Asian Studies

The Asian Studies program is part of the School of Languages and Cultures.

About the major

In the Asian century, the task of understanding the region is vital to the future. Understanding Asia relies on gaining a foundation in its major traditions, as well as in the issues of contemporary culture and society. In the Asian Studies program we introduce and identify major cultural, historical, social and political trends and issues. These include ethnicity and mobility; the major religions and belief systems, particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam; trans-regional trends, including economic and political relationships between Asia and other parts of the world; major political and social developments and movements of the 20th and 21st centuries and their effects, including nationalism, revolution, military rule and democracy; and mass or popular culture, including topics such as manga and K-Pop.

There are five theme areas that constitute our core concerns or focuses of teaching. These themes are particularly taught in relation to China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

  • Politics, Economics and Environment
  • History and the Present
  • Religion and Philosophy
  • Arts, Culture and Media
  • Society, Gender and Sexuality.

Asian Studies is taught in English, and draws on the cutting-edge research being carried out by academic staff of the program by incorporating it into all aspects of our teaching. Language units of study cannot be counted towards the Asian Studies major, however you are strongly encouraged to the study an Asian language in conjunction with Asian Studies units.

Pathways through the major

A major in Asian Studies requires at least 36 senior credit points, including at least 18 credit points from core units of study of which 6 credit points must be at 3000 level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Asian Studies. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You can find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

You complete 12 junior credit points before enrolling into senior units of study. Junior units provide essential background knowledge and intellectual skills necessary for a more advanced study of Asia. They pay particular attention to the bases of Asian civilisations, and to the global transformations affecting Asian nations and societies.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

A minimum of 18 credit points must to be chosen from core Asian Studies units of study.

Senior-intermediate (2000 level) units provide a broad basis of knowledge in a particular area, expanding on the content of junior units. They develop sets of skills including critical thinking, analysis and synthesis. You complete at least 12 credit points at 2000 level before enrolling into 3000 level units.

Senior-advanced units (3000 level) provide advanced knowledge drawing on a more theoretical framework to consolidate forms of knowledge and skills developed in previous years. To complete a major in Asian Studies you will need to take at least 6 credit points of core units at 3000 level.

Themes or geographical areas

As part of the major, you can focus on a theme area or a geographical/cultural area of interest. These are not requirements of the major but are suggestions for how you might construct a major around your own interests. Not all senior units listed here are available every year; those available in the current year can be seen in the unit of study table.

Themes Suggested unit of study
Politics, Economics and Environment
  • HSTY2621 China's Economy: from Mao to Market
  • GOVT2119 Southeast Asia: Dilemmas of Development
  • ASNS2632 Modern Japanese Social History
  • ASNS3617 Citizens and Politics in China Today
  • ASNS3619 China and Globalisation
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies
History and the Present
  • ASNS2632 Modern Japanese Social History
  • ASNS2642 Modern Korea
  • ASNS2661 Modern Indonesian History
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies
  • HSTY2622 The Opium Wars in China (1839-1860)
  • HSTY2681 Colonialism in Modern Asia
Religion and Philosophy
  • ASNS2626 Religious Traditions of South Asia
  • ASNS2613 Chinese Thought
  • ASNS2660 Islam, Trade and Society-Arabia to SE Asia
  • BDST2613 Zen and Chan Buddhism
  • BDST2616 The Buddha's Words
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies
Arts, Culture and Media
  • ASNS2672 Mass Media in East Asia
  • ARHT2641 Art and Archaeology of Southeast Asia
  • ARHT2640 Modern and Contemporary Asian Art
  • ASNS3618 Popular China
  • JPNS3675 Japanese Cinema
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies
 Society, Gender and Sexuality
  • ANTH2620 China: Contemporary Ethnography
  • ASNS2677 Beyond the Geisha/Samurai Binary
  • ASNS2663 Social Activism in Southeast Asia
  • ASNS2676 Gender and Sexuality in Modern Asia
  • ASNS2632 Modern Japanese Social History
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies
Geographical/Cultural regions Suggested unit of study
China
  • ANTH2620 China: Contemporary Ethnography
  • ASNS2618 Remaking Chinese Society
  • ASNS2613 Chinese Thought
  • HSTY2623 China's Traumas: 1939-1971
  • ASNS3618 Popular China
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies
Japan
  • ASNS2631 Origins of Japanese Tradition
  • ASNS2632 Modern Japanese Social History
  • ASNS2677 Beyond the Geisha/Samurai Binary
  • JPNS3675 Japanese Cinema
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies
Korea
  • ASNS2641 Traditional Korea
  • ASNS2670 Mass Media in East Asia
  • ASNS2642 Modern Korea
  • ASNS2672 Japan and East Asia from 1840 until Today
  • KRNS3675 Contemporary Korean Society & Culture
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies
Southeast Asia
  • ASNS2661 Modern Indonesian History
  • ANTH2601 Ethnography of Southeast Asia
  • ASNS2663 Social Activism in Southeast Asia
  • ARHT2641 Art and Archaeology of Southeast Asia
  • ASNS2664 Southeast Asia Transformed
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies
 South Asia
  • ANTH2626 Religious Traditions of South Asia
  • ASNS2627 India, China, Tibet: Cultural Relations
  • ASNS2623 India: Tradition to Modernity
  • BDST2616 The Buddha's Words
  • BDST3611 Buddhist Philosophical Traditions
  • ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies

 

Honours

Students intending to complete Honours must have qualified for the award of the pass degree with a major in Asian Studies. You will have completed 48 senior credit points with an average of 70 percent or above which includes the 36 senior credit points required for a major and 12 additional credit points. As part of this requirement you must have completed ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies, or equivalent subject if you are entering honours from another University.

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: sydney.edu.au/arts/asian_studies
Program Director: Professor Adrian Vickers
Email:
Phone: +61 2 9351 2878