Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Modern Japan: from Samurai to Salary Men
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 50 minute sessions
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 50 minute sessions
Seminars / Tutorials Individual 10-minute 'feedback tutorial' per written assignment submitted


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   (1 x 3 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   1 x 3 hour supplementary (resit) examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a firm understanding of current approaches to and on-going debates on the history of modern Japan.

Demonstrate an understanding of the political, economic, social and cultural development of modern Japan.

Demonstrate an ability to use and reflect critically upon a range of relevant primary and secondary material.

Demonstrate an ability to analyse relevant historical literature to produce appropriate arguments both oral (not assessed) and written.

Demonstrate an ability to work independently.

Demonstrate the skills appropriate to the study of the history of modern Japan and produce work in a professional manner.

Brief description

This module covers the history of Japan from the 'Great Peace' of the Tokugawa period beginning in the seventeenth century to modern times. It looks at the rapid modernization and imperial expansion of Japan and war in Asia and the Pacific from 1933 and then the US-led occupation and the post-war 'economic miracle' that followed. It will trace the decline of the feudal system and the end of national seclusion, rapid modernization, rising nationalism and imperial expansion from the end of the nineteenth century. It will also cover experiments in 'Taisho democracy' and the growth of a middle class culture of consumption before the descent into war. While the focus is on political developments, the course will also look closely at changes in society and culture.


Lectures (twice a week):
1. Introduction
2. The Tokugawa State
3. 'The Samurai Spirit'? Economic Growth and Edo Culture
4. Understanding the decline of the Tokugawa Bakufu
5. Unequal Treats and the Meiji Restoration
6. The Invention of Modern Japan
7. Building the Meiji State
8. Taisho Modernity
9. Culture and Consumption
10. Taisho Democracy?
11. Showa Fascism?
12. Japan's Total War
13. Enduring Defeat and the American occupation
14. Japans Economic Miracle
15. Political culture and cultural politics in post-war Japan
16. Japan, Southeast Asia and the Cold War
17. Japan and China in the post-war era
18. Beyond Post-war / Cold War?

Seminars (weekly):
1. The role of the samurai in Tokugawa Japan
2. The Meiji Restoration
3. Social transformation in post-restoration Japan
4. Understanding Imperial Japan and its territorial expansion
5. Taisho Democracy
6. Japan and the war with America
7. Dealing with humiliation after World War II
8. The Economic Miracle
9. Japan's international relations and the Cold War
10. The lost decades and the future of Japanese modernity


To provide students with a detailed knowledge of modern Japanese history.
To facilitate familiarity and engagement with the political, economic, social and cultural development of Japan over the past four centuries, helping students to make complex arguments using a range of largely secondary sources.
To encourage the acquisition of critical skills to be used to analyze relevant historiographical developments.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop an awareness of appropriate sources and historical literature associated with the study of modern Japan. They will be encouraged to think about the importance of Japan in shaping the history of the Asia-Pacific region.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6