Module Catalogue 2019/20

HIS2140 : Survey History of Japan

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Philip Garrett
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 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

1. A foundational understanding of the key events in Japanese history from the first settled societies to the present day
2. A good knowledge of the historical development of the key social/political systems of the societies of the Japanese islands
3. A good knowledge of the social, economic, religious, and political aspects of Japanese culture, both premodern and modern
4. The development of understanding of the issues posed by long spans of history, from periodisation
and classification to the investigation of the 'big picture' in terms of long term trends and systemic change
5. Understanding of historical perceptions in Japan and in the West, and the effects of orientalism and exoticism on the international perception of Japan

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. Confidence in self-guided discovery of aspects of Japanese history arising from taught content
2. Practice in interpreting translated primary sources from across the span of Japanese history
3. An enhanced ability to consider history from a global perspective, and to make connections between the histories of different times and places
4. The development of the ability to formulate and answer historical questions, and to think about the relationship between ideas and events
5. The continuing development of capacity for independent study and critical judgment and the ability to respond cogently to new and unexpected questions arising from your study.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion661:0066:0040% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture231:0023:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading661:0066:0040% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Timetable surgery hours
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study321:0032:0020% of guided independent study
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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1352A60Unseen
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M402,000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
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 2019/20 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 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.