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I completed the MPhil programme in Japanese Studies in 2017 and now work for a startup in the technology industry in Tokyo. In my final year of undergraduate study at Temple University Japan Campus, I decided to continue my studies and one of my professors at the time suggested that I look into the programme. The Japanese Studies programme was just re-designed. I was very fortunate to be the first and only student in the new MPhil programme.
 
The opportunity to study under some of the best scholars in the area of Japanese Studies and the flexibility of the course attracted me to apply. It was challenging yet rewarding to work with my supervisor during the MPhil. Throughout my time at Cambridge, she was very supportive. Even before I submitted the application to the course, she gave me advice on my research topic and proposal. We had regular supervisions during term time. I was also able to work quite independently. In terms of the flexibility of the course, besides one required class, I was free to choose any classes offered at FAMES and even outside FAMES with permission to complete the degree requirements. This allowed me to take the classes that were relevant to my research interests and build up references for my dissertation.
 
The three classes I took were Asia in Theory, Japanese Society, and Theories and Methodologies in Japanese Studies. The class size was relatively small. Although the groups were small in number, they were quite diverse. My classmates and I were from different countries and doing various research. I had the pleasure to learn from the fourth year Japanese Studies undergraduate students in my Japanese Society class and from the PhD candidates in History in Asia in Theory class.
 
I often describe Cambridge as the best place to study. The University and the faculty offer a wide range of academic resources. Besides academic life, there were also a lot of opportunities for students to interact with each other, such as Formal Halls, student societies, events held by the MCRs and colleges. I had a fulfilling year at Cambridge and maintained a good balance between my social life and the academics during the MPhil.
 
Cambridge could be a high-stress environment and the MPhil programme is only one year. There was a lot to do in a relatively short amount of time. As a result, the experience made me become a more emotionally mature person. I have learned to manage time better and deal with stress more positively. These skills are extremely valuable as I started my working career in the startup environment, which is often described as fast-paced and high-stress. Last but not least, the friends I made during my time at Cambridge are ones that I believe can last a lifetime.
Wei-Chuan Chen (September 2017)

When I applied for my Master’s degree, it was clear in my mind that I wanted to spend a year carrying out research in preparation for a thesis that covered original ground in my field of study - early modern Japanese literature. Although the standard MPhil includes a medium-length dissertation option, I was keen to be able explore my chosen subjects in greater depth and range, and that was only possible through the MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies by Research.

Throughout the year, I met my supervisor Dr Laura Moretti at least once a week during term time. These sessions - much like Cambridge undergraduate supervisions - would focus on the work that I had prepared since our last meeting. At the beginning of the year, we spent a lot of this time transcribing, translating and analysing the source texts, as well as discussing academic and wide-ranging theoretical writings I had been assigned. Once the skeleton of the thesis was in place, it was a matter of writing and shaping its various chapters. Towards summer, the supervisions were spent editing and polishing these sections.

At the beginning of my research, I quickly narrowed my focus to look at popular illustrated books, and in particular a two-volume erotic rewriting of play pamphlets which became the subject of my thesis. Although I had begun to study similar texts during my final year as an undergraduate, the MPhil by Research allowed me to develop my palaeographic skills. Not only was I working daily with primary sources written in classical Japanese, but my modern Japanese also continued to advance by reading secondary academic literature. The specialist Graduate Summer School in Early-modern Palaeography organised by Dr Moretti proved invaluable. Moreover, there were countless opportunities both privately and through faculty, events to meet international scholars of great renown, who were always willing to share their thoughts, answer questions and offer advice.

Without a doubt, my year of research was challenging, and I was pushed to perform to the best of my abilities at every turn. But such a process is ultimately a strengthening one: ideal preparation for a PhD, and a proper taste of the real world of professional research. It was possible only because I was supported throughout - especially by Dr Moretti - but also the wider Faculty network, as well as the Fellows and staff of Trinity College which was my home for another year.

To submit my thesis after 11 months of hard work and then successfully defend my ideas before two distinguished academics was one of the proudest moments of my life.

Freddie Feilden (September 2014)

I chose the course because I wanted to use the languages (Chinese and Korean) I had learnt as an undergraduate to really dig into my topic of interest: North Korea. The course offered me the space to do that, whilst also equipping me with the necessary deep background and context of the region’s recent history which I still regularly dwell on today as a journalist in Asia. The Cold War in East Asia class, in particular, was immensely stimulating and full of useful discussion and debate. Of course, at Cambridge, it’s not just about what’s on the curriculum. Our classes benefitted massively from being jointly taught by two very engaging lecturers, and by having a diverse student body of everyone from North Korean exchange students to western military officers. So much of what you learn at Cambridge happens outside the classroom too. It is no exaggeration to say that all those formals spent engaging or debating with senior experts and academics over dinner helped prepare me for life as a foreign correspondent where remaining cool-headed and well-informed in front of heads of state and high-level sources is paramount!

James Pearson (Hanoi Bureau Cheif, Reuters, and co-author of 'North Korea Confidential) (September 2012)

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Key Information


11 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

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Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2022

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
May 16, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Graduate Funding Competition
Dec. 2, 2021
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 13, 2021

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2022, Lent 2023 and Easter 2023.


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