Admission to Honours

The Anthropology Honours course is an intensive, whole-year course for students who have completed the requirements of the Undergraduate Pass degree. To qualify for admission to honours in Anthropology, students must have a credit average or better in 48 senior credit points of Anthropology, including ANTH3601 and ANTH3602 pre-honours seminars (or, for exchange students, their agreed upon equivalent to be established in consultation with the honours coordinator).
Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.

ANTH3601 Contemporary Theory and Anthropology is offered in Semester 1 and ANTH3602 Reading Ethnography is offered in Semester 2. We recommend completing these units in sequence, but if this is not possible in your program, they can be taken in reverse order, with ANTH3602 first.

Note that the prerequisites for enrolment in ANTH3601 and ANTH3602 are 12 Credit Points of Senior Anthropology.

Applications from students from other universities with equivalent qualifications are also encouraged.

The Department does not have a mid year intake for the Honours program. Part-time Honours enrollment is not normally supported.

Planning Your Degree

Students who complete the two junior Anthropology units of study ANTH1001 and ANTH1002 with a Credit or better record should start planning their degree so that there is the potential to qualify for enrolment in an honours year. We ask you to bear the following in mind:

a) In a standard BA degree students complete 16 senior units of study. Qualification for entry into Honours takes up 8 of those senior units of study. If you complete a double major that takes up a further 6 of those units. That leaves only two units that can be taken from outside your double major. If you want to keep open the possibility of qualifying for honours in either major then ALL your senior units must be taken from within those majors. The Anthropology major is offered in other 3 year degrees such as the Bachelor of International and Global Studies and the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Because of the more structured nature of these degrees, students should be particularly careful about planning their major from the beginning of the second year.

b) Students who are planning to go overseas on Exchange in the final year of their degree need to consider how they will complete the prerequisite units ANTH3601 and ANTH3602.

  1. If you are planning to go on exchange in semester 2 of your final year than you may complete two senior units of Anthropology in semester 1 of your second year and ANTH3602 in semester 2 of your second year.
  2. If your are planning to go on exchange in semester 1 of your final year then you should plan to go on exchange to a University where a unit rated as equivalent to ANTH3601 is offered.

c) Students enrolled in 4 year degrees (eg. BA[MECO], BA[Languages], BSc/BA) may have more flexibility in their planning but still need to keep the prerequisites in mind. Students enrolled in BA/BLaws and BA/BSocialWork should note that all the Arts requirements of those degrees are completed within the first 3 years.

All students planning exchange should contact the Honours Coordinator before going away to reality check the structure of their degree and their choice of exchange units.

Applications for entry into Honours

Information on the application process can be found on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Honours application page.

All applications are forwarded to the Department of Anthropology’s Honours Coordinator for a response to the Faculty recommendation. That recommendation will be based on the stated prerequisites for entry in Anthropology Honours and may be conditional in the case where units of study remain to be completed. The Faculty will also refer to the department applications from students who haven’t completed all the prerequisites. In such cases the Faculty will not recommend admission. In these cases, the department’s Honours Coordinator can make a case to the Associate Dean for admission if they believe that is appropriate, however there can be no guarantee that case will be accepted. Students who want to do honours and find themselves unable to fulfil all the prerequisites should contact the Honours Coordinator as early as possible for advice.


University of Sydney Honours Scholarships: The University of Sydney is offering about fifty Honours Scholarships each year, currently valued at $6,000 each.

Students currently enrolled at the University of Sydney or other universities intending to undertake Honours year at the University of Sydney are eligible to apply.

Further information is available at: http://sydney.edu.au/scholarships/current/honours_scholarships.shtml

Honours Co-ordinator

Dr. Dr. Åse Ottosson

Room 166, RC Mills Building A26
+612 9114 1286

School of Social and Political Sciences

Room 140 Level 1, RC Mills Building, A26
Telephone: +612 9351 2650
Fax: +612 9036 9380

Find your supervisor on this staff list.

A Guide to Honours

Department of Anthropology
School of Social and Political Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


Preliminary Note on Enrolment

I Introduction

II The Seminars

III The Thesis Process

IV Thesis Writing Workshop

V Thesis Guidelines

VI Honours Grading Policies and Guidelines

VII Department of Anthropology Thesis Examination Policy

VIII Honours seminars and workshop timetable

A Preliminary Note on Enrolment for Honours with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Applicants for entry into Honours will be notified of the result of their application by the Faculty. Successful applicants who choose to take up the offer should then enrol as advised by the Faculty Office.

Full-time students simply enrol in four ‘shell’ units, ANTH4011 and ANTH4012 (Anthropology Honours A and Anthropology Honours B) in Semester 1 and ANTH4013 and ANTH4014 (Anthropology Honours C and Anthropology Honours D) in Semester 2. These codes bear no relation to actual seminars taken or pieces of assessment. As a matter of convenience we timetable Coursework Seminar 1 as ANTH4011 and Coursework Seminar 2 as ANTH4012.


The Structure of the Honours Year:

The Honours year has three aspects:

  • In Semester 1, students complete two seminars that address key theoretical complexes in the discipline of Anthropology. Assessment for each of those seminars is worth 20% of the final honours mark.
  • Throughout the year students develop a research project in consultation with a supervisor that culminates in a thesis of 18000 – 20000 words worth 60% of the final honours mark.
  • Thesis Writing Workshop - held throughout the year to assist with the thesis writing process

Purpose and Outcomes of Honours

The Honours year is a preparation for further research and project work in a variety of contexts, including higher degree research, employment with research teams working on large scale projects, and any employment that involves independent and innovative thought, critical analysis and synthesis of materials, theoretical skills, and high standards of written and oral communication. Students are expected to bring an open-minded disposition to explore different approaches to anthropology, a willingness to explore a range of different sources, and the ability to show initiative in locating new sources. They are expected to develop an understanding of how to serve as part of a professional and collegial community of scholars, furthering the discipline of anthropology and the many fields and activities with which it engages.

In summary, outcomes of the Honours year include:

  • literature identification and evaluation skills
  • the capacity to develop a research problem in conjunction with a supervisor
  • the identification and development of a personal profile of interests, analytic talents and ethical commitments
  • a developed appreciation of disciplinary based theory and method
  • specific writing skills including literature review, sustained analysis and empirical description
  • large writing project management and development
  • time management
  • preparation for PhD study


Honours students are expected to attend the Anthropology Research Seminars. These seminars are held on Thursday afternoons from 3 – 5 pm in Mills Seminar Room 148. These seminars are on a diverse range of topics from presenters both in the department and from other institutions, Australian and international. The seminars are an opportunity for you to broaden your experience of anthropological problems and approaches by engaging with scholars who present papers on their current research projects. Honours students are especially welcome to meet the presenters and enjoy conviviality in the form of further intellectual ruminations as well as free drinks and nibbles after the seminars.

Anthropology Honours timeline

  1. Week 1, Semester 1: Honours coursework seminars both commence week 1.
  2. Week 2, Semester 1: The thesis workshop convenes in week 2 and continues as agreed between the convener and students throughout semester 1.
  3. Friday of Week 2, Semester 1: Agreement on supervisor and broad area of thesis topic interest (submit to coordinator electronically)
  4. Friday of Week 6, Semester 1: Outline of thesis topic (no more than 200 words) and a working bibliography of references that indicate the profile and viability of the thesis topic (submit to Honours Coordinator electronically).
  5. End Week 13, Semester 1: coursework seminars finish.
  6. Firs or Second Week of Examination Period in June: Thesis Epitomes – date yet to be confirmed.
  7. August, Semester 2: For those who choose to participate, the Thesis Writing Workshop will reconvene with focus on reviewing and editing chapter text.
  8. 1st October: Students are strongly encouraged to have a complete draft of the thesis submitted to their supervisor by the 1st October at the latest.
  9. Monday of Last Week of Teaching in Semester 2: Thesis Due Date: Four hard copies to be submitted to the school office, and electronic copy to be submitted to the Honours Coordinator. In 2015, this is Monday 26th October.
  10. Honours Examination Committee meets in the second full week of November


The Department and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences regard the Honours year as a single, unified program. Consequently, while Honours students receive marks on the assignments they write in their seminars, they receive only one overall grade for Honours on their academic transcript. At the first semester, students will receive an ‘RINC’ mark (indicating satisfactory performance) on their academic record. Their final, overall Honours mark will be for the Anthropology Honours D course code (ANTH 4014).

Late work and extensions

Requests for extension of time for late work must be made in writing (email) to the Honours Coordinator at the earliest possible date and before the relevant submission dates. If this work involves a seminar you should still address your request for an extension to the Honours Coordinator but you should ALSO copy the seminar coordinator into your email. The same procedure applies to appeals for special consideration.

Extensions will be granted only for serious illness or misadventure. Applications must be accompanied by relevant documentary support. For theses and seminar papers, 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 penalties apply from the day after the published due date. The penalty applied is two marks (out of 100) per day, where ‘day’ refers only to working days (i.e. week days).


In the two seminars we further develop your disciplinary training. They are explicitly designed to complement each other, and the work done in the two Honours prerequisite units of study, ANTH3601 Contemporary Theory and Anthropology and ANTH3602 Reading Ethnography. ANTH3601 links a critical examination of key concepts in the development of the discipline to an appreciation of its distinctive method. ANTH3602 addresses the vital role of various regional ethnographic literatures as key contexts of debate, writing and comparative analysis. The two Honours seminars focus on two domains of social theory that are central to understanding the history and contemporary profile of the discipline, and which speak to contrasting visions of the human condition. The seminars explore a sense of discipline, not as synthetic but rather as in tension.

Anthropology Honours Seminar A: Anthropology and the Nation State

This class is an upper-level introduction to some of the classic theoretical and ethnographic literature in political anthropology, focusing on the study of “power” in research on states and nationalism.

Objectives include:

  • Understand the concept of “theory” in the social sciences and explicitly connect social theory and ethnographic writing;
  • Develop the ability to understand, assess, and compare different theoretical approaches to similar topics/questions;
  • Understand the ways that anthropologists, political scientists, and political theorists have approached the questions of state power and nationalism;
  • Solid exposure to some of the most influential writing in anthropology about nations and states and a capacity to critically assess the study of state power and nationalism;
  • Understand materialist approaches to the social world and gain an introduction to both structuralist and post-structuralist approaches to power and states;
  • Ability to link theoretical writings to Honours Thesis interests.

Assessment: Two written assignments and short Blackboard based responses, totalling 6000 words.

Anthropology Honours Seminar B: Levi-Strauss' Structuralism between Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis

This course explores Levi-Strauss' work in the light of existential phenomenological and psychoanalytic critiques. It provides a basis for the understanding of anthropology in the context of current Western philosophical/scientific thought. Levi-Strauss' opus is a veritable watershed of both the 20th century anthropological thought and of the Western critical thought in general. His structural anthropology articulates all the contradictory dynamics of modern anthropology by bringing into original intellectual synthesis vast ethnographic evidence and theoretical insights. His thought exemplifies the vicissitudes, uniqueness, and limitations of the Western intellectual tradition presently in the process of derailment. Within the framework of the Honours programme this course enables the students to deepen their critical knowledge of anthropological theory and the importance of the comparative understanding in relation to the practice of ethnography (which Levi-Strauss thought to contain "the principle of all research"). It will also stimulate the development of their library research skills and experience in formulating their thesis project

Assessment: Written work, totalling 6000 words.


Academic Staff Research Fields and Availability

Prospective Honours students may find details on academic staff availability for supervision and links to staff research profiles at : http://sydney.edu.au/arts/anthropology/staff/academic.shtml


Each supervisory relationship tends to develop its own distinctive pattern depending on the working styles of supervisor and student and the specific nature of the project. Nevertheless the workloads of both staff and students mean that sessions will be scheduled and limited in length. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Supervision Code of Practice sets out the responsibilities of departments, students and supervisors. See http://sydney.edu.au/arts/downloads/documents/policy/Honours_Supervision_Code_Practice.pdf

Students should be familiar with this code as a starting point in developing an effective supervisory process. Generally speaking, as the year goes by, it will be more and more the case that written work is the most effective way to get a precise and useful response from your supervisor. Also the more you, as a student, know what you want from a session, the more useful it is likely to be. Having said that, it is also the case that at some stage you are likely to be stuck, ‘blocked’ and confused. This is NOT the time to avoid your supervisor but precisely the time to insist on seeing them!

Developing a topic

While the seminars are still a forum of disciplinary teaching given their emphasis and structure by the convenor, the thesis is based on a research program that is ultimately driven by the interests, strategies and capacities of the student. This is the context in which, rather than solving problems that are set for you, you explore your own distinctive relationship to the discipline through developing your own problems. With this in mind we encourage students to begin exploratory discussions on possible topics with potential supervisors as early as possible. As much as we can, we allow the choice of supervisor to emerge from such discussions. In the end, however, other factors such as staff availability and workload require that final confirmation of your supervisor must be done in consultation with the Honours Coordinator.

In developing a topic, two important criteria in the examination of the thesis should be born in mind. These are, that the thesis be built around a problem that can:

  • be clearly located in contemporary and/or past understandings of the discipline (with the proviso that this is a department of social and cultural anthropology, not a three or four fields department).
  • framed in relation to a distinctively anthropological literature in both its ethnographic and theoretical terms. We recognise that the discipline draws on a broad range of social theory and philosophy but the thesis should recognise the distinctive way in which that theorising has been bent to anthropological purposes.

There is a range of ways in which you will be guided on this. The main one will be in conversation with your supervisor. However you should recognise that there are other reference points that you can take advantage of:

  • the disciplinary training of your major, the Honours prerequisite units of study and the Honours seminars;
  • the feedback from your presentation in the ‘epitomes’;
  • the thesis writing workshop;
  • discussion more broadly with members of the anthropology staff.

Thesis outline and bibliography

By the end of Week 6 of Semester 1, working in cooperation with your supervisor, you are required to submit to the Honours Coordinator an outline of your thesis topic (no more than 200 words) and a working bibliography of references that indicate the empirical and theoretical profile and viability of the thesis topic. While an outline at this stage of the year must always be provisional it is important that you establish that your thesis has a substantial and diverse empirical literature to draw on with a strong foundation in the discipline. In theoretical terms the more that your thesis can work off established or developing debates in the discipline the better.

Time and writing management

You will have already established techniques for managing your time and writing and in the Honours year you should build on your established sense of what works for you. However there are some distinctive features of the Honours year that you need to bear in mind. Generally these relate to the character of the thesis as a research project and as a writing project on a scale that you have not so far attempted.

  • Time Management. During semester 1 you will have to balance the more immediate reading and assessment demands of the two seminars with the longer term discipline of developing the research project on which your thesis will be based. The seminars will require both a significant quantum of reading and will be intellectually challenging. Nevertheless laying the foundation for your thesis will still require a regular 10 – 15 hours per week of your time. Regular meetings with your supervisor (one hour per fortnight would be the norm in first semester), and the thesis writing workshop, will help you to structure this time with appropriate goals, deadlines and writing tasks.
  • Writing Management: From the end of semester one on the problem is almost the opposite. Now there is only the thesis. Rather than making time for thesis research you have to structure the process of actually writing the thesis. The important thing to understand is that writing a 20,000 word thesis is a very different task from writing a 4000 word essay. Most students do not know the final shape of their thesis before they start writing, and for many the thesis winds up with a very different shape from what they had imagined at the start. While this can be an idiosyncratic process, and supervisory relationships are specific both to the personalities of supervisor and student and the nature of the project, the most productive feedback you will get in this process of discovery is from detailed written work. In Honours you should come to appreciate writing not simply as the finished form of a piece of work but as part of the dialogue through which it is constructed. While your relationship with your supervisor is the most important part of this process, the thesis writing workshop will continue in semester 2 in the form of red-inking sessions for those who choose to participate.


The Department of Anthropology ‘Epitomes’ is a long-standing tradition of the department. It is a forum in which students orally present thesis proposals to Honours and postgraduate students and academic staff of the Department. Generally speaking proposals are 15-20 minutes in length with 10 to 15 minutes of discussion. Proposals should indicate:

  • the problem to be investigated;
  • possible lines of argument;
  • a sketch of the empirical sources and literature;
  • a sketch of the relevant disciplinary debates.

The aims of the Epitomes are:

  • development of academic oral presentation skills
  • to provide a deadline and a forum to help you bring the thesis problem into focus
  • to ‘advertise’ your project to the department in general and put student and supervisor in touch with as full a range of suggestions about possible relevant lines of investigation
  • to get students to be proactive about what they might want/need in the way of input on their project

You will discuss the nature of the Epitomes further with supervisors and in the thesis writing workshop. You will be advised of their timing by the Honours Coordinator within the first three weeks of the semester.


The aim of the Thesis Workshops is to familiarise and help you with the thesis writing process, which is distinctly different from essay writing as you experienced it as an undergraduate student. During Semester 1, the focus of the writing workshop will be on:

  • How to write the 200 word abstract;
  • Learning the ropes of reviewing and editing chapter text;
  • Preparing the Epitomes presentations.

The first two hour session of the Thesis Writing Workshop with Honours Coordinator Dr Åse Ottosson is Monday March 9, 2015, 2-4 pm, in RC Mills A26, room 205. Further meetings will be arranged as agreed in the first session. There is ample room to cover topics and themes, and your active input, needs and suggestions will shape the agenda. In the past we have included meetings about:

  • General writing hints, tips, and rules (from using endnote to choosing fonts);
  • Generating TOCs and Lists of Tables and Figures in Word;
  • How to narrow your subject down;
  • How to structure an argument/a thesis;
  • How to begin writing;

Towards the end of Semester 1, and once your essays are out of the way, the main aim of the Thesis Writing Workshop is to get you started on your thesis.

The thesis writing workshop will continue in semester 2 with the following three aims in mind:

  1. to develop a critical engagement with writing as a process
  2. to develop the capacity to recognise key points of argument in one’s own writing
  3. to develop the capacity to edit one’s own writing



The Department of Anthropology strongly recommends that, if you have not already done so, you acquire a style manual (or access an on-line versionl) as a guide to all those interesting questions like: Should footnote markers come before or after punctuation marks? Should I spell out numbers or give them in numeral form? When should a word be capitalised? Etc etc.

The International benchmark reference is the Chicago Manual of Style. The Australian Government Style Manual: For Authors, Editors and Printers is also a good guide. Remember that whatever guide you choose consistency of usage and practice throughout a document is a fundamental principle.


The referencing system used in the discipline of Anthropology is In-Text Referencing (sometimes called the 'Harvard system'). This simply puts the author's name, date of publication and page(s) referred to in the body of the text and uses the bibliography to provide the full citation. Do not use footnotes for referencing.

More detail can be found on the Anthropology style guide page

A good introduction to the Harvard System can be found at the WriteSite

Thesis Layout

  1. Min 3 cm left margin
  2. The aim of the choice of font and size is to make the thesis readable. Generally speaking a font size equivalent to Times New Roman 12 is recommended. Please use a single font consistently throughout the thesis unless there are clear justifications in terms of layout and presentation for doing otherwise. Footnotes should use a smaller font that is still legible
  3. Line Spacing 1.5
  4. Paragraph spacing 2.5 lines
  5. Quotes of more than 20 words indented - no quotation marks
  6. Default quotation marks should be singles
  7. Sub-headings within chapters should be bold font
  8. Sub-sub-headings, if used, should be distinguished using italics
  9. Use footnotes – please use with discretion.

Thesis Submission

Four (4) hard copies of the thesis to be submitted to the school office by 4pm on the last MONDAY of teaching semester 2, and an electronic copy to be submitted to the Honours Coordinator


All theses when submitted should include an abstract of between 150 – 200 words. The purpose of the abstract is to convey to a potential reader the main argument, substantive themes and theoretical profile of the thesis. You will be asked to present a proposed abstract of your thesis in Semester 1 as a way of making the nature of your interests more broadly known within the department, and as a means of getting you to clarify these interests for yourself. We understand that the final version of the thesis may depart substantially from this early abstract – we see it as part of a process of thesis development.

Word length – what it does and does not include

The thesis should be 18,000 – 20,000 words long. There is no 10% allowance. Put differently, 20,000 words is the absolute maximum word length. The word count of the thesis does not include (a) notes (b) references cited list (c) appendices (d) abstract. This is not a license to stuff information into notes and appendices. Appendices should only be included where there is clear justification and notes should be used appropriately and with discretion. Please remember that anthropology uses in-text referencing.

Past theses

Copies of relevant past Honours theses can be borrowed from the School Office in the lower level of the Mills Building or for more recent theses, electronic copies can be requested from the honours coordinator. You must leave your student card with the office while you have the thesis. For electronic these remember that these are to be used for your own study purposes and cannot be further circulated with the permission of the author. We are working on developing an eRepository of Honours theses and at the end of the year you will be asked to submit your thesis in a PDF format to facilitate this process. Clearly you need to consent to this and you will be sent a copyright permission form and information at the end of the year to allow you to make an informed decision.

Front page.

The thesis should open with (1) Title Page (2) Academic Honesty Statement (3) Abstract (4) Table of Contents. Numbering proper begins with the fist page of the actual text of the thesis. A model of the title page and the Academic Honesty Statement are provided below:



A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the
Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Department of Anthropology
School of Social and Political Sciences
University of Sydney


Please read http://sydney.edu.au/arts/downloads/documents/policy/academic_dishonesty_in_coursework_policy_2012.pdf

I certify that:

  1. I have read and understood the University of Sydney Student Plagiarism: Coursework Policy and Procedure;
  2. I understand that failure to comply with the Student Plagiarism: Coursework Policy and Procedure can lead to the University commencing proceedings against me for potential student misconduct under Chapter 8 of the University of Sydney By-Law 1999 (as amended);
  3. This work is substantially my own, and to the extent that any part of this work is not my own I have indicated that it is not my own by acknowledging the Source of that part or those parts of the work.

Signature:                                                                         Date:                         


For most students whose projects have a library basis, ethics clearance is not an issue. If you are contemplating research involving human subjects it must be done in close consultation with your supervisor. Honours projects that include Research involving Human subjects must be granted Ethics Approval. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciencesoperates an Ethics Committee, comprising representatives from all four Schools, and which is constituted as a low-risk approvals committee by the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee. See information at http://sydney.edu.au/arts/current_students/undergraduate/honours_thesis_ethic.shtml

Honours projects other than those involving research with children, indigenous peoples and travel overseas may be submitted via the Faculty Office. Applications should be made on the University form, available at http://sydney.edu.au/research_support/ethics/human/. Submission requires the original and six copies.

We emphasise that projects that propose such research will only be accepted with a supervisor’s full commitment and approval and that consultation should begin about such matters as early as possible.


The information on Honours grading consists of four sections:

  1. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences policy on the Interpretation of Grades and Medals
  2. An overview of the criteria used in the assessment of Honours coursework and thesis that interpret the Faculty generic criteria from the point of view of teaching in the Department of Anthropology
  3. A more detailed set of criteria that should be taken into account in the assessment of a thesis in the Department of Anthropology
  4. Concluding note on grades

1. Interpretation of Grades and Medals: Grade Descriptors for Honours Work in Arts

(Endorsed by the Faculty Board on 8 November 2010)
NB: These grade descriptors apply to all Honours assessments, coursework as well as theses. These descriptors are broad indices. They are not intended to replace, but rather complement Departmental statements on marking criteria.

80-100: First Class (I)

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.

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.

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.

75-79: Second Class, First Division (II.1)

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.

70-74: Second Class, Second Division (II.2)

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.

65-69: Third Class (III)

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.

Below 65%

Honours not awarded.

2. Honours Grading Guidelines - Department of Anthropology

The following guides to grading in Honours course and thesis work are based on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences guidelines. They have been complemented to address specificities of the discipline of anthropology.

It is assumed that there is a qualitative difference between a student’s work in Honours, and work submitted for a Pass degree.

Honours students are expected to have achieved the following:

  • good specialist knowledge of the chosen subject, which may involve specific technical components;
  • a good general understanding of the theoretical bases of the discipline;
  • appropriate knowledge of any ancillary requirements, e.g. knowledge of specific languages, research methodology, field work;
  • ability to undertake and carry through one or more sustained research projects; and
  • ability to achieve a high level of written expression and documentation in these and other assessment tasks

Specific to Anthropology:

  • A facility with discourse/style conventional to anthropological writing;
  • An ability to develop a sustained, empirically/ethnographically informed analysis ;
  • A capacity to position the argument of the thesis within the discipline;
  • A recognition of what the discipline of anthropology brings to the topic/analysis in question.

3. Detailed Assessment Criteria for Anthropology Theses

Problem and Argument
A thesis in anthropology should

  • be built around a problem that can

    (a) be clearly located in contemporary and/or past understandings of the discipline (with the proviso that this is a department of social and cultural anthropology, not a three or four fields department).

    (b) is also built around a distinctively anthropological literature in both its ethnographic and theoretical terms. We acknowledge that the discipline draws on a broad range of social theory and philosophy but the thesis should recognise the distinctive way in which that theorising has been used anthropological purposes.

  • Clearly develop and state a thesis (argument)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the significance of the thesis topic in terms of where it sits in the discipline as a whole
  • Develop appropriate dialogue between ethnographic material and anthropologically inflected forms of theorising
  • Incorporate an awareness of literature relevant to the specific field of interest within which the thesis is located into the development of the argument.
  • Incorporate into the development of the thesis a recognition of debates and counter-arguments where relevant

Quality of Research and Writing

Quality of the sources used

  • a sufficient quantity of relevant journal articles and books have been consulted
  • key authors and texts in the area have been identified and consulted

Breadth of the sources used

  • no over-reliance on a limited number of sources
  • the sources reflect a range of perspectives
  • sources used demonstrate an awareness of the range of disciplinary publication

Interpretation of the sources

  • clearly understands the argument and context of the source
  • draws on the source appropriately and economically in the development of the argument
  • demonstrates a capacity to recognise the points of convergence and difference between sources
  • draws on the connections between sources to develop the argument of the thesis
  • demonstrates a capacity to read ethnographic sources against the grain of their argument where appropriate

Clearly written and comprehensible

  • entences flow seamlessly without redundancy
  • appropriate use of vocabulary
  • uses grammar to proper logical effect
  • avoids run-on sentences
  • original and engaging academic style of writing

Use of paragraphs and sequencing of argument

  • each paragraph is in sequence, and has a clear and specific point
  • paragraphs flow seamlessly in support of the essay argument
  • connections between points are either implicitly and appropriately drawn in the flow of argument or are made explicit
  • connections between points are appropriately linked the overall flow of argument


  • all sources clearly identified
  • all claims supported where appropriate
  • referencing allows the sources and foundations of the argument to be clearly identified
  • quotations accurate and precisely referenced. Accurate use of in-text style referencing.

4. Concluding Note on Grades

Please also note that the faculty interpretation of grades is built around the following criteria:

a. originality

b. independence of thought,

c. sophistication of expression and argument

d. understanding of a field,

e. competence in the identification of sources and relevant arguments

Within these criteria d) and e) are the necessary criteria that must be met to qualify for anthropology Honours. Criteria a), b) and c) are most relevant to the distinction between first, second and third class Honours and to the finer discriminations of marks within the Honours 1 range.


The Honours Coordinator shall convene a meeting of the Department of Anthropology Honours Examination Board during the Semester 2 Examination period, taking account of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences deadlines for the submission of final Honours results. The following policy and procedure shall be followed:

  1. Two examiners and one further mandatory reader appointed for each thesis. The supervisor of the thesis should be neither an examiner nor a reader
  2. A proposal on examiners and readers to be put together by the Honours Coordinator in consultation with the Chair of Department and circulated for comment to all supervisors by the end of third week of September. The proposal should have an eye to finding at least one examiner with expertise in the topical area of the thesis but it should be recognised that this cannot be guaranteed.
  3. Recognising the specific balance of emphasis required by different theses, reports should nevertheless address the departmental examination criteria. Reports will be circulated to students at the conclusion of the examination process.
  4. Examiners will determine initial evaluations and marking of the thesis independently and both the reports and the marks will be submitted to the Honours Coordinator at least one day before the examiner’s meeting and will be circulated to all participants in the examiners meeting.
  5. During the examiner’s meeting examiners have the option of amending their marks in response to discussion of the thesis, and of their own reports, by other examiners and readers
  6. A thesis result may be finalised by averaging the two examiners’ marks when (a) any two marks are no more than 7% apart (b) when any two marks are not separated by more than one grade boundary.
  7. In the case in which examiners are unable to modify their marks to meet these conditions the thesis should be sent to a third examiner appointed by the Chair of Department for assessment.
  8. All discussions at the Departmental Honours Examination Board are confidential.

Student access to reports and marks

  1. Honours candidates shall normally have access to the examiners’ reports after the finalisation of results at the Departmental Honours Examination Board.
  2. These reports may be amended by the examiners as a result of discussion at the examination meeting, prior to dissemination to students.
  3. All reports shall be disseminated to students by the Honours Coordinator only.
  4. Final thesis marks and final overall Honours marks may be made available to students by the Honours Coordinator. No marks, initial or amended, of individual examiners’ reports on the thesis, may be made available to students.
  5. Students are encouraged to discuss their thesis reports with individual examiners if they wish to obtain further feedback on their work.


All appeals on Honours results should be directed to the Honours Coordinator. The grounds for appeal are limited. The Honours Coordinator, in consultation with the Chair of Department, will determine whether an appeal will be accepted or rejected, and if accepted, the procedure to be followed. Further information on appeal of academic decisions can be found at http://sydney.edu.au/arts/current_students/appeal_academic_decision.shtml


Honours Seminar A (ANTH4011):

THURSDAY 12 - 2 pm, RC Mills Seminar Room 148

Honours Seminar B (ANTH4012):

TUESDAY 11 am - 1 pm, RC Mills Seminar Room 148 and Tutorial Room 205
The first session in Week 1 is in RC Mills Seminar Room 148.

Thesis writing workshop

MONDAY 2 - 4 pm from Week 2, RC Mills Tutorial Room 205