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Study Asian Studies, why & how to study

Asian Studies offers a great insight into Asian culture, covering areas of business, economy, geography, history, language, religion, law and politics.

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  1. What’s Asian Studies?

  2. What Asian Studies degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto an Asian Studies degree?

  4. What topics does an Asian Studies degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Asian Studies?

  7. What do Asian Studies graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as an Asian Studies graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Asian Studies

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Asian Studies?

Asia is the Earth’s largest continent, geographically identified as a pan-equatorial set of islands and nations between eastern Europe and Australasia. It includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines as islands and India, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam on the mainland.

Studying Asian Studies encompasses the geography, history and language of the area, as well as the religions (wide-ranging and including Christianity, Islam and Buddhism) and also the study of modern culture.

What Asian Studies degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Asian Studies may be combined with a wide variety of subjects, from archaeology to classics, film or international relations. Examples include:

  • Asia Pacific Studies BA
  • East Asian Studies BA
  • Asian and Middle Eastern Studies BA
  • Oriental Studies BA
  • Persian BA

Degrees may include an integrated foundation year or international experience.

What do you need to get onto an Asian Studies degree?

Entry requirements for an Asian Studies degree at a university range from 96–165 UCAS points. This could include the qualifications below.

  • A Levels: A*AA–CCC
  • BTECs: D*D*D*–DMM (A Levels may also be required)
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA–BBBB (Advanced Highers: AAB)
  • International Baccalaureate: 42–26
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: a foreign language at A Level (or equivalent) or a GCSE grade C/4 as a minimum, depending on the university

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Arts or humanities subjects at A Level
  • General studies A Level may not be accepted

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Furthering your knowledge of the subject in terms of the culture, history and politics of particular countries you’re interested in – see what resources unis list or follow news websites such as the Korea Herald
  • If you’ve a love of languages, evidence of your learning such as taking online courses or attending evening classes
  • If you’ve had experience of living in or visiting the area, reflecting on what you learned
  • Being a member of a language club or cultural society

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of science, if taken at A Level
  • Interview and entry assessments may be required by some universities

What topics does an Asian Studies degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Advanced seminar in Japanese culture and society
  • Broad survey of civilisations of Egypt and the ancient Near East
  • Contemporary Korean society
  • Elementary/intermediate/advanced Korean (or Japanese)
  • Empire and culture in East Asia
  • History and memory in East Asian cultures
  • Islamic religion
  • Language teaching in Egyptian or Akkadian
  • Middle Eastern history and cultures
  • Modern history of East Asia
  • Popular culture in Japan and East Asia
  • Reading and writing East Asian studies
  • Theorising Japanese cinema

How will you be assessed?

Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, and will vary from module to module.

  • Coursework
  • Essays
  • Presentations
  • Short tests and quizzes
  • Written and oral exams
  • A dissertation is usually a final year option

Why study Asian Studies?

An Asian Studies degree will let you explore this vast area of the world. You’ll deepen your understanding of the region’s cultures and develop your knowledge of one of the many languages spoken there – such as Korean or Japanese.

Career-specific skills:

  • Insights into the culture, religion and social context of these areas, past and present
  • High-level language skills in a second language, including comprehension, structuring dialogue, drawing inferences

Transferable skills:

  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • IT skills
  • Organisation
  • Presentation
  • Problem solving
  • Leadership
  • Research
  • Self-reliance
  • Team working
  • Time management
  • Written and oral communication

What do Asian Studies graduates earn?

Asian Studies graduates can expect an entry-level salary of around £20,000–£25,000.

Your cultural knowledge of Asia could lead to a career in commerce. Enter the Civil Service fast stream commercial programme, and you’ll be paid a salary of £28,000 while you train. Potential earnings can increase to £45,000–£55,000 after promotion. Top salaries in the foreign office can be as much as £91,900–£131,000 for a deputy commercial director.

In business, a Korean speaking business development manager might earn £40,000–£50,000, working from London.

What jobs can you get as an Asian Studies graduate?

Asian studies graduates could choose to make direct use of their knowledge and work in a language-related role, or use their skills in areas such as tourism, international banking, business, law or teaching. International governments may also seek out graduates for roles requiring in-depth knowledge of the country.

  • Civil servant (fast stream)
  • Corporate banker
  • Diplomatic service officer
  • Global marketing specialist
  • International finance analyst
  • Interpreter
  • Journalist
  • Language teacher
  • Lecturer
  • Media researcher
  • Museum curator
  • Solicitor
  • Translator
  • Travel consultant

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

If you have a first degree in Asian Studies or a related language, postgraduate study offers the opportunity to deepen your knowledge of the area. Examples of taught master’s and research degrees at postgraduate level include:

  • East Asian Relations MSc
  • Japanese Studies MSc/MPhil
  • Modern South Asian Studies MSc/MPhil
  • South East Asian Studies MA

Similar subjects to Asian Studies

If you’re interested in other cultures or languages, you could also consider these subjects:

Have any questions?

Ask our experts! You can email with your question about studying Asian Studies – we’ll be happy to hear from you.

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