Study languages: Make the world your place.
To learn Japanese is to gain direct access to one of the world’s most sophisticated, dynamic, and fascinating cultures – and to the large and wealthy market of one of New Zealand’s major trading partners. Japanese culture blends the best of East and West, of cutting-edge modernity and unique tradition, of high-tech innovation and high-cultural style. It is the culture that has given us award-winning manga and anime, the mysteries of Zen, the delectable tastes of sushi and tempura, and the great fun of karaoke – not to mention the world’s shortest poems and longest novels! Japanese culture has something to interest everyone.
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Apply for the Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis))Apply Now
Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) through the Dunedin campus in 2023Apply Now
Why study Japanese?
Japan is one of New Zealand’s major trading partners and one of the world’s richest and largest markets, therefore your knowledge of Japanese language and culture will be highly valued by many New Zealand or overseas employers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, primary and secondary schools, tourism industries, research institutes, law firms and translation services, and the many New Zealand businesses that trade with Japan, all require university graduates not only proficient in Japanese language but familiar enough with Japanese customs and culture that they are able to interact successfully with Japanese people.
Your study of Japanese language and culture will also be immeasurably enriching to you on a personal level. Whether you’re interested in anime cartoons or Zen meditation, in the novels of Haruki Murakami or the films of Hayao Miyazaki, in the high aesthetics of Japanese food or Tokyo fashion, in flower arrangement, rock gardens, martial arts, tea ceremony, or all of the many other fascinating aspects of Japanese culture, this culture has so much to offer. It will enrich you intellectually and spiritually for the rest of your life.
There are many opportunities open to students who major in Japanese. While some opt for careers in foreign relations, trade, commerce and tourism, others choose an academic path, such as teaching Japanese at schools in New Zealand or going on to MA and PhD degrees at Otago or elsewhere. A number of our graduates have also spent time in Japan under the Japanese government’s JET Programme. They work as assistant language teachers at Japanese schools or as coordinators for international relations at local government offices.
No former training is required, because we offer introductory Japanese for absolute beginners. If you have studied Japanese at secondary school for several years, you can enter our Intermediate Japanese papers directly, and study toward advanced levels.
We teach Japanese with communicative methods and simultaneously develop students’ skills in speaking, reading, listening and writing. Frequent tutorials are provided to help students practice in small groups with native speakers. The core papers aim to develop students’ competency in the language to a level which enables them to read and converse without serious difficulty.
We teach Japanese culture through Japanese film, literature, history and society. There is a good balance between lectures taught by teachers and seminars involving students’ discussions and presentations. Training in critical thinking, research, and academic writing is provided in all our culture papers.
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.
- Diploma in Language (DipLang)
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom)
- Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc)
- Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons))
- Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts)
- Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework))
- Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis))
Diploma in Language (DipLang) endorsed in Japanese
|Seven of: |
Students admitted directly to papers at 200- or 300-level must replace their prerequisites with other papers in the subject concerned
Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Japanese
JAPA 131 Introductory Japanese 1
JAPA 132 Introductory Japanese 2
JAPA 231 Intermediate Japanese
JAPA 233 Business and Professional Japanese
JAPA 331 Advanced Japanese 1
JAPA 332 Advanced Japanese 2
Note: Students with previous knowledge of Japanese will be placed in JAPA papers appropriate to their level. Students placed in 200- or 300-level language papers will still have to pass approved papers worth 180 points in order to major in Japanese.
198 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.
Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts
Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) in Japanese
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (PGDipArts) in Japanese
The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) programme in Japanese is the same as the programme for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)).
Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework)) in Japanese
JAPA 441 Advanced Topics in Japanese
and two other approved 400-level papers
Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Japanese
Note: Students who have not completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA(Hons)) in Japanese or a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Japanese must complete the required papers for the BA(Hons) in Japanese prior to undertaking the thesis.
Minor subject requirements
Japanese as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree
Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree
Five JAPA papers, at least three of which must be above 100-level, including at least one at 300-level.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website
|Paper code||Year||Title||Points||Teaching period|
|JAPA131||2023||Introductory Japanese 1||18 points||Semester 1, Summer School|
|JAPA132||2023||Introductory Japanese 2||18 points||Semester 2|
|JAPA231||2023||Intermediate Japanese||18 points||Semester 1|
|JAPA233||2023||Business and Professional Japanese||18 points||Semester 2|
|JAPA242||2023||Understanding Japanese Culture||18 points||Semester 2|
|JAPA243||2023||Issues in Japanese Culture Today||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|JAPA244||2023||Modern Japanese Fiction||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|JAPA331||2023||Advanced Japanese 1||18 points||Semester 1|
|JAPA332||2023||Advanced Japanese 2||18 points||Semester 2|
|JAPA342||2023||Understanding Japanese Culture||18 points||Semester 2|
|JAPA343||2023||Issues in Japanese Culture Today||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|JAPA344||2023||Modern Japanese Fiction||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|JAPA351||2023||The Structure of the Japanese Language||18 points||Semester 2|
|JAPA352||2023||Language Cosplay: Japanese Language in Anime and Beyond||18 points||Semester 1|
|JAPA441||2023||Advanced Topics in Japanese||20 points||Semester 1, Semester 2|
|JAPA451||2023||Studies in Japanese||20 points||Semester 1, Semester 2|
|JAPA452||2023||Studies in Japanese 2||20 points||Semester 1, Semester 2|
|JAPA490||2023||Dissertation||60 points||Semester 1, Semester 2|
|JAPA590||2023||Research Dissertation||60 points||1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period|
Key information for future students
School of Arts
Languages and Cultures Programme