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Guide to studying Asian Studies

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. Why study Asian Studies?

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

  4. What qualifications do you need?
  5. What degrees can you study?

  6. How will you be assessed?

  7. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Asian Studies?

Asia is the Earth’s largest continent, geographically identified as a pan-equatorial set of islands and nations between easter 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. 

Similar courses for Asian Studies include: 

  • Chinese studies
  • Japanese studies
  • Bengali language
  • Hindi language
  • Indian literature studies
  • Indonesian language
  • Korean studies
  • Nepali language
  • Urdu languages

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.

As well as understanding the culture in a personal and social context, such as history, religion and attitudes, you'll also learn general skills such as critical thinking, IT knowledge and writing. You’ll also be able to work to a deadline, in a team and independently. Many employers highly value these skills.

Read our five reasons to study Asian Studies for more information on why you might choose to study this subject area.

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What jobs can you get as an Asian Studies graduate?

Asian Studies degrees teach valuable transferable skills, such as presentation, research and communication, as well as knowledge of a second language.

Particular job areas include in interpreting and translating, journalism, tourism, administration, international banking, marketing, business, law, teaching, management, international relations, human resources, international trade and civil and diplomatic services.

Often international governments seek out graduates for roles that require in-depth knowledge of the country.

What qualifications do you need? 

Entry requirements vary for each university and course. Several ask for A Levels (or equivalent) in a foreign language or an arts or humanities subject. Others may just require a GCSE in a foreign language.

Always confirm the grades and other requirements for the particular university/course you're interested in.

What degrees can you study?

  • BA Asia Pacific Studies
  • BA East Asian Studies
  • BA Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • BA Oriental Studies
  • BA in an Asian language (e.g. Burmese, Indonesian, Thai)

Many course combinations are available that mix Asian Studies with Archaeology, Classics, Film or International Relations, for example. Several courses offer an integrated foundation year or study year abroad.


How will you be assessed?

Introductory and intermediate courses in an Asian language use a wide variety of learning experiences and techniques. Most other units are taught by formal lectures and with related tutorials. Assessment is usually through a combination of written examinations and coursework.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include:

  • MA in South East Asian Studies
  • MPhil or MSc in Modern South Asian Studies
  • PhD in South or East Asian Studies

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