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									                                                 Programme Specification
                    A statement of the knowledge, understanding and skills that underpin a
                                    taught programme of study awarded by
                                          The University of Sheffield

 1    Programme Title                          Japanese Language and Society (by Distance Learning)
 2    Programme Code                           EAST15 (Japan); EAST25 (UK, Europe, Other)
 3    JACS Code (if applicable)                N/A
 4    Level of Study                           Postgraduate
 5    Final Qualification                      MA
 6    Intermediate Qualification(s)            Certificate, Diploma
      Teaching Institution
 7                                             Sheffield and Japan (for residentials and examination weekends)
      (if not Sheffield)
 8    Faculty                                  Social Sciences
 9    Home Department                          East Asian Studies
      Other Department(s) involved in
10                                             None
      teaching the programme
11    Mode(s) of Attendance                    Part-time
                                               Diploma: normally 18 months
                                               MA: normally 30 months (the regulations for this programme state that '....
12    Duration of the Programme
                                               it shall be pursued for not less than two years and shall be subject to a
                                               time limit of five years.')
      Accrediting Professional or
13                                             N/A
      Statutory Body (if applicable)
14    Date of production/revision              December 2004

15. Background to the programme and subject area

The MA degree in Japanese Language and Society (by Distance Learning) embraces the languages, history,
society and culture of Japan. Japan is playing and will play a major role in the world, whether from the point of view
of economics, politics or culture. One of the central task of the world system in the twenty-first century will be the
accommodation of the rising economic, political and cultural influence of East Asia, including Japan and the
The MA in Japanese Language and Society (by distance learning) is one of the programmes offered by the School of
East Asian Studies, which was founded here at Sheffield University in 1963. Established originally as a Centre for
Japanese Studies, the School has expanded over time, adding Centres for Korean Studies and Chinese Studies in
1988 and 1993 respectively. With a large number of research-active staff, who combine teaching with research at the
frontiers of knowledge on subjects as diverse as business, economics, international relations, politics, film, identity,
literature, migration and history, the School has grown to be one of the largest and most distinguished departments
of its kind in the world. Its teaching, renowned nationally for its focus on contemporary East Asia, on the acquisition
of practical language skills and on the use of social science methodologies, was rated 'excellent' in the most recent
government-sponsored survey of teaching quality.
The MA dates from 1999, when it was launched as a distance-learning version of the in-house MA in Japanese
Language and Society following on from the successful distance learning MA in Advanced Japanese Studies which
was awarded a Japan Festival prize for innovation in education. The programme is aimed at those who already have
gained an intermediate level of Japanese (around Level 3 of the Japan Foundation Japanese Language Test) and
seek to develop their written and spoken language ability whilst pursuing in-depth study of contemporary Japanese
society. Since the launch of the distance-learning MA over 350 students around the world have taken up the
opportunity to study with the School.
Taking this degree by distance learning means that students can take this step from anywhere in the world without
having to give up their present job and relocate to Sheffield. Text and audio materials have been developed to teach
the written and spoken language which is supplemented by telephone interviews with native speakers of Japanese
as well as face to face teaching at residential weekends in Sheffield and/or Japan. On-line seminars, audio and
written DL materials, guided reading and independent research provide specific knowledge in the areas of

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   contemporary Japanese society (education, the media, the role of women, politics, economics and religion) or
   modern history (depending on module choice).
   Graduates in languages, including those in Japanese Studies, have always been highly employable. The growing
   influence of Japan in the world means that they are becoming still more sought-after across the entire spectrum of
   careers in business, finance, administration, communications and education. More generally, there is a strong and
   growing need for the combination of analytical, cultural and linguistic expertise that our degree programmes in
   Japanese Studies develop. In addition, the degree programmes help inculcate a wide range of generic skills, such as
   word-processing, internet usage, the use of audio-visual and other communicative technology, the giving of
   individual and group presentations, and other activities.
   Further information is available on the School website:

   16. Programme aims

   The MA Distance Learning programme in Japanese Language and Society offered by the School of East Asian
   Studies has the following general aims consonant with the Mission Statement of the University of Sheffield:
 1. to provide high-quality teaching at postgraduate level, informed and invigorated by the research and scholarship of
  the Department’s staff and alert to the benefits of student-centred forms of learning which foster transferable
  analytical and communicative skills;
 2. to provide for the acquisition of practical Japanese language skills alongside a thorough awareness and
  understanding of the Japanese cultural context;
 3. to sustain a culture of research and teaching that is able to foster the free pursuit of knowledge, the impartial
  analysis of values, and the acquisition of intercultural awareness, and of informed and professional attitudes towards
  Japan, its culture and society;
 4. to respond to the diversity of student interests by allowing an appropriate level of student choice within the
  Japanese Language and Society programme;
  5. to widen access by allowing study by distance learning from any part of the world;
  6. to enable students to maximise their potential in all aspects of the course;
  7. to assess students over a range of knowledge, understanding and skills, and to identify and support academic

   17. Programme learning outcomes
   Having successfully completed the MA programme in Japanese Language and Society by distance learning, a
   student will have acquired:

   Knowledge and understanding:
   K1    A sound knowledge and critical understanding of the structures and usage of modern Japanese.
   K2    An awareness of translation issues involved in Japanese-English/English-Japanese translation.
   K3    A sound knowledge and critical understanding of key aspects of Japanese contemporary society or modern
         Japanese history (depending on module choice).
   K4    A sound knowledge and critical understanding of the methodologies used to analyze language and society

   Skills and other attributes:
   S1      Competence in writing and speaking modern Japanese
   S2      Competence in understanding written and spoken forms of modern Japanese
   S3      A high level of intercultural awareness, derived from the study of the Japanese language and Japanese
           society, leading to professional and informed attitudes to the language and culture.
   S4      Skills in acquiring, using, and critically evaluating information about language and culture gained from a
           variety of sources, including tutors, native speakers, newspapers, broadcasts, books and works of reference,
           and electronic sources
   S5      Well-developed analytical and essay-writing skills.
   S6      The capacity to make an oral presentation to a small group and to respond to questions.
   S7      The ability to carry out individual study and research, and to participate in group activities such as seminars
           and online discussion.
   S8      Well-developed IT skills based around email, online discussion via bulletin boards, and use of the internet for
           gaining access to electronic resources, including the use of Japanese for such purposes

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S9       Further transferable skills, valuable for employment, including information gathering, the development of
         individual resourcefulness, analytical thinking, the ability to identify problems and ways of resolving them, the
         critical appreciation of Japanese source material, the ability to construct and sustain logical argument on the
         basis of such material, and the ability to present such argument clearly in both oral and written forms
S10      The ability to carry out an extended piece of research based upon a critical appreciation of some primary and
         a wide range of secondary source materials
18. Teaching, learning and assessment

Development of the learning outcomes is promoted through the following teaching and learning methods:
      1. Orientation Weekend: Held at the start of the programme for the purpose of general orientation to
         programme, distribution of handbooks and materials, and teaching of study skills. Sessions include: spoken
         and written language classes, essay writing/research skills, information on the various services available for
         DL (distance learning) students offered by the School and the University, etc.
      2. Text and audio materials are used in order to impart essential knowledge relating to K1-K4 above. Model
         answers for language units are provided for self-checking.
      3. Comprehensive feedback on assignments designed to highlight strengths and weaknesses of a student’s
         work is particularly important in a DL programme when opportunities for face-to-face teaching are limited.
      4. Telephone interviews with native speakers designed to monitor student progress and ability to use the
         language introduced in the distance learning materials. Drills and role plays are used to improve student's
         spoken and listening skills. (S1) Oral feedback on performance is given over the phone and comprehensive
         written feedback is sent to the student later.
      5. Seminars (face-to-face and online), which may be either staff-led or student-led, are used for both
         language units and units devoted to modern history and contemporary society (depending on module
         choice). They are designed to reinforce information imparted through the DL materials by allowing students
         to work through, analyze, understand and respond to that information. Seminars devoted to Japanese
         language acquisition may take the form of classes devoted to translation both from and into Japanese,
         production of written Japanese, oral/aural comprehension, etc. In all cases the aim is to expose students to
         as much authentic material in Japanese as possible, both written and spoken. Language classes led by
         native speakers are conducted in Japanese. Seminars thus contribute both to the achievement of knowledge
         and understanding (K1-K4) and to the development of key skills (S1-S4, S6, S7).
      6. Independent study is essential to the successful completion of the programme. The amount of independent
         study broadly expected for each unit is clearly set out in the course information, although it is recognised that
         this will vary from student to student. Independent study is generally geared towards the assimilation and
         further clarification of material gleaned from distance learning materials, online discussion, preparation for
         seminars, preparation for written assessments, and the broader development of knowledge of the field of
         study. Independent study thus contributes to the development of all the programme learning outcomes, but is
         especially important in refining skills S3-S5, S8-S10.
      7. Residential periods. During the course of the programme, two four day 'residential weekends' are held.
         These supplement distance learning by allowing face-to-face seminars to be held, facilitate formative
         assessment (by allowing feedback to be given in person) and enable students to raise issues and explore
         issues of interest. These residential periods contribute both to the achievement of knowledge and
         understanding (K1-K4) and to the development of key skills (S1-S4, S6, S7).

Opportunities to demonstrate achievement of the programme learning outcomes are provided through the
following assessment methods:
Regular formative assessment – in the form of assessed language assignments and telephone interviews
designed to reinforce knowledge and skills such as vocabulary acquisition, language production (written and
spoken), language comprehension (written and spoken), translation to and from Japanese – is used to monitor
carefully the student’s progression through the core language programme and to pick up and rectify areas of
potential weakness in linguistic competence (K1, K2, S1, S2).
Summative assessment:
Formal written examinations designed to test the student’s ability to demonstrate productive and receptive written
target-language skills (S1, S2)
Oral examinations designed to test the student’s ability to demonstrate productive and receptive spoken target-

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language skills (S1, S2)

Assessed essays designed to test subject knowledge, autonomy in student learning and the development of
transferable skills (K3-K4, S3-S5, S7-S10)
An examination weekend must also be attended as part of the programme (either in Sheffield or Hiroshima).
The dissertation is designed to assess the ability of a student to successfully complete an in-depth piece of
research (20,000 words) based substantially on primary as well as secondary materials (S2-S6), and demonstrate
understanding of the topic and their analytical and critical skills (K1-K4, S7-S10)

19. Reference points

The learning outcomes have been developed to reflect the following points of reference: the research
interests of departmental staff and the research strategy of the School of East Asian Studies; the Mission Statement
of the University of Sheffield, as presented in its Corporate Plan; the Learning and Teaching Strategy of the
University of Sheffield; the appropriate qualification descriptors contained in the QAA Framework for Higher
Education Qualifications in England Wales and Northern Ireland – January 2001; and the QAA Subject Benchmark
Statement – Languages and Related Studies, March 2001.

20. Programme structure and regulations

The primary focus of this MA degree is on language acquisition, and it is designed to raise a student's language level
from intermediate to advanced level. The 'studies' (non-language) modules complement the language modules by
providing for the study of Japanese culture, history and society. A student must complete 180 credits in all to proceed
to the MA degree. More specifically, the Japanese Language and Society programme comprises the following
       Core language modules which cover both the written and spoken language (100 credits in total)
       A choice of either a module on modern Japanese history or on contemporary Japanese society (20 credits)
       A 20,000 word dissertation (60 credits) on an aspect of contemporary Japanese society or modern Japanese

Detailed information about the structure of programmes, regulations concerning assessment and progression and
descriptions of individual modules are published in the University Calendar available on-line at

21. Progression through the programme structure

Diploma level:
Students take four core language Units and one “studies” module:
     Japanese the Written Language 1 (30 credits) and Japanese the Spoken Language 1 (20 credits)
   These units develop students’ Japanese language skills so that they can read and understand Japanese texts
   that employ all the basic structures of Modern Standard Japanese and take part with increased confidence and
   accuracy in everyday conversations. They should also begin to acquire an understanding of polite speech (keigo)
   so that they are able to interact with Japanese people appropriately in the confidence that their contributions to
   the transaction are acceptable and appropriate.
       Japanese the Written Language II (30 credits) and Japanese the Spoken Language II (20 credits)
    These units further develop students’ Japanese language skills so that they can deal with authentic modern
    Japanese texts with the aid of dictionaries and express themselves in writing or speech with reasonable
    confidence and fluency on a range of topics in both informal and formal situations
       A choice of one out of two 'studies' modules, designed to deepen students’ understanding of modern
        Japanese history or aspects of contemporary Japanese society. Course materials and readings are in
        English and familiarise students with the key concepts, terminology and methodologies involved in the study
        of Japan.
Students who have acquired 60 credits may exit the programme with a Postgraduate Certificate in Japanese
Language and Society, and students with 120 credits may exit the programme with a Postgraduate Diploma in
Japanese Language and Society if they so desire.
At MA level, the programme provides the opportunity to bring together the knowledge, understanding and skills
acquired in the previous two years to produce either an in-depth study of some aspect of contemporary Japanese

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society or modern Japanese history in the form of a dissertation.

22. Criteria for admission to the programme

Detailed information regarding admission to the programme is available in the University’s On-Line Prospectus at
(a) A good first degree;
(b) Language requirement: basic Japanese grammar, a vocabulary of about 1,000 words and approximately 250-300
kanji. Evidence of this prior learning will be necessary in the form of either a pass at Level 3 of the Japan Foundation
Proficiency Test or successful completion of our diagnostic test. Those who are not at this stage can take the
Japanese Language Course (link) to bring them to the required entry level.

23. Additional information

For further information students are directed to the School web pages at

This specification represents a concise statement about the main features of the programme and should be
considered alongside other sources of information provided by the teaching department(s) and the University. In
addition to programme specific information, further information about studying at The University of Sheffield can be
accessed via our Student Services web site at

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