Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module JPNS2171: Science and Technology in Modern Japan: A Cultural History

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Japanese)

JPNS2171: Science and Technology in Modern Japan: A Cultural History

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 45 Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop students’ understanding of the role of science and technology in the shaping of modern Japanese culture.
  • To equip students with critical concepts and methodologies for analysing science and technology as sociocultural systems.
  • To encourage students to think more broadly about the geopolitics of science and technology in non-Western contexts.
  • To cultivate advanced research and writing skills.


  • This module examines discourses of science and technology in Japan and its greater empire in the modern period, emphasizing the way in which science and technology shaped the Japanese imagination of modernity and its ambitions as an emerging world power. Topics covered include acupunture, evolution, scientific concepts of race, atomic power, microelectronics, and environmental thought.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module, students will have developed an understanding of how science and technology have shaped and been shaped by cultural modernity in Japan.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will have gained the ability to think critically about 1) the cultural-embeddedness of science and technology; 2) the function of science and technology in broader global geopolitics.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module students should have enhanced research, communication and argumentation skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is taught and assessed in English. English translations of required reading in Japanese will be available.
  • The module will be taught intensively as a ‘short-fat’ module in term 1 or term 2. In order to stress discussion, teamwork and presentations, there will be one one-hour lecture per week, with one two-hour session combining a lecture and seminar to encourage discussion.
  • Assessment consists of coursework, in order to foster independent research-led learning. The weighting of the first assignment as 40% and the second as 60% provides an element of progression, reinforcing the benefit gained from feedback on the first assignment.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 10 Weekly 1 Hour 10
Lecture and Seminar 10 Weekly 2 Hours 20
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2000 words 100% Yes
Component: Essay 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2 2500 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Seminar presentations on which feedback will be given.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University