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BA3 Japanese History Seminar


Admission requirements

The course is open to students of Japanstudies programme only. Admission to BA3 seminar of each of the 5 clusters is granted following the procedure outlined below:

1) By the last day of May prior to their BA3 year, students must submit to the coordinator of the single cluster of their choice (a) a copy of their academic transcripts and (b) a motivation letter for entry into that cluster’s BA3 courses and thesis seminar; ideas/plans for a thesis project are welcome but not necessary © a second choice of cluster in case they do not get their first choice. Students can only apply to one cluster. Students who fail to submit by the deadline will be assigned to remaining open slots in clusters following the assignment of all students who submitted on time.

2) In clusters in which the number of applicants who submit by the deadline exceeds the number of available slots, students will be selected among applicants on the basis of their grades and their motivation letter.

3) Students not admitted to the cluster of their choice will be placed in the cluster of second choice to the extent that this is still possible. Final decision over the cluster assignment remains with the clusters.

4) Students will be notified of their admission by the end of June.


This first semester seminar explores a range of issues in the field of Japanese history. The course combines a broad view of a variety of different spheres of social action with a unifying focus on the conceptualization of Japan in a regional and global context. It is thus designed to give students both a conceptual framework for thinking about issues in Japanese history, and also an exposure to a broad range of themes that may be of interest as BA thesis projects. Topics include: What is Japan?, Japan in Asia, Japan and the Ainu, Japaneseness and the Underclass, History and Memory, Japanese Nationalism, and Japan and the Global.

Course objectives

  • Insight into contemporary approaches and sources of research into political, social, and cultural history

  • Enhanced awareness of the political and controversial nature of history-writing (historiography) and how it reflects its own time and place

  • Ability to review existing literature on a given topic, identify main authors and arguments, and structure a literature review.

  • Ability to search for and locate primary and secondary materials for research papers

  • Ability to articulate a research question based on original research

  • Ability to develop an argument and structure a paper based on individual research.

  • Ability to identify and follow disciplinary conventions in citation, analysis, use of sources, and structure of a research paper

  • Ability to critically assess research papers of other students and offer constructive feedback

  • Ability to structure a presentation, and effectively present orally on academic topics


Wednesdays 11-13

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

  • Total course load for this course is 140 hours – Hours spent on attending seminars (eg 2 hours per week x 13 weeks =) 26 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature approx. 50 hours – Time for completing assignments (excl. paper) approx. 24 hours – Time for preparing paper (including reading / research) approx. 40 hours

Assessment method

  • Participation element (attendance, webpostings, active participation, presentation): 50%

  • Paper (2,500-3,000 words): 50%

Het eindcijfer voor het onderdeel is het gewogen gemiddelde van de uitslagen voor de deeltoetsen, met dien verstande dat het onderdeel alleen voldoende kan zijn wanneer de student voor alle deeltoetsen een voldoende heeft behaald. Indien een of meer van de deeltoetsen onvoldoende zijn, ontvangt de student een onvoldoende (onv.) als uitslag voor het gehele onderdeel.


Is Blackboard used in the course? Yes

Reading list

Weekly readings consist of short selections from a wide variety of sources. Consult the instructor for access details.




This course should be taken together with the corresponding BA3 Text Seminar offered by the same cluster.