University of Sydney Handbooks - 2012 Archive

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Asian Studies

The Asian Studies Program is in the School of Languages and Cultures (SLC).

Program structure and content
Asia is a vital region of the globe today that has been experiencing dynamic cultural transformations and astounding growth in economic power. The task of understanding Asia requires a comprehensive program, including the ancient histories of Asian societies, the diversity of Asian languages and cultures, the importance of their colonial and postcolonial histories, and the complexities of their modern rural and urban societies.

Australia today is tied into Asia more than ever before, through intensifying cultural contacts, immigration, tourism, commerce and trade, and strategic alliances. Thus, the study of Asia has become vital to Australia's future, and all educated Australians need to learn more about their neighbours in the region.

The undergraduate program in Asian Studies offers students:

  1. an interdisciplinary approach in understanding Asia
  2. a comparative perspective in the study of different Asian societies and histories
  3. an introduction to cultural and social theories as tools to approach Asia.

Students do not need to speak, read, or write an Asian language to enrol in units of study offered by the Asian Studies Program, as all classes are conducted in English and use English-language texts. However, we encourage study of an Asian language and deepening of cultural knowledge and understanding through a period of exchange study at one of the many University of Sydney partner universities in Asia.

When structuring their program, undergraduates in Asian Studies may choose to focus on:

I. Five Disciplinary/Thematic clusters:

  1. Politics, Economics and Environment
  2. History and the Present
  3. Religion and Philosophy
  4. Arts, Culture and Media
  5. Society, Gender and Sexuality

II. Five Geographical/Cultural areas of concentration:

  1. China
  2. Japan
  3. Korea
  4. Southeast Asia
  5. South Asia

The University of Sydney holds exchange agreements with universities in the Asian region including China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Thailand.

Requirements for a major
There are two compulsory first year junior units of study which are prerequisites for the Asian Studies senior level units (these junior level units may be waived by the department if students have taken other Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Table A junior units):

  • ASNS1601 Introduction to Asian Cultures
  • ASNS1602 Modernity in Asia

To obtain a major in Asian Studies, students must successfully complete 36 senior credit points. A minimum of 18 senior credit points must be made up of ASNS units; the other 18 senior credit points may be taken from approved cross-listed units of study offered by other Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences departments.

Please check the cross-listing schedule on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences website, and consult the relevant departments regarding availability of units of study for 2012. Some of these units may have prerequisites. No language units of study may be counted towards the major. Only units with historical, cultural, social or political-economic content on Asia may be cross-listed to Asian Studies.

Sample pathway
Pathway 1 Major with a thematic concentration in History and the Present:

  • First year: ASNS1601 Introduction to Asian Cultures; ASNS1602 Modernity in Asia.
  • Second year: ASNS2642 Traditional Korea; ASNS2664 Southeast Asia Transformed.
  • Third year: ASNS2623 India: Tradition and Modernity; HSTY2640 Twentieth Century China; ASNS2618 Remaking Chinese Society; ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies.

Pathway 2 Major with a country/region concentration

  • First year: ASNS1601 Introduction to Asian Cultures; ASNS1602 Modernity in Asia.
  • Second year: ASNS2619 Origins of Japanese Tradition; ASNS2636 Enigma of Japanese Power.
  • Third year: ASNS2672 Japan in East Asia; ASNS2642 Modern Korea; HSTY2673 Lived Experience in Modern China; ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies.

Intending Honours students must have qualified for the award of the pass degree with a major in Asian Studies. They will have completed 12 additional credit points beyond the minimum 36 senior credit points required for a major, including ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies, with a 'Credit' average or better.

The Honours program consists of two seminars and an 18,000-20,000 word thesis on a topic in their area of interest. As with the undergraduate Asian Studies major, all units and the thesis will be in English. However, we encourage students with Asian-language proficiency to utilise sources in that language for their thesis research.

Contact/further information
Program website:
Program Director: Professor Adrian Vickers

Phone: +61 2 9351 2878