Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST3433: Japan in the Global History of Public Opinion

Department: History

HIST3433: Japan in the Global History of Public Opinion

Type Open Level 3 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 18 Location Durham


  • • A pass mark in at least TWO level two modules in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • For students to develop an advanced understanding of Japan’s place in the global history of public opinion.
  • For students to engage with a wide variety of primary sources through which to explore this history and situate it within a comparative framework.
  • To encourage students to relate these sources to historiographic debates pertaining to global history, the history of concepts, political culture, and the history of East Asia and the Sinosphere


  • The module explores Japan’s place in and significance to the global history of public opinion.
  • Multiple starting points and precedents for this history will be considered, but the focus will be on the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. This will enable close consideration of developments pertaining to the globalisation of the concept of public opinion; including imperial expansion, the circulation of translated works and institutional forms associated with the idea of public opinion, and the emergence of new statistical techniques to track and measure it.
  • Seminar topics will include such topics as public opinion in classical Chinese scholarship, the translation of “public opinion” from European languages into Japanese, the rise of the modern press, the relationship between public opinion and representative political institutions, public opinion and wartime propaganda, and the impact of public opinion polls on post-war democracy.
  • Primary sources include translated texts (classical Chinese political treatises, Japanese accounts of the role of public opinion in Western societies, Japanese newspaper articles) and texts originally written in English (nineteenth-century reportage and travel accounts, government reports, polls sponsored by the Allied Occupation of Japan). Significant works on public opinion that were translated into Japanese during nineteenth and twentieth centuries will also be discussed.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A deep knowledge of the history of public opinion in Japan and its place in Japanese political culture.
  • A thorough understanding of challenges involved in integrating the history of Japan and other non-Western countries into global intellectual and political history.
  • The ability to participate in historiographic and methodological debate surrounding different approaches to public opinion and its history.
  • Familiarity with primary sources and key texts relevant to the history of public opinion in Japan, including their contexts of creation, reception and canonisation.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Integrating primary and secondary sources in a skilled and sustained manner to develop and support historical arguments.
  • Engaging in deep, careful analysis of primary sources, while confronting methodological and conceptual challenges associated with advanced research.
  • Evaluating historical interpretations and encouraging students to position themselves within existing debates
Key Skills:
  • The ability to employ sophisticated reading skills to gather, sift, process, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources (print, digital, material, aural, visual, audio-visual etc.)
  • The ability to communicate ideas and information orally and in writing, devise and sustain coherent and cogent arguments
  • The ability to write and think under pressure, manage time and work to deadlines
  • The ability to make effective use of information and communications technology

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

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students' ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals;
  • tutorials either individually or in groups to discuss topics arising from prepared work, allowing students the opportunity to reflect upon their personal learning with the tutor.
  • Assessment:
  • Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The unseen examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • Summative essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources;
  • Assessment of Primary Source Handling: Students are assessed on their understanding of original primary sources, usually in print, their character varying according to the nature of the subject, and the students' ability to bring that knowledge to bear on 'cutting edge' research-based monographs and articles. Students are given the opportunity to discuss and articulate an understanding of changing interpretations and approaches to historical problems, drawing evidence from a body of primary source materials. Students are required to demonstrate skills associated with the evaluation of a variety of primary source materials, using documentary analysis for a critical assessment of existing historical interpretations. .

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 2 Termly in Terms 1 & 2 0.5 hours 1
Seminars 19 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2 3 hours 57
Revision Sessions 1 Revision 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 540
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 maximum of 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 34%
Essay 2 maximum of 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 34%
Source Analyses maximum of 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 32%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen open book examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay of not more than 2500 words (not including footnotes and bibliography); preparation to participate in seminar and tutorials; at least one oral presentation, and practice source/gobbet work.

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