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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Undergraduate Course: Researching Japan: mini-dissertation project (ASST08079)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is designed to help students acquire the skills necessary to conduct independent research in Japanese Studies. Students will be guided step by step through the process of turning ideas into questions, using library databases, evaluating the literature, selecting and applying relevant theories and methods, and finally writing a coherent and persuasive piece of research. Throughout the process, students will also consider the ethical implications of their work and their own positions as Area Studies researchers.
Course description 1) This course is designed to equip second year students with the essential skills and knowledge required to conduct independent research, which is a critical component of the third and fourth years of their degree. Through the writing of a mini-dissertation, students will be guided through each step of the research process, from generating compelling questions and understanding theoretical frameworks, to mastering methods, conducting literature reviews, addressing ethical considerations, and effectively writing up their findings, students will gain a comprehensive insight into the research process. What makes this course particularly appealing is the opportunity it provides for students to delve into a topic of personal interest in Japanese Studies, fostering a supportive and structured environment for their first foray into research. This hands-on experience is not only crucial for their forthcoming fieldwork in Japan during their year abroad, but also provides a solid foundation for their MA dissertation in fourth year. By bridging theoretical knowledge with practical application, this course combines academic learning with real-world research, ensuring that students are well prepared for more advanced research in their honours years.

2) The course takes students through a series of interrelated sessions that guide them through the research process in Japanese studies. The course begins with transforming initial ideas into focused research questions, using tools such as mind maps to visualise research topics. Students then learn to use library resources effectively, leading to the process of writing literature reviews. A strong emphasis is also placed on understanding the theory and methodology specific to answering questions in Japanese studies, coupled with the ethical considerations essential to Area Studies research. The course concludes with sessions on constructing coherent arguments and structuring academic writing. Throughout, practical elements such as peer learning, small group supervision by staff with relevant expertise, and exploration of research resources are integrated to ensure a dynamic and responsive learning experience.

3) Researching Japan engages students in an interactive learning environment through seminars that combine theoretical discussions with practical case studies and activities. These seminars are designed not only to introduce key research themes, but also to actively engage students in applying these concepts to their own research projects. Student engagement is further encouraged through weekly assignments that complement their independent research and develop skills in question formulation, literature synthesis and the application of theory and methodology. This is complemented using a variety of online materials and Japanese Studies databases (e.g. Japan Times, Asahi, Japan Knowledge) available via the library. The course assesses students through the final mini-dissertation and a reflective piece on their research process. Feedback is provided weekly by both peers and academic staff during seminars and tutorials.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Japanese Language Beginner (ASST08059) AND Japanese Language Post Beginner (ASST08058)) OR ( Japanese Language Post Beginner (ASST08058) AND Japanese Language Pre-Intermediate (ASST08057)) OR ( Japanese Language Pre-Intermediate (ASST08057) AND Japanese Language Lower Intermediate (ASST08060))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 33, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework.«br /»
«br /»
1 x 3000-word mini-dissertation.«br /»
1 x 500-word reflective essay.
Feedback Students will receive verbal feedback from course staff on their projects during tutorial discussions. Students will receive one-to-one feedback on a dissertation plan (formative) in the second half of the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Consider issues of scope, relevance, and access to evidence to refine areas of research interest into research questions.
  2. Use library resources effectively to locate and assess secondary literature related to a research area.
  3. Apply relevant research frameworks to answer questions in Japanese Studies.
  4. Assess the ethical implications of research projects.
  5. Reflect critically on their own work.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsJapan,Asian Studies,East Asia,institutions,politics,cultural theory,research training
Course organiserDr Christopher Perkins
Tel: (0131 6)50 4174
Course secretary
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