Appendix 2 – grade descriptors

(source:  Science Honours Program - Policy, Procedures and  Guidelines for  Good Practice 2013)

H1 (80 - 100)
Broad features
An ‘upper H1’ (90 - 100)  student has strengths in all of the following areas:

  • outstanding command of expression and logical argument in  a skilfully structured manuscript;
  • superior evaluation and integration of existing  literature;
  • evidence of significant insight and original thought in  dealing with the critical issues;
  • sophisticated understanding of research methods, with  evidence of careful attention to critical design issues in the execution of the project;
  • thoughtful and appropriate choice of data analysis (where  appropriate) and outstanding presentation and reporting of results;
  • clear and coherent interpretation of the thesis data,  and/or the results of other studies;
  • comprehensive understanding of the importance of the  results in the context of the theoretical framework.

A ‘lower H1’ (80 -90)  student displays many of the above strengths but is less well-balanced in  overall quality.
Overall: An H1 student (upper or lower) is obviously capable of  undertaking postgraduate research and warrants strong scholarship support.

H2A (70 - 79)
Broad features
The project/thesis is characterised  by most of the following:

  • the manuscript is well written, logically argued and  generally well structured;
  • the evaluation and integration of the existing literature  is very sound without being outstanding;
  • reasonable insight and some evidence of original thought  in dealing with the critical issues;
  • evidence of a solid understanding of research methods;
  • adequate design of the research project, although possibly  containing minor but retrievable errors;
  • choice of data analysis that is appropriate for the design (although less well justified than might be expected of H1 standard), and clear  presentation of results;
  • generally sound but pedestrian interpretation of results  and their importance to the theoretical context.
  • Overall: An H2A student is capable of undertaking postgraduate  research.

H2B (60 - 69)
Broad features
The project/thesis is characterised  by most of the following:

  • generally competently written, although some problems  exist in the logical organisation of the text and the way it is expressed;
  • provides an adequate coverage of the literature, although  it tends to be more descriptive than evaluative, and arguments are often disjointed;
  • occasional evidence of insight into the issues underlying  the thesis or essay, but little evidence of original thinking;
  • basic but somewhat limited understanding of the research  methods;
  • the design of the research project is generally adequate  but is marred by some errors and oversights;
  • serviceable choice of data analysis, although other  approaches may have been more appropriate;
  • the presentation of results lacks clarity;
  • interpretation of results or other studies is adequate but  limited.

Overall: An H2B student may be capable of undertaking postgraduate  research but would require close supervision.

H3 (50 - 59)
Broad features
The project/thesis is characterised  by most of the following:

  • the work is not well written and shows flaws in the  structuring of logical arguments;
  • coverage of the necessary literature is weak, with  insufficient information provided to support the arguments made, or conclusions drawn, within the thesis or essay;
  • little evidence of insight and ideas tend to be highly  derivative;
  • knowledge of research methods is deficient;
  • serious flaws exist in the design of the research project  making it difficult for the research to meet its aims;
  • data analysis techniques are arbitrary or inappropriate;
  • the results are poorly presented;
  • interpretations are superficial, demonstrating a weak  understanding of the results and their relevance to the theoretical framework.

Overall: Although a student’s undergraduate performance merited  eligibility for Honours, the student showed considerable difficulty in mastering  the higher-order skills
required at Honours level  and would not be able to undertake postgraduate research.

Fail (0 - 50)
Broad features
The project/thesis is characterised  by most of the following:

  • the work is very poorly written and shows a serious inability  to structure and present a logical argument;
  • coverage of the necessary literature is inadequate, with  little information provided relevant to the claims made, or conclusions drawn, within the thesis;
  • serious misunderstanding of key concepts and issues;
  • knowledge of research methods is lacking;
  • serious flaws exist in the design of the research project  making it difficult or impossible for the research to meet its aims;
  • data analysis techniques are inappropriate and the results  are presented inadequately;
  • an inability to show how the results of the research  project relate to the theoretical framework; serious misinterpretations of  results.

Overall: Think carefully before awarding this grade - it casts  doubt on the student's admission in the first place.