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 of Science 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 Co-ordinator 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.

What projects are offered?

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

How do I find a supervisor?

One of the prerequisites for Honours is the consent of a member of the research staff in the School of Biological Sciences to act as your supervisor.

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.

Follow the application process (see How to Apply) for contacting potential supervisors to discuss the projects that they are offering.

If you have tried to arrange a project, but are struggling to find a project or supervisor, please contact the Honours Co-ordinator for assistance and advice.

How are Honours projects allocated?

Applicants should note that the ultimate decision for Honours entry is made at Faculty level. The Faculty of Science will calculate the average for the top-four Level 3 units, and check that the student meets the requirements for Honours entry.

If the student meets the requirements AND has the agreement of a supervisor, the Faculty of Science will make an offer to the student.

  • Offers for Semester 1 will be made in December.
  • Offers for Semester 2 will be made in late June/early July.

What happens after I receive an offer?

Honours commences two weeks prior to Week 1 of Semester. This is to enable students to undertake a two week compulsory Training Program before they start their Honours projects. Successful applicants will receive an email close to the commencement date outlining the Training Program.

What does the training program involve?

The School runs a two 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 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