SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H283 Modern Japan

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2019/2020
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

This course examines the history of modern Japan -- in regional and global context -- from the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600) to the end of the Pacific War (1945). Together we survey social and political epochs such as the rise and fall of the Tokugawa Bakufu; the social and political contexts of modernization, industrialization, and the establishment of an overseas empire; the Sino-Japanese and Pacific Wars; and the initial stages of Japan’s postwar ‘economic miracle’. Students consider historical narrative alongside film and literature as a means of examining the simultaneous transformations that defined the emergence of modern Japan.

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Modern Japan


  • Students enrol via the on-line Module Sign-up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Dept. administrator

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Students will acquire the following academic and transferable skills:

  • critique: to analyze arguments, identify intellectual assumptions and rhetorical strategies; to evaluate the use of evidence in appropriate context.
  • problem-solving: to identify unexamined questions, suggest possible answers, and determine relevant evidence.
  • analysis: to collate information, conduct multi-factorial analysis.
  • communication: to participate in group discussions and collective development of analysis; to present reasoned arguments in both oral and written form.

Method of assessment

Exam (50%) and 3 x Coursework (50%)

Suggested reading

  • Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Katsu Kokichi, Musui’s Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai, University of Arizona Press, 1991.
  • Nagatsuka Takashi, Ann Waswo trans., The Soil: A Portrait of Rural Life in Meiji Japan, University of California Press, 1993.
  • John W Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War, Pantheon, 1986.
  • Study Pack (available at SOAS book shop in the Brunei Gallery).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules