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Guide to studying East & South Asian Studies

East & South 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 East & South Asian Studies?

  2. Why study East & South Asian Studies?

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

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's East & South Asian Studies?

Eastern and Southern Asia is geographically identified as a pan-equatorial set of islands and nations between China and Australasia. They include Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines as islands and Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam on the mainland.

Studying East & South 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 East & South Asian Studies include: 

  • Chinese Studies
  • Japanese Studies
  • Other Asian Studies
  • South Asian Studies

Why study East & South Asian Studies?

An East & South Asian Studies degree will let you explore this fascinating area of the world. As well as deepening your understanding of the cultures of the region, you can develop your knowledge of one of the languages spoken there – such as Korean or Japanese.

There are opportunities to study abroad to improve your language abilities and see how these countries educate their students. One of the skills most prized in graduates by large modern companies is the ability to be deployed abroad without concern over whether they can carry out their job in a different culture. Knowledge of a second language to degree level will give your CV a real advantage.

The quality of Asian education at UK universities attracts a substantial number of tutors from overseas, and studying this discipline will put you in close contact with those who have first-hand knowledge. Courses attract natives of these countries as well as home students, meaning a multicultural work environment is guaranteed.

As well as understanding this 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. The ability to work either in a team or alone, and to a deadline, will also be valued by numerous employers.

East & South Asian Studies departments usually offer a number of dual honours degrees to help improve your graduate prospects. So you’ll be able to combine a cultural education with another subject area such as Politics, Business & Management or a different foreign language.

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What jobs can you get as an East & South Asian Studies graduate?

East & South 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 the civil and diplomatic services.

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

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of East & South Asian Studies have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate East & South Asian Studies students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

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 South East Asian Studies
  • BA South East Asian Studies with a year abroad
  • BA International Management and South East Asian Studies
  • BA in a South or East Asian language (e.g. Burmese, Indonesian, Thai)

How will you be assessed?

Introductory and intermediate courses in a South or East 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 a straight MA in South East Asian Studies, as well as in Pacific Asian studies, Chinese business and the Asia Pacific, and East Asian regional development.

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