4011, 4012, 4013 and 4014. These, however, are merely generic or ‘shell’ units for your coursework component.

Enrolments are completed online. Go to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Honours webpage for further information on Honours and on the online enrolment application procedure.


The Honours Coordinator can answer any queries relating to the Honours program.