East Asian Studies and International Relations BA

Year of entry

2024 course information

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UCAS code
Start date
September 2025
Delivery type
On campus
3 years full time
Work placement
Study abroad
Typical A-level offer
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBC at A Level and pass Access to Leeds
BCC at A Level, an A in a relevant EPQ and pass Access to Leeds
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Students in the Language Zone

In this degree, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of two disciplines, studying international relations and the culture, history, politics and economics of the East Asian region.

The region encompasses countries as diverse as Japan, China, Thailand and Indonesia, and is home to more than half the world’s population. It’s culturally, politically, and economically dynamic and vital to our understanding of the world.

You’ll choose from a range of optional modules exploring topics such as East Asian religions, modern Thai history and Japanese cinema.

Alongside this, you’ll study international relations, which explores how states interact with each other, and the roles of international organisations like the UN in promoting international peace and security. You’ll gain an understanding of how the ‘society of states’ has evolved and how it may be changing today.

With the international skills and outlook you develop, you’ll be well prepared for a global career.

This course also features the chance to take an optional study abroad or work placement year between Levels 2 and 3.

Specialist facilities

The University Library has impressive collections of resources in English about the history and culture of the East Asian region, backed up by a range of digital materials. From day one, you can access a comprehensive training programme to help you make the most of the resources on offer.

If you choose to study language modules, our Language Zone gives you access to free learning resources, including space for personal study, language learning software, and video, audio, books and magazines.

Take a look around our libraries:

Brotherton Library
Laidlaw Library
Edward Boyle Library

Course details

A joint honours degree allows you to study the same core topics as students on each single honours course, but take fewer optional and discovery modules so you can fit in both subjects. You’ll also undertake a major project in either subject in your final year.

Year 1

In your first year, you’ll gain a foundational understanding of international relations. You’ll study the key debates and theories that shape international politics in the world today, and you’ll explore the nature of politics and processes across different political systems, analysing how and why we make these comparisons. You’ll look at political issues and patterns at an international level, such as war, peace, sovereignty, inequality and others, and use these to explain what shaped the world we live in today.

As well as this, you’ll select modules that will introduce you to the history and culture of the East Asian region, with options to focus on the region itself or gain more insight into specific countries within the region. Optional modules include Japanese history, Korean society, Chinese visual cultures, and East Asian societies and religions, or you could take an East Asian language from beginner level.

Year 2

In Year 2, you’ll further your understanding of international relations by critically analysing rival theories. You’ll also be introduced to the debates on security in international relations, examining the concept, role and making of security in today’s international system.

From a choice of optional modules, you can examine the East Asian region in global, political, historical and religious contexts, including Sino-Japanese relations, East Asia’s regional political economy, the making of modern-day Thailand and religion in China. You can also continue learning an East Asian language.

Year 3

In your final year, you’ll undertake either an independent piece of research (a dissertation) or produce a digital documentary on a topic of your choosing. You’ll have a wide range of modules relating to the East Asian region and international relations to choose from, giving you the flexibility to make choices based on your interests and career aspirations.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1 compulsory modules

  • Politics, Culture and Society (20 credits) - What are the key debates that shape the practice of politics at international level? How can theory helps us better understand and analyse the practice of politics in the world today? How can awareness of differing cultural and intercultural perspectives help us better understand contemporary international politics? This module will introduce these themes and explore them in relation to a range of issues drawn from around the world.
  • Comparative Politics (20 credits) - Comparative politics involves two separate yet integrated components: it compares the nature of politics and processes across different political systems, and it studies how and why we make these comparisons. As such, this module is organised along both theoretical and substantive lines, taking advantage of case studies to provide context and example.
  • International Politics (20 credits) - You’ll start this module with a brief historical context, covering some of the key developments in world politics to date. You’ll be introduced to many of International Politics’ most important concepts including the international system, war, peace, sovereignty, collective security, inequality, and international organisations. You’ll also be introduced to regionalism in international affairs, and in particular to the international politics of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Basic Chinese Language 1 (20 credits)
  • Modern China: History and Culture (20 credits)
  • Basic Japanese Language (1) (20 credits)
  • Modern Japan (20 credits)
  • Foundations of East Asia (20 credits)
  • Basic Thai Language and Culture 1 (20 credits)

Year 2 compulsory modules

  • Theories of International Relations (20 credits) - We live in one world but there are many theories which offer competing interpretations of international events. This module offers students advanced training in International Relations Theory (IR) by critically analysing rival theories. As part of which, students will develop critical thinking through assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.
  • Security Studies (20 credits) - This module provides an introduction to the debates on security in international relations. It examines the concept, role and making of security in the contemporary international system. It outlines the main theoretical approaches and conceptualizations used in security studies and analyses a selection of important challenges that have been framed as security threats. The module examines and debates a range of competing theories and conceptualisations of security, exploring the different meanings of the term ‘security’ and whose security we can talk about. The module also examines contemporary security threats with implications for international politics, such as conflict, terrorism, and climate change.

Year 2 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Contemporary East Asian Culture
  • Topics in Contemporary Asia Pacific Societies
  • Japan's International Relations
  • China Since 1979
  • East Asia's Regional Political Economy
  • The Labour Party Since 1945
  • Politics of Contemporary China
  • State and Politics in Africa
  • United States Politics
  • Analysing Data in Politics, Development and International Relations

Students have 20 free credits for Discovery Modules. They can also choose to take a further module in East Asian Studies, International Relations, or take this module:

  • Towards the Future: Skills in Context

Year 3 compulsory module

  • Final Year Project: either dissertation in Politics, or choice between dissertation and podcast in East Asian Studies (40 credits) - This may be produced in either English or, subject to the approval of the Module Leader and project supervisor, the Target Language. Lectures and workshops provide the skills training necessary, whereas more specific guidance is provided through one to one supervision with a member of staff.

Year 3 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Sino-Japanese Relations: Past and Present (20 credits)
  • The Making of Modern Thailand (20 credits)
  • Society and Culture of Early Modern China (20 credits)
  • Southeast Asia: Politics and Economy (20 credits)
  • Japanese Development Assistance in a Globalising World (20 credits)
  • Global Korea (20 credits)
  • Globalising China and the Developing World (20 credits)
  • British Foreign Policy (20 credits)
  • Europe in the World (20 credits)
  • American Foreign Policy (20 credits)
  • Gender and Security in Global Politics (20 credits)
  • Terrorism (20 credits)

Students have 20 free credits for Discovery Modules. They can choose instead to take a further module in East Asian Studies or International Relations, or take one of these modules:

  • Contemporary World Literature (20 credits)
  • Material Cultures and Cultures of Consumption (20 credits)
  • Adventures of the Imagination: Crime and the Fantastic Across Continents (20 credits)
  • Decolonial Approaches (20 credits)
  • Social Movements across Cultures (20 credits)
  • Minoritised Languages, Dialects and Cultures from Past to Present (20 credits)

Learning and teaching

Our tutors are experts in their fields, and their teaching is informed by their own research, meaning what you’ll learn on this course is based on the latest findings in each field.

To help you get the most out of your tutors’ expertise, we use a range of teaching methods, including lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops.

Independent study is also central to this degree, as it allows you to develop your skills in research and analysis. You’ll be able to apply your skills and knowledge in a final-year project on a topic of your own choice.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


We use different types of assessment. Usually, we use a mixture of exams and essays, but you might also be assessed on oral presentations or group work in some modules. Support will be on hand throughout your time at Leeds – you’ll be able to attend extra classes on exam technique, structuring an essay and public speaking, if you need them.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB

Other course specific tests:

If you’re taking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in a relevant subject this might be considered alongside other Level 3 qualifications and may attract an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you’re taking A Levels, this would be BBB at A Level and grade A in the EPQ.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass diploma with 60 credits overall, including at least 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. An interview and a piece of written work may also be required.


Other BTEC qualifications are also considered. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Cambridge Pre-U

M1, M1, M2

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall including 16 at Higher Level

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H3, H3, H3

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

BB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers
B in Advanced Highers and AAABB in Highers
AABBBB in Highers

Welsh Baccalaureate

The Welsh Baccalaureate is not typically included in the academic conditions of an offer made to you for this course. If you choose to undertake the Welsh Baccalaureate we would strongly encourage you to draw upon these experiences within your personal statement, as your qualification will then be taken into account both when your application is initially considered by the selection panel and again when reviewed by the admissions tutor at the time your A-level results are passed to us.

Other Qualifications

European Baccalaureate: 75%

Find your country to see equivalent international qualifications.

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds offer:
BBC at A Level and pass Access to Leeds
BCC at A Level, an A in a relevant EPQ and pass Access to Leeds

Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year

This course is designed for students whose backgrounds mean they are less likely to attend university (also known as widening participation backgrounds) and who do not currently meet admissions criteria for direct entry to a degree.

The course will give you the opportunity to be taught by academic staff and provides intensive support to enable your development of academic skills and knowledge. On successful completion of your foundation year, you will progress to your chosen degree course. Find out more about the Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year.


We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. Contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.


UK: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.


Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Contact us

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies Undergraduate Admissions

Email: artsadmissions@leeds.ac.uk

Career opportunities

We are committed to helping you achieve your career ambitions. You’ll benefit from bespoke support and opportunities in the School and the University.

Our experts in the award-winning University Careers Centre will support you to make informed decisions about your career path, understand the opportunities available and the steps you need to take to pursue your choices. You’ll be encouraged to attend on-campus events including graduate recruitment fairs, employer networking and information sessions, and meetings with our alumni.

Leeds University Union provides career-related support through the part-time job hub, student societies and other activities throughout the year. Clubs and societies are a great way to get involved in lots of activities and explore your interests. They’re also a great way to develop your skills such as team working and leadership. For example, you could be a key player in an award-winning sports team, or become a committee member and chair society meetings, or you could even project manage a volunteering trip overseas. The Union is home to School Reps who are appointed by students to represent the views and be the voice of students in your School.

At Leeds, you can access support to help youstart your own business. Whether you want to learn about enterprise or become an entrepreneur, we offer award-winning specialist support.

Careers support

The School of Languages, Cultures and Societies regularly hosts employability events where you can listen to Leeds alumni talking about their careers and ask them for advice.

As a student with us, you’ll be guided in your career choices and prepared for life after your degree in a variety of ways. Workshops and events are organised for you by the School throughout the year and focus on networking, understanding the value of your language skills, hearing from alumni about their career experiences and hosting graduate recruiters who want to hire you.

We’ll also keep you informed of other part-time and volunteering opportunities that you can fit around your studies.

This high-level knowledge provides access to many careers, but you’ll also acquire a range of transferable skills that are highly desirable to employers. You’ll be a clear communicator with strong presentation skills, as well as being a critical thinker who draws your own conclusions from the information available to you.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. We have over 300 University partners worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.