Collection Development Policy - Japan & Korea

SOAS Library
  • Context
  • Collection
  • Coverage
  • E-Resources
  • Future


1. The Department of Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea

The Department aims through teaching and research to cover a broad spectrum of study: the languages, literatures, histories, cultures and societies of Japan and Korea.

The department offers BA, MA, MPhil and Phd programmes. It has has 14 academic staff, 274 FTE students, including 234 undergraduate, 29 taught postgraduate, and 11 research students.

For more information see:

2. Centres

The Centre of Korean Studies
  • Created in 1987 with the support of the Korea Research Foundation, subsequently the Korea Foundation, the Centre is the leading academic centre of its kind in the UK.
  • The Centre oversees BA, MA, and MPhil/PhD programmes in Korean Studies.
  • Seminar series with scholars from around the world are held regularly.
  • For more information see Centre of Korean Studies

The Japan Research Centre (JRC)

  • JRC develops and coordinates academic research and teaching, drawing upon the expertise of the Japan specialists based in various departments.
  • For more information see Japan Research Centre (JRC)

The Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions

  • The Centre was founded in 1999 with the support of the International Shinto Foundation to promote the academic study of Japanese religions.
  • The Centre hosts a regular seminar series and a post-graduate discussion group, the Japanese Religions Forum, as well as international workshops and conferences.
  • For more information see Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions (CSJR)


3. History

The original collection was transferred from the London Institution in 1917, along with the collections of B. Ponsonby-Fane and Sir Henry Partlett. At the end of World War II, books originally kept in Japanese embassies and consulates in Europe were added. The collection benefited from the Scarbrough Report (1947) by which the Library was able to acquire further Japanese language materials between 1948 and 1950. Those acquisitions form the core of the collection.

The Library has collected some 40,000 Korean items, including rare materials from North Korea, acquired through exchange with East European libraries in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Japan/Korea Collection has been supported by external donors in recent years: Academy of Korean Studies, Japan Foundation, Kasumi Kaikan, Korea Foundation, Korean History Compilation Committee, Mitsui and Company Ltd., Toshiba International Foundation, and many other organizations and individuals.

4. Languages

Materials in English, European languages, Japanese and Korean are collected.

5. Classification

Japanese language books are classified by the Nippon Decimal Classification (9th ed). Western language books and Korean language books are classified using a modification of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC21). Some subject areas, such as linguistics, literature, and history need more detailed classifications beyond DDC21 for more specific identification.

The Classification scheme employs an initial letter or combination of letters which indicates country/language and a classification number following the letter(s):

  • CD    Korean language books on Korea
  • D      Western language books on Japan
  • DB    Japanese language books on Japan
  • DK    Western language books on Korea
  • Large books are suffixed "L"
  • Reference books are prefixed "Ref"

6. Special Collections

All donations have been merged into the Japan/Korea collection. The Library hosts the Burma Campaign Memorial Library which includes Japanese language materials. Some publications were published privately, and are only held in a limited number of libraries around the world.


Within the school, the Library supports the teaching and research needs of Departments and Centres at SOAS listed in Section 1 and 2. The Collection is a national resource for Japanese studies and Korean studies, including monographs, journals, and audio-visual materials.

The collection aims to collect materials to a teaching level for all courses taught within SOAS’ curricula.


The collection aims to collect material to a research level for all the subject areas detailed in section 8 below :

8. Detailed Structure

The main subject areas of collecting for the Department of Languages and Cultures of Japan & Korea are detailed below (based on the Conspectus Level). For details on the Conspectus Level see Collection Development Policy

8.1 Anthropology & Sociology
  • Social sciences
  • Sociology & anthropology (Interdisciplinary works on society)
  • Social interaction
  • Social Process
  • Social change (Including contact between cultures)
  • Conflict (Including terrorism)
  • Factors affecting social behaviour
  • Population (Including genocide)
  • Movement of people
  • Social groups
  • Age groups
  • Men and women
  • Social class
  • Religious groups
  • Language groups
  • Racial, ethnic, national groups
  • Occupational and miscellaneous groups
  • Culture & institutions
    • Subcultures
    • Political institutions
    • Economic institutions
    • Specific aspects of culture (not provided for elsewhere – education, language, medicine, art)
    • Religious institutions
    • Institutions pertaining to the sexes
    • Marriage and the family (Including kinship)
    • Institutions pertaining to death
  • Communities
    • Planning and development (Including community participation)
    • Movement of people to, from, within communities
    • Structure
    • Specific kinds of communities (Including  rural & urban)
  • Social welfare
  • Customs, etiquette & folklore
    • Costume
    • Personal appearance (Including tattooing)
  • Customs of life cycle & domestic life
  • Death customs
  • General customs
    • Food and drink
  • Etiquette (Manners)
  • Folklore
  • Customs of war & diplomacy
8.2 Art & Archaeology
  • Art general and philosophy of arts
  • Archaeology general (Theories, methods etc)
  • Civilisation (arts)
  • Inscriptions and epigraphy
  • Architecture and gardens
  • Buddhist art
  • Other religious arts
  • Sculpture
  • Paintings and calligraphy (print making and prints)
  • Ceramic arts
  • Art metalwork
  • Numismatics
  • Lacquer and art wood work
  • Jewellery
  • Textile arts and costume
  • Other arts
  • General museum guides and handbooks
8.3 Business & Economics
  • Economic situation and conditions
  • Labour economics
  • Money, banking and finance
  • Land and property
  • Environmental economics, natural resources and energy
  • Public finance
  • Industry and business
  • Rural economics & agriculture
  • Development and growth
  • Distribution of income and growth
  • Trade
  • Political economy
  • Comparative economics
8.4 Development Studies
  • Aid
  • Environment/natural resources
  • Agriculture
  • Education
  • Famine & food security
  • Globalisation
  • Health issues
  • Industrialisation
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Urbanization
  • Statistical data
8.5 Diaspora, Migration & Ethnic Minority Studies
  • Migration, Social Science aspects
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Ethnic relations
  • Ethnic groups
  • Immigration & emigration - political aspects
  • Colonisation, Political aspects
  • Refugees
  • Slavery and emancipation
  • Migrant and casual workers
  • Law pertaining to migration
8.6 Film and Media Studies
  • Journalism and press media
  • Sociology of Journalism (with cultural and political aspects)
  • Mass media and communication
    • Print media
    • Television studies
    • Radio
  • Digital culture and development of technology
  • Global media
  • Photography
  • Film theory
  • Cinema
  • Animation
  • Stage theatre
  • Dance
8.7 Finance & Management
  • Financial economics
  • Banks and money
  • Public finance
  • Industry and business
  • Distribution of income and wealth
  • Management
  • Corporate governance
  • Business and ethics
  • Corporate finance
  • Historical finance
8.8 Gender Studies
  • Men and masculinity
  • Women and feminism
  • Prostitution
  • Sexual orientation, Homosexuality
  • Sexuality
8.9 History
  • History of all periods
  • Historiography
  • Historical geography
  • Biographies
8.10 Law
  • Arbitration and dispute resolution
  • Civil and human rights law
  • Commercial and company law
  • Competition law
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional and Administrative Law
  • Contract Law
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Discrimination and Equality
  • Employment and Labour law
  • Family law
  • Financial law
  • Gender
  • Immigration and Nationality
  • Information Technology law
  • Inheritance, succession, trusts
  • Intellectual property
  • Justice
  • Law and development
  • Law reform
  • Legal history
  • Legal systems
  • Nationality & citizenship
  • Philosophy & theory of law
  • Trade
8.11 Linguistics & Language Studies
  • Language (Interdisciplinary works on language and literature)
  • Philosophy & theory
  • Language and communication (including semiotics)
  • Psychological principles (including language acquisition)
  • Language education and research
  • Treatment of language with respect to kinds of persons and groups
  • Geographic sub-division of Language
  • Linguistics
  • History and description with respect to kinds of persons
  • Writing systems
  • Etymology
  • Phonology & phonetics
  • Grammar
  • Syntax
  • Stratificational linguistics
  • Systemic linguistics
  • Grammatical analysis
  • Style in Linguistics and language
  • Dialectology & historical (diachronic) linguistics
  • Pidgins and creoles
  • Standard usage & applied linguistics
    • Translation and interpretation
    • Applied linguistics in language teaching & Second language acquisition
    • Language disorders
    • Reading
  • Structured verbal languages other than spoken and written ( including Mathematical linguistics & Sign languages)
8.12 Literatures & Literary Criticism
  • Literature (Belles-lettres) and rhetoric
  • Philosophy and theory
  • Rhetoric and collections
  • History, description, critical appraisal
  • Poetry, History and criticism
  • Drama, History and criticism
  • Fiction, History and criticism
  • History and criticism of essays, speech, letters, humour and satire
  • Literature for and by specific kinds of persons
  • Literature displaying specific features
8.13 Music
  • Musicology [ethnomusicology]
  • Philosophy and theory
  • Education and research
  • History of music
  • Dance music
  • Folk music
  • Popular music
  • Religious music
  • Vocal Music
  • Songs
  • Dramatic music
  • Musical instruments
  • Instrumental music
  • Instrumental ensembles
  • Composers
8.14 Politics & International Relations
  • Political theory
  • Research methods
  • The state
  • Comparative government
  • Systems of governments and States
  • Political ideologies
  • Political situation  and conditions
  • Relation of the State to religious organisations
  • Relation of the State to labour movements
  • Relation of the State to business and industry
  • Relation of the State to political action groups
  • Relation of the State to Armed Forces
  • Civil and political rights
  • The political process
  • International organisations
  • Political parties
  • Election systems and procedures
  • Migration
  • International relations
  • Foreign policy & specific topics in international relations
  • Diplomacy
  • Political economy
  • Political violence
8.15 Pure and Applied Sciences
  • The Library does not acquire material on the pure sciences, except works relating to the history of science.
  • The Library collects material on the applied sciences where such works are of an interdisciplinary nature and cover issues such as economic, social, political and development studies.
  • Works of an Interdisciplinary nature includes economic, political and social aspects relating to subjects such as:
    • Irrigation and water resources
    • Agriculture, forestry and land use
    • Medicine and public health but not scientific and technical aspects:
      • Linguistic works on flora and fauna
      • Works on traditional and indigenous medicine and medicinal plants
      • History of medicine
      • Medical anthropology
      • Social and political aspects of disease and public health
    • Environmental and ecological works that are related to development, politics and economics
    • Works on human ecology
    • Material on intermediate and sustainable technologies related to development issues.
8.16 Religions & study of Religions
  • Anthropology of religion
  • Comparative religions
  • Death (anthropological, sociological and theological aspects)
  • History of religions
  • "New Age" religion and cults
  • Philosophy and theory of religions
  • Religious art and iconography
  • Ritual studies
  • Sociology of religion
  • Christianity
  • Buddhism
  • Shinto


9. Major Databases

General Databases
  • Bibliography of Asian Studies
  • EBSCOHost
  • Project Muse
Japanese Databases
  • JapanKnowledge+NR
  • Kikuzo II (Asahi Shinbun)
  • Nikkei Telecom 21
  • Yomidasu (Yomiuri Shinbun)
Korean Databases
  • Choson Ilbo Archive
  • DBpia
  • E-Korean Studies (including KISS, Kdatabase, KoreaA2Z, LawnB)
  • KRpia

10. Online Subject Guide

For more information see Japan and Korea Subject Guide

For subject specific databases see Subject Statements

For other databases SOAS subscribes to see A-Z databases list


11. Trends for the Future

Move towards more online full-text resources where possible:

  • As the national collection for Asian, African and Middle Eastern studies the Library  endeavours to provide electronic access to these materials (e-journals, databases, e-books &c.), where available.
  • For subjects of a theoretical, general or non-regional nature the electronic version (e-journals, databases, e-books &c.) is favoured.
  • Korean materials are widely available in digital format either via free access or as commercial products. The Korea Foundation has been financially supporting SOAS subscriptions to Korean databases since March 2010.
  • A limited range of online full-text materials are available from Japan. Although many academic institutions have joined a digital portal project of the National Institute of Informatics, commercial academic journals are still available on paper only. UK and European institutions have organized consortia for Japanese database subscriptions.