Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Modern Japan: From Samurai to Salary Men
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 6 x 1 Hour Seminars


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

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate an understanding of historiographical debates on the history of modern Japan.

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

Identify and evaluate a range of relevant primary and secondary materials.

Demonstrate an ability to analyse and deploy relevant historical evidence to produce appropriate arguments.


The course will provide students with a detailed understanding of modern Japanese History, not only through an exploration of political and economic developments, but also cultural and social. In doing so it will introduce the main historical arguments that have shaped the writing of Japanese history and consider how those arguments have changed during the twentieth century. By tracing the rise of Japan as a major regional and then world power, it will add important context and breadth to students’ overall understanding of modern history.

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 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. It looks at the 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. While the focus is on political developments, the course will also look closely at changes in society and culture.


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?

1. Who were the Samurai?
3. Meiji Japan
4. Japanese Imperialism
5. Urban Culture in Taisho Japan
6. Japan and the Memory of World War II

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 5