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Japanese (MPhil / PhD)

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

Our aim is to assist you with the transition to become a fully fledged, independent academic researcher. Our doctoral programme is geared towards enabling you to produce top-quality work that questions the boundaries of the disciplines we work in and seeks to bring new materials, theories and methods into them. Becoming a successful academic researcher is achieved on the basis of a full appreciation of the hallmarks of good scholarship, such as original thought, the proper use of references and background material, appropriate use of methodology and reporting procedures, and it is these priorities that we aim to impart to our students.

Once equipped with the generic and discipline-specific tools for carrying out research, you will pursue your particular research interests, supported by regular meetings with your supervisors and attendance at the MPhil/PhD seminars. We seek to create a mutually supportive environment, informed by discussion and dialogue.

MPhil students may be required to take appropriate courses from MA programmes offered by the School of Arts in their first year.

Highlights

  • Arts and humanities at Birkbeck are ranked fifth best in London, 18th in the UK and 87th globally in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • In the 2014 REF, Modern Languages and Linguistics achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 73% of our research was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • The School of Arts is an official partner of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Opportunities for students have included a year’s free membership of the ICA, private views, discounts on all talks and events, free members' screenings and £3 cinema tickets on Tuesdays, up to 25% off ICA Artists' Editions and a monthly e-newsletter.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    A good honours degree with a Japan-related subject as a main component.

    Graduates in other subjects may be asked to take a qualifying examination.

    You will need to submit a 2000-word research proposal prior to interview.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £2296 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £4327 pa
    Part-time international students: £6375 pa
    Full-time international students: £12625 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Fees and finance

    From 2018-19, PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of up to £25,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

    Outstanding MPhil/PhD researchers are encouraged to apply for our competitive scholarships and studentships, which cover fees and maintenance. Read more and apply now

    Birkbeck has a longstanding academic partnership with the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, which aims to promote the study of Japanese culture and history in UK higher education. Prospective PhD students in this area are able to apply for one of 30 studentships awarded nationally by the GBSF each year, worth £10,000 per year. If you need further information, contact Professor Tim Markham.

    Find out more about other research funding opportunities at Birkbeck. 

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees

  • Our Research Culture

    Our Research Culture

    Research students collaborate through departmental research seminars and are encouraged to participate in academic conferences. In your first year you will undertake research methods training, and in subsequent years there are opportunities to develop your skills in academic teaching.

    As a research student, you will be given help to establish contacts in Japan with universities and individual scholars working in your subject area. We encourage our research students to carry out fieldwork and research in Japan, and to that end, provide support for grant applications. Our students have studied in such prestigious universities as University of Tokyo, Meijigakuin University, Hitotsubashi University and Waseda University, among others.

    Current research topics within the Department include:

    • Media Mixes and Global Flows: Rethinking Japanese Entertainment and Globalisation through the Italian Mediascape
    • Cultural Identity in Post-Redress Canadian Nikkei Cultural Productions
    • Representations of South Asians in Contemporary Japanese Popular Culture
    • Yaoi and Online Fan Practices: A Netnographic Approach to an Online Yaoi Manga Fan Community
    • The Evolution of Female Identities in Japanese Television
    • An Analysis of Production, Circulation and Consumption of J-dorama.

    You are expected to participate in the Department's research events, including attending lectures, research skills sessions and other classes/workshops as appropriate.

    Read more about our vibrant research culture.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    Follow these steps to apply to an MPhil/PhD research degree at Birkbeck:

    1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as described on this page.

    2. Find a potential supervisor for your MPhil/PhD research. You can look at the Find a Supervisor area on this page for an overview, or search our Experts’ Database or browse our staff pages for more in-depth information. You may also find it helpful to view the research projects of our current students.

    3. Contact the academic member of staff - or the department they teach in - for an informal discussion about your research interests and to establish if they are willing and able to supervise your research. (Please note: finding a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission to the research degree, as this decision is made using your whole application.) Find out more about the supervisory relationship and how your supervisor will support your research.

    4. Draft a research proposal. This needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the field, the specific research questions you wish to pursue, and how your ideas will lead to the creation of new knowledge and understanding. Find out more about writing a research proposal.

    5. Apply directly to Birkbeck, using the online application link on this page. All research students are initially registered on an MPhil and then upgrade to a PhD after making sufficient progress.

    Find out more about the application process, writing a research proposal and the timeframe

    For in-depth information about applying to the School of Arts for MPhil/PhD research, read our guide for applicants.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You can apply at any time during the year. Entry months for the programme are October and January of each year.

    If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

  • Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    A critical factor when applying for postgraduate study in Japanese is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the Department.

    The expertise of our academic staff covers a range of subjects in Japanese:

    • Popular culture in Japan and East Asia
    • National, transnational, racial/ethnic, or cultural identities in Japan and East Asia
    • Japanese and East Asian new media
    • Gender and sexuality studies
    • Japanese and East Asian creative industries
    • Japanese theatre and performance
    • Japanese visual arts.

    Joint supervisions for interdisciplinary projects can be arranged with other academic schools at Birkbeck.