Scientific fields in Humanities chosen by the master’s students in a Japanese university

Recently I was scouted as a one-day assistant on master’s thesis defense at my university. My job was to guide the master students in and out of the classrooms where their evaluators were waiting for them. Like Vergilius who guided Dante Alighieri through his Divine Comedy.

Most of the graduate students in my faculty are foreign students. I took the liberty of talking to them and discussing their dissertations and their career plans.

The scientific fields are chosen based on the applicability of their results

My argument is solely based on my personal observations, but it seems that there is a trend for choosing a scientific field when it comes to master’s courses at my university.

My judgment is based on the profile of the professors who acted as evaluators during the master’s defense and the themes of student’s dissertations. All in all, the themes of the student’s dissertations fell into one of the three groups: foreign language education, political studies, gender and culture studies.

As you can see, all the specific fields mentioned above have the potential for real-life application. The main trend that I’ve observed is that the students are oriented on making the results of their work applicable in everyday practice.

For example, there was a student who wondered if the teacher’s feedback to the student’s works is used by the undergraduate students as a reference. This master’s student came to the conclusion that the undergraduate students don’t refer to the feedback. And, although it takes time and effort to produce feedback to the student’s work, it is barely needed by the students themselves. The master’s student concluded that there is a need to replace the feedback with something else due to the lack of interest on behalf of undergraduate students.

In my Russian university, there were such disciplines as the History of Linguistics, Historical Linguistics, General Linguistics which tended to theorise, rather than apply, knowledge. Judging from my conversations with the master’s students and my personal observations, the students in the Japanese university chose their themes for their master’s thesis based on the applicability of the results to everyday practice.

So if you think about enrolling in a master’s program in Humanities in a Japanese university, you might want to consider the practical approach that I’ve observed in many dissertations of master’s students during the defense.

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