Honours in American Studies

The fourth year Honours program consists of an American Studies seminar, one other seminar chosen from the American-focused fourth year units taught in English, Film Studies, Government and International Relations, and History, and an 18-20,000 word thesis.

Table of Contents

Honours Coordinator

Phone: 9114 2626

(on leave for S2 2014)

Prerequisites and Requirements for Entry into Honours

Requirements for Entry into Honours

AMST2601 American Foundations

and 

AMST3601 American Perspectives

Six Cross-listed Senior Units
(with an average mark of 70 or more)

The Honours Year
An 18-20,000 word thesis

 The American Studies seminar, AND

one other seminar chosen from the American-focused fourth year units taught in English, Film Studies, Government & International Relations, and History

Meeting the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee you entry into the Honours program. Honours places can only be granted where there is also supervisory capacity.

Honours Year Program Structure

The Honours year involves the completion of:

  • A 3,000 word bibliographic essay related to your thesis topic, submitted in semester one.
  • Two Honours seminars during semester one. You must take the compulsory Approaches to American Studies Seminar and you can choose one other seminar from the American-focused fourth year units taught in English, Film Studies, Government and International Relations, and History (admission to these units depends on availability and suitability). Each seminar has 6,000-7,000 words of assessable work;
  • An 18,000-20,000 word thesis due in early October.

Honours is a single unified program. While you will receive marks for all pieces of assessment, your academic transcript will record only your final, overall Honours mark. The thesis (including the preliminary bibliographic essay) is worth 60% of the final mark, and the two seminars are worth 20% each.

In consultation with your supervisor, you may want to do some preparation for your thesis over the Summer break before Semester 1 begins.

Students returning from exchange or internship, those transferring from other universities, and those who have deferred Honours must develop a thesis topic, write a brief proposal and secure a supervisor by early February of their Honours year at the latest.

To Apply for Honours

  1. If you are interested in applying, you should discuss your application with the American Studies Honours coordinator as soon as possible and no later than mid-October 2014. The coordinator will be able to check that you meet the entry requirements, discuss possible supervisors with you, and answer any questions you have.
  2. To apply for Honours, you must pre-enroll with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences through Courses Online by 31 October 2014. As part of this application you must provide proof of contact with the American Studies honours coordinator.
  3. Students must also apply directly to the American Studies Program by completing and emailing the Registration Form to the coordinator by 15 November 2014. Each student’s thesis topic and seminar program must be approved by the Honours Coordinator.

The Registration form is available here

Honours Seminars

Honours students complete two seminars during the first semester. You are required to do the American Studies honours seminar Approaches to American Studies, and one additional American-focused seminar chosen from the English, Film Studies, Government and History departments.

The format of these seminars varies, but may include a combination of group discussions, individual and group-presentations. Each seminar counts toward 20% of the overall Honours mark and involves 6,000-8,000 words of written assessment.

Required Seminar:
Approaches to American Studies ),
American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that has evolved significantly over the decades since World War II. This unit traces the development and evolution of American Studies to demonstrate how and why the field has changed over time. We will examine key themes and concepts, as well as the variety of methodologies that different practitioners have used.

*Seminars for 2015 are to be confirmed

Honours Thesis

You are required to complete an 18-20,000-word thesis on a topic of your choice, supervised by a member of the American Studies Program.

Staff can only supervise a limited number of Honours students each year, so you should make contact with potential supervisors as soon as possible

Ethics Clearance

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences administers a Low Risk Human Research Ethics Committee that processes all Disciplinary Honours-level ethics applications on behalf of the University Office of Research Integrity.
What type of research needs ethics approval?
As a general principle, any research involving human subjects requires ethics approval, including projects involving the following kinds of methodologies (note: the list is not exhaustive):

  1. questionnaires;
  2. surveys or interviews (including oral history);
  3. telephone interviewing;
  4. recording by audio- or video-tape;
  5. observations of behaviour (including ethnographic fieldwork).

Note that a key part of the approval process involves ensuring that the University complies with its duty of care to students. Safety protocols must be prepared for all students conducting any research off-campus, whether in Australia or overseas.

More information can be found on the University of Sydney website Here

If you have any doubts as to whether to proceed with an application for Ethics Approval, discuss first with your supervisor.

Thesis Supervision

There is a single supervisor for the Honours thesis although students are encouraged to draw on the expertise of other faculty members of the American Studies program as appropriate. A list of supervisors can be found Here

Marking Scale for Fourth Year Honours

64% and below: Honours not awarded
65%-69%: Third Class
70%-74%: Second Class, Division Two
75%-79%: Second Class, Division One
80%-100%: First Class
Above 90%: Eligible for medal



  Honours III

           65-69        

Work only barely above the standard of pass-degree work in the field studied. A mark in this range indicates a basic but limited understanding of the methodologies and subject matter of the field or fields studied, and skills in argument and expression that are only just adequate for Honours-level study and research.


Honours II (ii)
 70-74

Work that demonstrates an adequate but limited performance in the methodologies, subjects, and/or languages studied.

 In many fields of the humanities and social sciences, a mark in this range can indicate an adequate general knowledge of the subject from the reading of both primary material and secondary literature, straightforward argumentation, and clear expression. A mark in this range may also reflect a superior performance in one or more of these areas combined with serious lapses in others.

 In work written in a language other than English, a mark in this range indicates a good standard of grammatical accuracy, albeit with some mistakes, including occasional basic ones; the work shows a good grasp of complex sentence structures and an appropriately varied vocabulary.

   Honours II (i)
 75-79

 Work that demonstrates a generally sound knowledge of the methodologies, subject matter, and modes of expression and argumentation appropriate to the field or fields studied.

In many fields of the humanities and social sciences, a mark in this range can indicate solid research; a firm grasp of the relevant scholarly literature; and competent interpretations of data, documentary evidence, fieldwork, literary texts, or works of art. However, work in this range may also show evidence of a higher level of independent thought combined with some significant lapses in research or expression.

In work written in a language other than English, a mark in this range indicates a high standard of grammatical accuracy with few mistakes and only very rare basic errors, with vocabulary and syntax varied and expression highly coherent and well structured.

   Honours I
 80-84  Work that demonstrates a high level of proficiency in the methodologies, subject matter, and modes of expression and argumentation appropriate to the field or fields studied, and shows potential for doctoral study.

 In many fields of the humanities and social sciences, a mark in this range can indicate thorough research; a firm grasp of the relevant scholarly literature; and a high level of skill in interpreting data, documentary evidence, fieldwork, literary texts, or works of art.

 In work written in a language other than English, a mark in this range indicates a very high level of grammatical accuracy with few mistakes and only very rare basic errors, with vocabulary and syntax varied and expression highly coherent and well structured.

 

 85-89  Work that demonstrates a very high level of proficiency in the methodologies, subject matter, and modes of expression and argumentation appropriate to the field or fields studied. Work in this range shows strong promise for doctoral study.

 In many fields of the humanities and social sciences, a mark in this range indicates substantial original research; wide and deep reading in the scholarly literature; a very high level of skill in interpreting data, documentary evidence, fieldwork, literary texts, or works of art; and a high level of independent thought.

 In work written in a language other than English, a mark in this range indicates a very high level of grammatical accuracy with only some mistakes, as well as syntactical sophistication, and nuance in use of vocabulary and register.

 90+  Work demonstrating the highest levels of accomplishment and intellectual autonomy that can be expected from an undergraduate student. An overall Honours mark of 90 or higher is a requirement for the award of a University Medal, though Medals are not automatically awarded to students with overall results of 90 or more.

 In many fields of the humanities and social sciences, a mark in this range indicates substantial and innovative research; wide and deep reading in the scholarly literature; sophisticated, perceptive, and original interpretations of data, documentary evidence, fieldwork, literary texts, or works of art; and a very high level of independent thought and argument.

 In work written in a language other than English, a mark in this range indicates an excellent level of grammatical accuracy, syntactical sophistication, and nuance in use of vocabulary and register. 

Late Work

Requests for extension of time for late seminar work must be made in writing (email will suffice) to the seminar coordinator at the earliest possible date and before the relevant submission dates. You cannot use the online “simple extension” system. The same procedure applies to appeals for special consideration.

Requests for extension of time for late theses must be made in writing (email will suffice) to the honours coordinator at the earliest possible date and before the relevant submission dates. You cannot use the online “simple extension” system. The same procedure applies to appeals for special consideration.

Extensions will be granted only for serious illness or misadventure. Extensions for Honours theses or seminar papers are considered with more gravity than previous undergraduate extensions. You are expected to be working solidly throughout the year to meet deadlines. As noted in the History Department’s Honours handbook: “the bar for an extension is much higher than it is for undergraduate assessments. In particular, a thesis is a long-distance event, not a sprint, and an illness that prevents you from pulling all-nighters in the last week is highly unlikely to be grounds for an extension.”
Late work may not be marked if submitted without an extension. A record will be kept of work that is late without extension and presented to the final American Studies Honours Committee meeting, which will take notice of this in its final assessment and ranking of students.