• Class Number 3686
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In-Person and Online
    • Prof Simon Avenell
    • Prof Simon Avenell
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
SELT Survey Results

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:

  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.

Required Resources

All readings will be made available on the course Wattle site

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction and Edo-Tokugawa
2 Edo-Tokugawa Continued
3 The Meiji Restoration
4 Meiji Politics
5 Imperial Democracy
6 Economy & Society 1889-1932
7 Empire and War
8 Defeat and Occupation
9 The 1955 System
10 Economic Recovery and Growth
11 Society and Contention in Postwar Japan
12 The Bubble & Heisei Japan

Tutorial Registration


Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Short Historical Essay I 15 % 21/03/2022 04/04/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Abstract and annotated bibliography for individual research paper 5 % 02/05/2022 16/05/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Individual Research Paper 40 % 31/05/2022 30/06/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Final Exam - Take Home 40 % 03/06/2022 30/06/2022 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 21/03/2022
Return of Assessment: 04/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Short Historical Essay I

Students will write a short essay utilizing primary and secondary materials.

In the essay students will be expected to display a sophisticated knowledge of the historical issue(s) involved by drawing on course materials. The essay will test students’ general knowledge of relevant scholarly debates, their ability to apply these debates to specific issues, and their ability to compare, contrast, and synthesize differing scholarly perspectives in written form. The essay will assess students on their ability to reference relevant sections in the course readings. The best students will display thorough – as opposed to cursory – knowledge of the relevant scholarship and primary sources. The essay will be students’ first opportunity in the course to display their analytical writing skills in the discipline of history. Particular emphasis will be placed on ability to develop a cogent and informed argument utilizing relevant examples and referencing relevant literature. 

Length: 800-1000 (+/- 10%) (not including references)

Assessment Task 2

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 02/05/2022
Return of Assessment: 16/05/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Abstract and annotated bibliography for individual research paper

Students will submit an abstract and annotated bibliography for the individual research paper.

The abstract (200-300 words) should outline the main theme of the essay and the proposed argument/thesis to be made.

The annotated bibliography should include a list of proposed sources to be used with short annotations describing the nature of the source and its relevance for the paper to be written (no word length). Students must identify *at least* five sources.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 31/05/2022
Return of Assessment: 30/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Individual Research Paper

In this research essay students will research and write on a topic of their own choice. Students will be expected to access a range of materials beyond the course readings, inclusive of both scholarly literature and other materials such as newspapers, magazines, government reports, etc. (where available & necessary). The essay will conform to standard academic writing conventions and will be assessed in these terms.

In the research essay students will need to display – through referencing and analysis – their understanding and ability to apply/critique/expand on relevant scholarly literature as well as utilize primary sources (if available). The essay will test students’ ability to craft and develop a sophisticated historical argument relating to modern Japanese history.

Length: 2000-3000 words (+/- 10%) (not including references)

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 03/06/2022
Return of Assessment: 30/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Final Exam - Take Home

The final exam will be open book & conducted online using Wattle Turn-It-In

In the final exam students will write essays on questions relating to content studied during the course. The exam will test students in-depth knowledge of the course content (relevant scholarly debates, primary sources), their ability to apply these debates to specific issues, and their ability to compare, contrast, and synthesize differing scholarly perspectives in written form. The best exams will display thorough and thoughtful knowledge of the relevant historical issues. Particular emphasis will be placed on the ability to develop cogent and informed arguments utilizing relevant course materials, as well as displaying a broad grasp of the major themes of modern Japanese history.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per day (including weekends) or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 days (including weekends) after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Prof Simon Avenell
6125 3207

Research Interests

Prof Simon Avenell

Prof Simon Avenell
6125 0404

Research Interests

Prof Simon Avenell

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions