Questions and Answers about Honours

What is Honours?

Honours is a fourth year of study comprising two units: BIO4100 and BIO4200. BIO4100 focuses on a research project and involves: a written literature review and research proposal, research seminars, and a research thesis based on the project. BIO4200 is a unit of advanced coursework and involves modules on: experimental data analysis and presentation, current research colloquia and written critique, and critical analysis of School seminars.

Research projects are designed by students in consultation with a supervisor, and with advice from other members of the academic staff who act as examiners. Honours research is time-consuming and demands a lot of independence and initiative, but it is also an exciting and rewarding year. An Honours research thesis reporting the results of your work is written at the end of the year. Many thesis results are eventually published in scientific journals. The Honours year will sharpen your skills in independent research, critical analysis of data, and the oral and written presentation of your work, and also provide training in specialist techniques for field and/or laboratory-based research.

What are the Prerequisites?

Students must meet the Faculty requirements for entry into Honours, which include being course complete, having an average above 70 for your top-four Level 3 units, and having the agreement of a supervisor.

Students from other universities who wish to pursue Honours research in the School of Biological Sciences should have qualifications comparable to those above. Please contact the Honours coordinator for more information.

Can I start at mid-year?

Yes. Biology Honours may commence in either Semester 1 (mid-February) or Semester 2 (mid-July). However, the Semester start should be discussed or negotiated with your supervisor. Note that some projects, particularly involving fieldwork, may require a Semester 2 start date due to the seasonal nature of the flora or fauna being studied. Applications for a mid-year start close early June, 2019.

What projects are offered?

For a list of potential Honours projects and supervisors please see Biology Honours Projects 2019.

One of the prerequisites for Honours outlined above, is the consent of a member of the research staff in the School of Biological Sciences to act as your supervisor. Follow the process outlined below for contacting potential supervisors to discuss the projects that they are offering. Honours supervision requires a large time commitment over nearly a year, and supervisors are unlikely to make such a commitment without first having discussed the project with you. Be certain that you understand the amount of work a project will require, and that you have alerted potential supervisors any employment or other time commitments that might constrain you.

Each supervisor may accept a maximum of 2 new Honours students each year. Supervisors' ability to accommodate honours students varies from year to year, and some supervisors may be able to take on fewer than the maximum.

The application process?

Applying for Biology Honours involves six steps:

  1. Read the list of potential honours projects and supervisors (as linked above). This will generally be posted on the School's website in mid-August each year, for projects starting the following year.
  2. If possible, attend the Biology Honours information session that will be run during Semester 2. Also attend the faculty information session.
  3. During late August-mid-November, contact potential supervisors and arrange to discuss the projects that they are offering. Ensure that you come prepared (i.e. an idea of your research interests and what you want from honours, a print out of your academic transcript) to the meeting.
  4. If you have tried to arrange a project, but are struggling to find a project or supervisor, please contact Anne Peters for assistance and advice.
  5. Complete the School of Biological Sciences Project Preference Form (Semester 1 OR Semester 2 start). Please forward the Google form response email to Kate Elliott,  cc'ing in your supervisor.
  6. Complete the Faculty of Science Online Honours Application.

Submit the Project Preference Form and Faculty Application by 16 November, 2018 for S1 applications.Semester two applications will be due in June 2019.

External applications: Please contact the Honours co-ordinator for assistance with applying for Honours.

How are projects allocated?

For each applicant, the Honours co-ordinator will calculate the average for the top-four Level 3 units, and check that the student meets the Faculty requirements for Honours entry (note that the ultimate decision for Honours entry is made at Faculty level).

The Honours co-ordinator will allocate projects in late November-December. Students will need to be contactable via email during this time to accept or decline project offers. Note that both the Semester 1 and Semester 2 projects are allocated during this time, for projects starting the following year.

For students that receive (and accept) a project offer from the School, they will also receive a separate notification from the Faculty regarding their enrollment in Honours. Honours commences two weeks prior to Week 1 of Semester. This is to enable students to undertake a 2-week Training Program before they start their honours projects. Successful applicants will receive an email from Fiona close to the commencement date outlining the Induction Program.

What does the training program involve?

The School runs a 2-week Training Program for new Honours students, which starts two weeks prior to Week 1. The program is compulsory and students should be available between 9am-5pm for these two weeks. A detailed program will be emailed to students by Fiona prior to the commencement of the program. The Training Program consists of:

  • Meeting School staff
  • Information and workshops on the honours program and assessment
  • Introduction to a range of technical, safety and administrative matters
  • Library information and workshops
  • Occupational health and safety sessions
  • A series of relevant programs