Module Catalogue 2020/21

HIS2140 : Survey History of Japan

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Philip Garrett
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This course aims to survey the broad sweep of history in Japan, from the earliest societies to the present day. What were the patterns of governance, society, and culture? What influenced the political structure of the country spatially and institutionally in different periods? How did developments on the Asian continent affect Japan, and how did Japan interact with its neighbours? The survey will consider the big themes in Japanese history while examining the workings of its varied societies in detail.

The aims of this module are:
1. To introduce students to Japanese History and to the Japanese islands, from deep prehistory and the world’s first pottery to Japan as the world’s third-largest economy in 2015.
2. To provide students with an opportunity to understand history from a non-European perspective.
3. To enrich students’ understanding of East Asian cultural exchange and politics.
4. To encourage students to consider comparative links and difficulties between occidental and oriental history and historiography.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following is a guide only. Actual lecture titles may differ from those listed here.

Week 1
Lecture 1 Japan in Time and Space
Lecture 2 Japan in Theory
Seminar 1 Approaching the study of Japan

Week 2
Lecture 3 Prehistoric Archipelago, Early State Formation
Lecture 4 Cultural Contact and the Asuka Period
Seminar 2 Protohistoric Japan

Week 3
Lecture 5 The Nara Period 710-794
Lecture 6 The Heian Court 792-1185
Seminar 3 Classical Culture and Politics

Week 4
Lecture 7 Heian Japan 794-1185
Lecture 8 Belief and Ritual in premodern Japan
Seminar 4 'Religion' in Classical Japan

Week 5
Lecture 9 The Kamakura Shogunate, 1185/92-1333
Lecture 10 The Mongol Invasions and the end of the Kamakura Shogunate
Seminar 5 Early Medieval Japan

Week 6
Lecture 11 Civil War and Muromachi Japan, 1333-1467
Lecture 12 Japan in the Sixteenth Century
Seminar 6 Late Medieval Japan

Week 7
Lecture 13 Edo Japan 1: Political structure and the domains
Lecture 14 Edo Japan 2: Society and Culture
Seminar 7 The Tokugawa Period 1600-1868

Week 8
Lecture 15 The Meiji Restoration, 1868
Lecture 16 Industrial and Social Revolution
Seminar 8 The Meiji Period

Week 9
Lecture 17 Japan, Nation, Colonialism
Lecture 18 Life in Imperial Japan
Seminar 9 Nationalism and Colonialism

Week 10
Lecture 19 Japan at War
Lecture 20 Postwar Japan
Seminar 10 War and Atrocity in East Asia

Week 11
Lecture 21 Modern Japanese Society
Lecture 22 Japan and Asia in the Twenty-First Century
Seminar 11 Modern Japan and Asia

Week 12
Lecture 23 Modern Japanese Belief and Practice
Lecture 24 Revision drop in session
Seminar 12 Modern Japanese religion and society

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the completion of the module, students will:

• develop a broad understanding of premodern and modern Japanese cultures
• be able to interpret these through the interconnection of arts, religion, and society with politics and economics.
• be able to describe, contrast, and compare the social and political systems of the Japanese archipelago over the span of recorded history.
• be able to analyse and explain both longue durée trends and key events in Japanese history

This module covers the whole of Japanese history: the outcomes for you will depend on what you discover in your reading and discussions, and where your interests take you.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the completion of the module, students will:

• acquire a broader frame of reference in their understanding of historical time and global history
• evaluate comparative approaches to history and assess the strengths and weaknesses thereof
• develop their interpersonal skills though discussion and collaboration in seminars
• develop their ability to formulate and answer historical questions, especially the consideration of questions outside the scope and norms of Eurocentric historiography
• develop their capacity for independent study and critical judgment and of the ability to respond promptly, cogently and clearly to new and unexpected questions arising from this study.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion581:0058:00Weekly portfolio and summative essay
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials361:0036:00Podcasts and video, 2x delivery
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading591:0059:00Set, recommended, and further reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Synchronous online discussion, groups of up to 25. Needs timetabling
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion92:0018:00Discussion Board on weekly topic
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Drop-in surgery
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1. Lectures will provide an overview of the subject and general introduction to the relevant themes. They will also provide an introduction to the key historiographical and conceptual debates. They will impart core knowledge and an outline of the knowledge that students are expected to acquire. They will also stimulate development of listening and note-taking skills.
2. Seminars will encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M802,000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Portfolio1M20Weekly portfolio contribution of 200 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress.

The exam tests acquisition of a clear general knowledge of the subject plus the ability to think and analyse a problem quickly, to select from and to apply both the general knowledge and detailed knowledge of aspects of the subject to new questions, problem-solving skills, adaptability, the ability to work unaided, and to write clearly and concisely.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.