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East Asian Studies

This guide provides a general introduction to library and information resources for all those studying, teaching and researching on topics relating to China, Japan, Korea and other East Asian regions.

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About this guide

This guide serves as a starting point for making the best use of the Library's physical and electronic collections on East Asia, with additional inforrmation on studies skills resources and internet resources beyond Edinburgh.

Table of Contents

Related subject guides


The University Library holds a large amount of resources on East Asia in print, electronic, audiovisual and other physical formats in Western and East Asian languages.

Most books and journals in Western languages in arts, humanities and social sciences of the region are integrated with the general collections in the Main Library according to the Library of Congress subject classification (older materials in Dewey classification on the 4th floor). Western-languages materials on East Asian art, education, religion and law can also be found in the relevant site libraries: Edinburgh College of Art Library, Moray House Library, New College Library and Law Library respectively.

Materials in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages on all subjects are separately located within the East Asian Studies (EAS) Collection on the 3rd floor of the Main Library, currently in compact shelving. This substantial collection is among the major East Asian language collections in the UK and is the only one of its kind in Scotland.

There are over 100 rare and pre-1900 Chinese and Japanese books in the Centre for Research Collections, over 40 pre-1900 Chinese books in New College Library's Special Collections, over 100 Chinese law books in Law Library, and over 1,000 modern Chinese books in the Confucius Institute Library. There are also some Chinese DVD films in Edinburgh College of Art Library.

All the above-mentioned materials are indexed in the Library's catalogue system DiscoverEd, except some 10,000 Chinese books in the EAS Collection which are waiting to be catalogued online restrospectively.

The University Library also subscribes to some 50 online resources in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages, in a variety of formats such as bibliographic indexes, e-books, e-journals, digitised classics, full-text dissertations and newspaper archives. About 40 of these databases are produced in the East Asian region. All these online resources can be found in the List of Databases for East Asian Studies.

The University's Languages and Humanities Centre (LHC) at 50 George Square provides several thousand DVD feature and documentary films including several hundred films of and about China, Japan and Korea. The complete listing of all the LHC videos, some of which are available for streaming in the University's Media Hopper, is available via  the Video Catalogue Search in the Teaching and Research -- Learning technology channel of MyEd.

How to find items in your reading list

Use DiscoverEd to search for books, journals, journal articles, DVDs and other physical and electronic items. Use your University Login to sign into your account and manage loans and requests.


Use Resource Lists to find your course reading lists. Lookup reading lists by list title, course title, course code, course instructors.

     Resource lists

     Information for Students

Please note that not all the courses at the University use Resource Lists.

Accessing material beyond the Library collections

If the library does not have what you want then there are several ways of getting access to the material:

The National Library of Scotland

Conveniently located within ten minutes' walk of the University's Main Library, the National Library of Scotland (NLS) holds huge collections of primary and secondary source matierials which may not be available yet in the University Library.

The Inter-Library Loan (ILL) Service

This allows you to request material either held at distant university library sites including the  University Collections Facility, or material not held by the university. 

Book Recommendations

If you are unable to find the book that you need for your studies then use the Student Request a Book (RaB) service to recommend a purchase.

Visit another library

It may be possible (and sometimes quicker) to visit another library in the UK to get access to the item you require. Some reciprocal schemes and agreements allow our staff and students access to some other libraries.

See also:


Highlights of East Asian items

Zhou yi zhuan yi da quan

周易傳義大全 - University's first Chinese book

Cheng Yi, et. al. Zhou yi zhuan yi da quan, China, 1440. The oldest printed book in the University's collections. Donated by Robert Ramsay in 1628. Special Collections   Df.7.106

The Chinese Student

The Chinese Student: Official Organ of the Edinburgh Chinese Students' Union (中國學生雜誌), 1921. Special Collections  S.B. 378(41445)05 Chi.  

Kokuhō Ban dainagon ekotoba


Fujita, Tsuneyo, and Yasunari Kawabata. Kokuhō Ban Dainagon Ekotoba (國寶伴大納言繪詞). Chikuma Shobō, 1971. 3 Japanese scrolls. Special Collections   RB.FF.346, 347, 348

Photograph Album "China", 1858-1864

The Album contains 59 photos of people and places in the latter half of the 19th century China, by Lord Elgin, Felice Beato, M. Miller, S. and Dutton. Special Collections. Shelfmark: ERECA.MS.8

Japanese Paintings: Children's Games, 1894

Centre for Research Collections/Main Library, RB.FF.63