JAP4530 – Topics in Japanese Society and Politics

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In this graduate-level seminar, students explore key issues in contemporary Japanese society from an interdisciplinary perspective. The course centers on a different theme each semester. Thus, it is not intended as a general introduction to contemporary Japanese society.

For Spring 2020, the central theme will be the “Politics of Precarious Labor.” Drawing from sources in anthropology, history, gender and sexuality studies, political philosophy, and sociology, the course will address issues pertaining to informal and illicit economies, sex work, labor and the state, poverty, social welfare, neoliberal subjectivities, immigration, and aging. A detailed syllabus will be available on Canvas.

In addition, students are required to give a presentation and write a research paper on a topic of their choice in consultation with the instructor.

Learning outcome

  • You will critically analyze social and political issues in contemporary Japan.
  • You will become familiar with the theoretical and methodological strengths of different disciplines.
  • You will practice reading and interpreting Japanese sources.
  • You will enhance your presentation and academic writing skills.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Admission to the MA programme option Japanese Studies.

Knowledge of both English and Japanese is required, as we will engage with sources in both languages.


The course consists of 10 classes of 3 hours each. Students are expected to be prepared to classes and to participate actively in discussion.

Obligatory activities:

  • Attendance to at least 8 of 10 classes
  • A one-page reflection paper on the readings
  • A research proposal

The reflection paper and the research proposal must be submitted in Canvas within a given deadline. The reflection paper and the research proposal is only valid for one semester. All obligatory activities must be approved in order to qualify for the exam. It is the student’s responsibility to keep track of any absence from class, and to check whether or not the compulsory activities are approved. 

This is how you apply for valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The examination consists of two parts:

  1. An oral presentation (15-20 minutes).
  2. An essay on a topic of your own choice, subject to prior approval by the instructor (8-10 pages).

You need to pass both parts to pass the course. The oral presentation counts for 40% of the grade, and the essay counts for 60%.

The obligatory activities must be approved by the teacher in order to take the exam. Please see "Teaching" for more information.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Periodic evaluation Spring 2013

Periodic evaluation Spring 2014


Useful information about master's studies at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language