SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea

Introduction to Pre-Modern Japanese language

Module Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 2
Taught in:
Term 2


Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to read classical texts with the aid of a reference grammar and a classical dictionary. The knowledge gained about classical grammar and styles should also give students skills in understanding modern Japanese and in reading Japanese texts of all kinds and all eras.


A total of 11 weeks teaching with 3 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

The student will be introduced to classical Japanese initially by studying a grammar textbook with short examples from classical texts. The student, then, will read short sections from representative classical literary texts in annotated editions such as Tales of Ise, Hôjôki, Tale of the Heike, Nô plays, Bashô and Chikamatsu. 

Method of assessment

One two-hour written examination in May/June (70%); one x 1,000 word translation from Japanese into English to be submitted on the last day of term in which the course is taught (15%); one mid-term test (week 6) on classical grammar (15%).

Suggested reading

A reading list will be given to students registered on this course at the beginning of the term.
A coursepack will be available for students to purchase.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules