Luso-Brazilian Studies

Master Portuguese to learn from Lusophone countries, and build the skills and knowledge you need to contribute to today’s global society.

Very few Japanese universities offer the opportunity to learn Portuguese and study the Portuguese-speaking world as a specialty. If you’re one of those curious, adventurous souls who love to learn new things and explore uncharted waters, the Department of Luso-Brazilian Studies is for you. Here you can discover the excitement of seeing the world from a brand new angle and using that perspective to communicate and contribute to the world.

What is it that draws people to the study of Portuguese and the Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) world? Perhaps it’s the thrill of discovering connections that transcend space and time and provide direct insight into the process of globalization. It was the Portuguese who ushered in the Age of Exploration by navigating across the world’s uncharted seas. As a result, today Lusophone societies can be found on four continents: Europe (Portugal), South America (Brazil), Africa (five countries, including Angola and Mozambique), and Asia (East Timor and Macau). By immersing ourselves in these far-flung cultures—those of South America, Africa, and Asia as well as Portugal itself—and viewing the world from their diverse perspectives, we gain a new appreciation of global diversity and regional identity and develop the ability to view the world and its problems from a multicultural perspective.

For Japanese students of the field, another source of appeal is Japan’s deep links with the Portuguese-speaking world. Japan had its first contact with the Western world through the Portuguese. Today Brazil boasts the largest single overseas community of ethnic Japanese, and there are many Brazilians living in communities across Japan as well.

The curriculum of Department of Luso-Brazilian Studies is designed to give students as much exposure to the field’s endlessly varied charms as possible within a four-year period and provide them with knowledge and skills they can use to chart their own course into the future.

1. First and Second Years: Building the Basics in Language and Area Studies

The first task of students in our department is to learn Portuguese. Our language curriculum begins at the very beginning on the assumption that most of our students will be studying Portuguese for the first time. They need to undergo rigorous basic training in their first and second years if they are to put the language to use at the third- and fourth-year level. This is the function of Basic Portuguese, which consists of six sessions a week (at least one class a day on weekdays) for intensive study of grammar, oral and written expression, and reading. Between preparation, class work, and review, students may find the workload a bit heavy at times, but this will build the foundation on which everything else will rest.

Another requirement for first- and second-year students is our basic area-studies courses, which provide an introduction to area studies in the Portuguese-speaking world. Introduction to Luso-Brazilian Studies arms students with the basic academic skills they need to carry out study and research in this field at the university level (including techniques of documentary research and report writing). In the remaining four courses in this category students gain a basic familiarity with the regions of the Lusophone world by studying the histories of Portugal, Brazil, Lusophone Africa, and Lusophone Asia, respectively. This will provide students with experience they need to select a specialty for advanced study in their third and fourth years.

2. Third and Fourth Years: Practical Language Skills and Specialized Studies

Third-year students begin to make the transition from basic Portuguese skills to Portuguese they can really use. The goal is to attain a level of proficiency that permits them to read research materials in Portuguese, understand ideas expressed by natives of Lusophone culture, and convey their own ideas in Portuguese. Third- and fourth-year Portuguese classes are taught primarily by native Portuguese-speaking instructors and meet twice a week on average.

While continuing their studies in their first major, the Portuguese language, third-year students also begin taking courses in the concentration that they declared at the end of their second year, either as a second major or as a minor. The Faculty of Foreign Studies offers nine concentrations to choose from: European Studies, North American Studies, Latin American Studies, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Linguistics, Middle Eastern and African Studies, Asian Studies, International Politics, and Civil Society and International Cooperation. European Studies is the frequent choice of students wishing to focus on Portugal; Latin American Studies, for those interested in Brazil; Middle East and African Studies or Asian Studies, for those wishing to study Lusophone societies in other regions; and Linguistics, for those with a special interest in the language. That said, students can choose any concentration compatible with their academic goals. They can also get a head start on their course of specialized studies by taking concentration introductory courses beginning in year one and concentration core courses beginning in year two.

3. Study Abroad: Take the Plunge into Portuguese-Speaking Society

Each year a substantial number of our third-year students take part in a study-abroad program in order to gain the invaluable experience of living in Portuguese-speaking society and studying at a Portuguese-speaking university. Sophia University has student exchange agreements with eight Portuguese-speaking institutions around the world: Universidade de Brasilia, Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, and Universidade de Sao Paulo in Brazil; Universidade de Aveiro, Universidade do Porto, Univarsidade de Coimbra and Universidade do Minho in Portugal; and University of Macau in the Chinese territory of Macau. These programs offer ample opportunity for students to spend a year immersed in the language and culture they have been studying. In addition, a substantial number of our students enroll in programs at non-partner institutions under the university’s General Study Abroad program. Study abroad is not merely the best way to improve one’s language skills. For many students, it is also a life-changing experience that opens their eyes academically and profoundly affects the course of their career. We encourage everyone in our department to accept the challenge.

4. Seminars and Graduation Research: A Summation of Your Undergraduate Education

Each concentration offers small-group courses called seminars that are open to third- and fourth-year students. Seminars are advanced participatory courses in which students read, report on, and discuss materials on a specialized topic, determined by the course instructor. In the fourth-year seminar, the seminar instructor provides guidance as students devote themselves to completion of a major graduation thesis or research project that will stand as a summation of their undergraduate education. Students are not required to complete seminar coursework or a graduation project if they are pursuing the concentration as a minor, but seminars offer a level of interaction with faculty and other students almost impossible to find in other types of courses, and almost no one regrets the time they spent completing a project that testifies to all they learned and achieved as a university student. We encourage all of our students to enroll in an advanced seminar and complete a graduation project to cap their university studies.

See the Japanese website for more information