• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Non Language Asian Studies, History, Asian Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr Simon Avenell
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

This course traces the history of Japan from the 17th century to the present, examining the dynamics of the early modern period (Tokugawa era), the Meiji revolution, the political, social and economic transformations of the early 20th century, the tumultuous 1930s and 1940s, and the dynamics of the post-1945 era.  Thematic issues to be covered include nation- and empire-building, state-society relations, total war and defeat, the Allied Occupation, Japan in the Cold War, socio-economic and demographic change, intellectual developments, and Japan’s international relations. A key emphasis of the course will be to understand and to position Japan in wider regional and global processes. The course will focus closely on the approaches historians have employed in studying Japan’s modern history.  In other words, what social and political theories have historians deployed and why? How have these approaches changed and/or enriched our understanding of modern Japan? The course will pay close attention to some of the ongoing controversies and debates in the historiography of modern Japan.  Students will be expected to think critically about both the history of Japan and the approaches historians have adopted. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On successful completion of this course, students will have the skils and knowledge to:
 1. Display thorough knowledge of key processes, transformations, and themes in Japan's modern history.
2. Develop comprehensive understanding of key scholarly debates on Japan's modern history.
3. Develop ability to critically examine primary source documents from Japan's modern history.
4. Develop analytical reading skills through careful reading of relevant secondary literature in the field of Japanese history.
5. Develop analytical writing skills in the field of Japanese history and historiography through completion of written assessment tasks.
6. Develop presentation and discussion skills in the field of Japanese history and historiography through active participation in class debates and discussions.

Other Information

This is a co-taught course. Any cap on enrolments in one course applies to both courses combined.

Indicative Assessment

Seminar Participation: 10% (learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 6)
Historiography Analysis: 20% (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Research Essay: 35% (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Final Exam: 35% (3, 5) 

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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The course consists of a 1.5 hour lecture and a 1.5 hour seminar per week. It demands seven hours of independent preparation, including assigned readings, review of lectures, and written assessment tasks. Postgraduate students will be expected to complete an independent study project and make a class presentation.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ASIA2009.

Prescribed Texts

Allinson, G., 'The Structure and Transformation of Conservative Rule', in Gordon (ed) Postwar Japan as History, UC Press, 1993
Hane, M., Modern Japan: A Historical Survey, Westview Press, 1986
Gordon, A. ed., Postwar Japan as History, University of California Press, 1981


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $3570
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5460
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4400 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person View

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