Back to:Japanese major

Our Japanese program is one of the largest in Australia. The language subjects, taught at a range of levels from beginner to advanced, are designed to maximise acquisition of the language and to develop your communication skills in various types of texts, interactional contexts and strategic aspects of meaning-making.

You will also develop a broad understanding of cultural, social and historical aspects of Japan. Japanese Studies subjects such as Social Problems in Japan help you understand the complexity and diversity of the society, and challenge stereotypes.

Teaching staff create a meeting place where students from a variety of cultural backgrounds can explore intercultural language activities to promote intercultural as well as communicative competence. 

Japanese language study at the University of Melbourne is also available in the Diploma in Languages

Careers

  • Communications
  • Community development
  • Diplomacy
  • Government
  • International relations
  • Multinational business
  • Teaching
  • Translation and interpretation

Subjects you could take in this major

  • This subject is designed for students with no Japanese learning background. Students will develop essential foundation of Japanese literacy in order to be able to engage in social events and situations in an appropriate manner, while drawing on their background knowledge in their first language. Students will be introduced to the two sets of Japanese syllabaries (hiragana and katakana) and around 60 kanji characters. Students will develop communication skills required to deal with initial social encounters (self-introduction and greetings), exchanging information on everyday life routines and surroundings, and activities in which they are likely to engage in establishing a new life in a foreign country (e.g. shopping, finding ways). Students will also develop skills to enable them to get by in everyday life in Japan. In addition, students will develop intercultural understanding through identification of common Japanese rituals and routines, reflecting on their own culture and comparing between them.

  • This subject is designed for students who have successfully completed Japanese 1 or those who have similar experience. In this subject, students will establish basic Japanese literacy in order to be able to engage in social events and situations in an appropriate manner, while drawing on their background knowledge in their first language. Students will be introduced to around 100 new kanji characters. They will develop communication skills required to deal with giving and receiving information on people, places and events based on personal experiences. Students will also learn to engage in transactional activities such as requesting and offering, and responding to those. Students will develop literacy to communicate in Japanese effectively through basic narrative writing by recounting. In addition, students will develop intercultural understanding through identification of common Japanese rituals and routines, reflecting on their own culture and comparing between them.

  • This subject is designed for students who have successfully completed Japanese 1 and 2, or Year 12 Japanese curriculum and can recognise around 150 kanji characters. In this subject, students will be introduced to around 100 new kanji characters. Students will develop skills to collect and use relevant information from published resources associated with history, travel and transport. Students will develop literacy through writing short informative area guides for a general audience. They will develop communication skills required to deal with giving and receiving gifts and favours, along with understanding of Japanese social norms such as reciprocity. Students will have opportunities to collaborate and interact with peers from different backgrounds. In addition, students will develop intercultural understanding through identification of common Japanese rituals and routines in giving gifts, suggestions and orders, then draw comparison between their own cultural practices.


  • This subject is designed for students who have successfully completed Japanese 3 and can recognise around 250 Kanji characters. In this subject, students will be introduced to around 100 new Kanji characters. They will develop communication skills to deal with formal interaction genres such as service encounters and job interviews. Students will also be introduced to formal written correspondence genre, such as thank-you letters and emails using honorific expressions. Students will have an opportunity to conduct online research about the Japanese writing system, and engage in discussion and interaction with others to put intercultural communication into practice. Students will also have an opportunity to engage in peer-review and will interact with other students. In addition, students will develop intercultural understanding through identification of common Japanese methods and routines in expressing personal feelings, then draw comparison between their own culture.

  • This subject is for students who already possess basic Japanese language skills and knowledge of Japan, and have completed Japanese 4 and can recognise around 400 Kanji characters, or those who have equivalent experience in Japanese. This subject provides a basic preparation for students to engage in academic research using Japanese. It aims to further develop students’ Japanese communication skills by examining the language of various registers and discourse. Students will also develop awareness of differences between and within spoken and written Japanese used in different situations. Students will have an exposure to various Japanese written texts of different genres such episodes, stories, essays, etc. to understand differences in their rhetorical structures (e.g., narrative, descriptive, and expository). Students will also have the opportunity to practice variations of spoken Japanese (colloquial, polite, formal) depending on the relationship between the participants of the conversations. Through class activities, such as discussions and a small research project, students will build further vocabulary and expressions, including around 150 additional kanji characters. In addition, students will develop interpersonal skills to present themselves appropriately in intercultural situations.

  • This subject is for students who have completed Japanese 5 or those who have basic language skills and knowledge of Japan and can recognise around 500 kanji characters, or those who have equivalent experience in Japanese. This subject provides a preparation for students to engage in academic research using Japanese. It aims to further develop students’ Japanese communication skills through discussions and task-based collaborative work. Students will critically examine issues and phenomena prevalent in Japan from various perspectives. Students will have further exposure to various Japanese essays in different genres (e.g., survey reports, essays of critical and or analytical nature) to understand differences in their rhetorical structures. The subject covers wide ranging topics about Japan but they will be examined in global perspectives. Students will also have the opportunity to practise variations of spoken Japanese by applying Japanese honorific system rules to the situation, depending on the relationship between the participants of the conversations. Through class activities, such as discussions and a small research project, students will build further vocabulary and expressions, including around 150 additional kanji characters. In addition, students will further develop intercultural and interpersonal skills to create rapport to achieve positive outcomes.

  • This subject is designed for students who have completed Japanese 6 and can recognise around 600 kanji characters, or those who have similar experience. This subject will enhance students’ academic literacy skills to conduct research related to Japan/Japanese. Students will establish advanced Japanese literacy and background knowledge in order to engage in international issues surrounding Japan. Students will develop understanding of various genres through reading, and discussing issues in modern Japanese society. Students will be engaged in a small scale research project on chosen topics by further investigating the issue and by writing an opinion piece and presenting it to the class. Through the research project they will develop their research skills and will equip themselves with critical literacy by analysing issues in question from various perspectives and participating in small group discussions.

  • This subject is designed for students who have completed Japanese 7 and can recognise around 800 kanji characters, or those who have similar experience. It will enhance students’ academic literacy skills to conduct in-depth research related to Japan/Japanese. Students will establish advanced Japanese literacy and background knowledge in order to engage in international issues surrounding Japan. Students will develop understanding of various genres through reading, and discussing issues in modern Japanese society. Students will engage in a small scale research project on one of the chosen topics by further investigating the issue and by writing an opinion piece and presenting it to the class. Through the research project they will develop their research skills and will equip themselves with intercultural literacy by analysing issues from various perspectives and participating in group discussions. Additionally, students will also develop agency and critical perspective as a Japanese language user participating in the global community.

  • This subject aims to familiarise students with authentic literary Japanese texts. Students will read various forms and styles of reading materials including well-known Japanese novels and poems. In class, students will learn new vocabulary, phrases, and expressions. They will also learn useful reading strategies. The study of Japanese culture-specific language use in various contexts and its historical background is explored. On completion of this subject, students should develop further understanding of cultural-specific language. Students who complete this subject are expected to have gained confidence to read other contemporary Japanese texts on their own. The medium of instruction is entirely Japanese.

  • This subject aims to familiarise students with colloquial and dialectal expressions used in Japan. It introduces students to various styles of Japanese spoken by those differentiated by gender, age and region. It will also give students opportunities to examine different registers in various conversation settings. In class, students will view DVDs and analyse various types of conversations. Students will practice speaking in appropriate styles depending on the situation. Students who complete this subject should have acquired good knowledge of the diverse range of Japanese language practice.

  • This subject examines basic themes in contemporary Japanese society, as well as commonly used theoretical models. Topics for discussion include the tension between individuals and collective society; notions of regional, gender and age-based status identities and the effects of social change. Students are expected to think critically about current events in Japan and apply these ideas to their own culture and society.

  • This subject aims to supplement core Japanese language subjects with key analytical tools and strategies. They should enable students to engage in interactions in Japanese effectively in achieving intended social and communicative goals. Students will be introduced to Japanese sound systems, key characteristics of conversational patters, and socio-culturally rigid as well as negotiable aspects of the language.

  • This subject aims to advance learners' Japanese acquisition with a focus on the grammatical aspects of the Japanese language. The subject asks students to re-think the rules they were taught at earlier stages of their Japanese learning in terms of how they function in real Japanese conversation and writing. Students explore Japanese expressions in different situations and learn grammatical functions in communication. They are also given opportunities to develop 'language sensitivity' by deepening their comprehension of language use in various situations. Students who complete this subject should gain better control of the language and greater knowledge about how grammar develops and regulates language use in actual situations.

  • This subject focuses on key social and political issues that are part of the public discourse in the media in Japan and Australia. These may include topics such as Japan’s aging society, education and language policies, gender equality, disaster relief and recovery, youth issues and fads/fashions. It compares the coverage of these issues in print and electronic media, including websites and television programming. Through project work and classroom discussions, students will analyse and engage with contemporary media. Students will also develop an understanding of media idioms and usage, culturally specific expressions and Japanese socio-cultural norms.

  • This subject aims to provide students an overview of the current Japanese writing system, consisting of three types of script, kanji, hiragana and katakana. Students will learn the historical backgrounds of these types of script, and learn the current structural and functional characteristics of each type of script in writings by analysing how it is used in writings. Students will ahve opportunities to observe the recent chnages in the use of the script and other signs and symbols, and analyse their functions in relation to other words. Students who complete this subject will gain knowledge of Japanese words, and developskills for the accurate comprehension and appropriate reproduction of the words in reading and writing.

  • This subject introduces advanced learners of Japanese to two interrelated, but different, areas of language study: translation and interpreting. It provides the students with opportunities to understand and gain knowledge necessary for interpreting and translating. It involves the practice of interpreting and text translation in various settings and contexts. Students are also encouraged to explore the differences and similarities in various aspects of Japanese and English.

  • This subject focuses on key social and political issues that are part of the public discourse in the media in Japan and Australia. These may include topics such as Japan’s aging society, education and language policies, gender equality, disaster relief and recovery, youth issues and fads/fashions. It compares the coverage of these issues in print and electronic media, including websites and television programming. Through project work and classroom discussions, students will analyse and engage with contemporary media. Students will also develop an understanding of media idioms and usage, culturally specific expressions and Japanese socio-cultural norms.

  • This subject aims to prepare students for more specialised studies in Japanese society and culture. The subject offers interdisciplinary views of the political, economic, religious and cultural ideologies which foster inequality between different social groups in Japan. Students should become aware of the heterogeneous aspects of Japanese society, as well as the public and private institutions that deal with these issues, such as ethnicity, caste and disability. The subject will also include an examination of the relevant institutions (such as the family registry system, employment protection laws and social welfare programs) which promote or attack prejudice against heterogeneous social groups.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

You can read more on the the

Bachelor of Arts&Bachelor of Arts Extended