Bachelor of Arts in Oriental Languages and Cultures (Japan)

Considering the fact that as much as 50% of the world population speaks one of the languages taught here, it is fair to say that the Oriental Languages & Cultures programme offers a number of so-called key languages. All of them historically “rich”, these languages all have a major influence on the thoughts and behaviour of a significant part of the world’s population.

Bachelor's Programme
3 year 180 credits
Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
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Postgraduate studies


Oriental Languages and Cultures is a discipline that attracts many young people, who are then often asked to justify their ‘exotic’ choice. Their choice is not one of otherworldliness, quite on the contrary: as much as 50% of the world population speaks one of the oriental languages taught at Ghent University. The languages on offer are not an arbitrary mix: each one of them is what we call ‘key languages’, i.e. languages in important religious, scientific and literary texts were and are written. Up until this day, these texts still influence the thoughts and behaviour of a significant part of the world’s population. A student of Oriental Languages and Cultures, therefore, is not an eccentric, but rather someone who understands the importance of these languages to 21st-century Europe. A student of Oriental Languages and Cultures, in other words, is firmly anchored in the world. You will study an oriental language, its region, its history, its social and political structures, its religious and philosophical movements and its literature. By teaching you how to research these languages and cultures academically, the study programme hands you all the tools for an open dialogue with the world.

For whom

Are you open to other cultures and interested to know everything there is to know about India, China, Japan or the Arab countries? Are you curious about other religions and ways of thinking, and are you keen to expand your horizons? Do you want to explore the Asian business world? If the answer to these questions is a resounding ‘yes’, our study programme will feel like at once like a homecoming, and an excellent vantage point from which to start your exploration of the world in all its diversity.

An understanding of our contemporary world begins with learning to understand, respect and value people from other cultures. The Oriental Languages and Cultures programme aims to train students to become liaisons between the Orient and the West.

Although no special prior knowledge is required, we do expect prospective students to have a special talent for languages. After all, the languages studied differ greatly from any Western European language in terms of structure and vocabulary. In addition, a solid knowledge of modern western languages is welcome. It goes without saying that you have a strong interest in history and society, and that you immerse yourself in the world of other cultures with great enthusiasm.


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The first-year curriculum contains a number of faculty-wide general course units. Together, they provide a broad framework for acquiring a basic understanding of the Humanities.

In addition, the Bachelor’s curriculum offers you a core set of language and culture course units. We offer a wide range of languages: Arabic, Hindi, Sanskrit, Modern and Classical Chinese, Modern and Classical Japanese. If you study Oriental Languages and Cultures at Ghent University, you study the languages that belong to your choice of region.

Labour Market

A degree in Oriental Languages and Cultures gives access to all professions for which a university degree is required. It goes without saying that the degree offers an added value when applying for positions, for which knowledge of, and experience with non-Western languages or cultures is important.

Our graduates are active in many sectors: in journalism, the business world (especially companies with offices in the Orient), migrant centres, the education sector, at Ministry Offices (e.g. Asylum Policy), as tour guides, and in academic research. Many of our graduates spend some time in the Orient, which is of course an additional asset on the labour market.