SOAS University of London is the leading Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.

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21 April – 09 July 2025 (biennially)

Arts of Japan & Korea

Module Synopsis

This module examines the Arts of Japan and Korea in relation to religious, historical, and social contexts. The course follows a broad chronological progression from pre-history to contemporary, with the first few weeks focusing primarily on religious art and architecture of ancient to medieval eras when the links between Japan and Korea were particularly strong. While the major part of the course is dedicated to Japan, the study of Korean art is integrated into the course in order to compare and contrast the cultural differences of the two countries. The relationship with China is also considered in a larger East Asian context of transmission of ideas and trade.


The second part of the course examines secular traditions of painting, and a wide variety of decorative arts such as ceramics, lacquer, and textiles. The study of innovative modern and contemporary art, architecture and design towards the end of the course will encourage students to gain a sound understanding of both continuation and evolution of aesthetic ideas.


Module Delivery

  • In-person lectures given by SOAS academic staff, leading national and international scholars, museum curators, and art market professionals, generally taking place between 10.00 and 13.00 Monday through Thursday
  • Exclusive contributions from the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Visits and object study sessions at a variety of museums, galleries and auction houses
  • A series of asynchronous online lectures exploring critical thinking and current methods
  • Recommended weekly readings
  • Weekly review sessions
  • Weekly one-to-one tutorials with your module convenors



  • One object analysis of 1,500 words (20%)
  • One written assignment 2,500 words per module (40%)
  • One 48-hour, take-home exam per module (40%)


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