SOAS University of London: The best path to exciting careers in East Asia
Promoted by SOAS University of London

SOAS University of London: The best path to exciting careers in East Asia

The past 70 years have witnessed the meteoric rise of East Asia. China, Japan, and Korea have all become powerhouses of economic and social development, captivating the world with their vibrant cultures, hit TV shows and films, cuisines so impactful they double as soft power diplomacy, cutting-edge technology, and enthralling entertainment like manga, anime, K-pop, and J-pop.

Are you fascinated by this dynamic region and its rich history, or perhaps dream of a career in East Asia? The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at SOAS University of London — ranked 12th in the UK for Modern Languages (QS World University Rankings 2023) — offers master’s programmes in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Studies that provide a comprehensive and world-class understanding of these regions. Whether a student is a complete beginner or possesses existing East Asian language proficiency, SOAS offers intensive and less intensive language options, allowing students to tailor their programme to their specific needs and goals.

Being “the world’s university,” language is only one aspect of an SOAS education. Where it shines is in its decolonising approach covering multiple areas, from the region’s rich history and literature to its visual culture and contemporary social issues. An area studies degree at SOAS is by definition cross-disciplinary, allowing you to bring together methods and insights from the humanities and the social sciences.

The department offers a range of postgraduate programmes, including one-year master’s degrees in Chinese Studies, Korean Studies, and Japanese Studies (with part-time options available). For those seeking even deeper language immersion, two-year MA programmes with Intensive Language options are also available for Chinese, Korean, or Japanese.

SOAS offers master’s degrees that explore the dynamic region of East Asia and its rich history. Source: SOAS University of London

MA Chinese Studies

The MA Chinese Studies provides a comprehensive exploration of contemporary China, with the option to look closer into pre-modern aspects. Examples of modules include “Literature, Politics and National Identity in Modern China,” “New Taiwan Cinema and Beyond,” “Contemporary Chinese Society” and “Myths, Legends and Folkways of East Asia.”

The programme’s strength lies in its interdisciplinary approach, drawing on expertise from across SOAS, not just the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. Modules on Chinese society and culture from other departments, including History, Politics and International Studies, and the School of Arts, are available on this programme. This allows students to tailor their studies to their specific interests regardless of their background. Language study, though not mandatory, is a popular option, complemented by seminars hosted by the on-campus China Institute, home to the largest community of Chinese Studies scholars in Europe.

The centre is set to host Professor Geng Song’s talk on the role of new gender technologies in Chinese digital entertainment, author Stephen Vines’s reflections on the Hong Kong protests as they approach their fifth anniversary, and the launch of the Bloomsbury Handbook of Modern Chinese Literature in Translation — all in May alone.

MA Korean Studies

The MA Korean Studies is designed for those seeking advanced postgraduate study in Korea or as a standalone qualification. You’ll learn Korean history, politics, art, music, and literature while having opportunities to explore the region’s languages. For example, there are modules on “Trajectories of Modernity in Korean Literature and Film,” “Culture and Society in Traditional Korea,” “The Making of Modern Korea,” and “Contemporary Korean Society.” Like the China Studies programme, Korean language study isn’t required but highly recommended. For students with a higher level of Korean language, the department also offers a module in Korean to English translation.

SOAS is home to the Centre of Korean Studies, the leading academic centre of its kind in Great Britain since its establishment, where there are regular seminars featuring international researchers and one of the largest concentrations of Korean Studies scholars in Europe. The centre hosts workshops and conferences organised by the likes of the British Association of Korean Studies (BAKS) and the Association of Korean Studies in Europe (AKSE) as well.

Being part of SOAS means being connected to a network of over 50,000 past and present students globally. Source: SOAS University of London

MA Japanese Studies

The MA Japanese Studies boasts the most comprehensive curriculum available in Europe. Students explore Japan’s history, social sciences, literature and popular culture, and everything in between, from the pre-modern era to the present day. Modules like “Identity and social relations in Japanese,” “Modernity, Nation and Identity in Japanese History,” and “Japanese Cinema” are chances for a critical overview of a nation that has established itself as a fearsome cultural as well as economic superpower.

SOAS’s Japan Research Centre and its shared partnership with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture provide additional platforms for engagement with leading scholars. A unique dual degree option with Sophia University is available, allowing students to earn a master’s degree from both institutions.

A key strength of these programmes lies in the vast expertise residing across SOAS, extending beyond the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. For example, if you’re interested in Japan, you can also take modules offered by faculty in Anthropology, History of Art, Religions, and Economics and Finance.

No matter which programme you choose, the best of London — arguably, the world’s most exciting and consequential capital city — is at your doorstep. You’ll live and learn in central London, which grants you access to world-class resources and a vibrant international community. International students can finesse their English language skills while developing a global perspective and network.

As SOAS is also ranked sixth in the UK for employability (QS World University Rankings 2023), this means that after earning an SOAS master’s degree, you have increased chances of pursuing your dream career. Recent graduates have ended up in Accenture, Google, European Commission, Bloomberg LP, KPMG, and many more.

Interested? Apply to the  Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures today.