• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Non Language Asian Studies, History, Asian Studies, Asia Pacific Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Simon Avenell
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2024
    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:

  1. Explain the key processes, transformations, and themes in Japan's modern history
  2. Comprehend and critique important scholarly debates about Japan's modern history.
  3. Critically examine and utilize primary source documents.
  4. Formulate research questions and conduct independent research in the discipline of history.
  5. Write academic essays on specific aspects of modern Japanese history.

Other Information

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

Indicative Assessment

  1. Short Historical Essay (1200 words in English or 2400 characters in Japanese) (20) [LO 2,3,5]
  2. Abstract and Annotated Bibliography (600 words in English or 1200 characters in Japanese) (10) [LO 2,4]
  3. Individual Research Paper (2400 words in English or 4800 characters in Japanese) (40) [LO 2,4,5]
  4. Final Exam (30) [LO 1,2,3]

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.


The total workload for the course is 130 hours including in class time and independent study. 

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed at least 24 units of university courses. This course is incompatible with ASIA6010.

Prescribed Texts

Prescribed readings will be available via Wattle

Preliminary Reading

Key textbooks:

- Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan, Oxford University Press, 2019

- William M. Tsutsui ed., A Companion to Japanese History, Blackwell, 2009.

Translated primary sources taken from:

- David Lu ed., Japan: A Documentary History, vol. 2 (JDH), ME Sharpe, 1997.

- Wm. Theodore de Bary, Carol Gluck, and Arthur E. Tiedemann, eds. Sources of Japanese Tradition—Volume 2: 1600-2000, New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2005.




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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $5280
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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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
3687 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person View

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