Honours in the Department of History
- Dr John Gagné (2014-16)
- NB: Students wishing to enrol in the History Honours programme for 2016 should direct their inquiries to Dr John Gagné.
The coordinator approves students’ entry into the program, maintains student records, liaises with supervisors and the staff teaching seminars, and chairs the committee that oversees the marking of theses. Students having any difficulties with the program at any time should see the coordinator.
What is History Honours?
The honours year gives students a taste of history as a vocation. In seminar work, students grapple with problems in the theory and practice of history; the thesis gives them the experience of formulating a significant historical problem and writing a substantial piece of original research.
Students who take honours at the University of Sydney study in one of Australia’s leading history departments. They work closely with dedicated teachers and active researchers whose interests span a wide variety of fields and methodological approaches.
The department is proud of its honours program, graduates of which have gone on to a rich variety of rewarding careers. For some people, the honours year is a critical step on the path to further study; some of your teachers will be University of Sydney honours graduates. For others, the fourth year is the culmination of their formal education, an experience that helps them refine their skills in research, analysis and writing; extend their intellectual range; and develop the body of personal and professional skills needed to see a major project though to completion.
What Prerequisites Do I Need?
Please note: The Department of History only accepts applications for the Honours program from students intending to begin studying Honours in the first semester of the academic year. Mid-year entry to the program is not permitted.
To be eligible to undertake Fourth Year Honours you must have completed a minimum of 48 senior credit points of History (i.e. 8 senior units of study), including HSTY2691 or one of the HSTY3000 units, and have an average grade of credit or above in those 8 units of study. Up to 18 credit points (i.e. 3 units) may be cross-listed units.
Important note: Meeting the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee you entry into the Honours programme. Honours places can only be granted where there is supervisory capacity.
From 2015 onwards, applicants will need an average of 70 or above.
If you do not have all the prerequisites but are close, please contact the honours coordinator to discuss your options.
How Do I Apply?
All students wishing to apply for Honours must to apply via the Courses online website. Instructions can be found here.
If you are interested in applying, you should discuss your application with the departmental Honours coordinator who must approve your program before you submit your application.
In the first semester of enrolment, students simply enrol in two 'shell' units, HSTY4011 and HSTY4012 (History Honours A and History Honours B). These codes bear no relation to the actual seminars taken. The Faculty only needs to know that you are doing two 12-credit point units of history honours, which seminars you take is between you and the History Department. (This is why the seminars have no unit codes.) In the second semester, you enrol in another two 'shell' units, HSTY4013 and HSTY4014 (History Honours C and History Honours D), which represent the thesis.
Registration with the Department of History
Students must also apply directly to the Department of History. Each student’s program of seminars and thesis topic must be approved by the honours coordinator. The completed registration form should be emailed as an attachment to the honours coordinator (by Friday 6 November 2015). It is possible to change your seminar choices before March next year (demand on seminars permitting). Applications for seminar places and supervision made after this date will be processed in the order in which they are received. The later you apply the more difficult it will be for us to give you your preferred choice of seminar and supervisor.
Download Registration Form
Honours Fellowship Opportunities
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences awards up to 9 Honours Research Fellowships to outstanding candidates to support their Honours study with an esteemed USYD mentor in specific areas of study. Find out more about the opportunities available here.
The fourth-year honours program in history consists of two seminars, which students take in the first semester, and a thesis of 15000-20,000 words, which in 2014 is due early in October (date to be confirmed).
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 is worth 60% of the final mark, and each seminar is worth 20%.
- Examples of Honours theses
This link takes you to the Sydney eScholarship Repository, where electronic copies of History honours theses will be available, beginning with those completed in 2006
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences administers an Honours Ethics Committee that processes all Disciplinary Honours-level ethics applications on behalf of the University Ethics Office.
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): questionnaires; surveys or interviews (including oral history); telephone interviewing; recording by audio- or video-tape; observations of behaviour (including ethnographic fieldwork).
Please 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.
For further information and application procedures please see the Faculty's Ethics requirements.
There is a single supervisor for a fourth-year student in the preparation of his or her Honours thesis, although students are encouraged to draw on the experience and expertise of other members of the department as appropriate.
In exceptional circumstances, however, the Chair or the Honours Coordinator may authorize co-supervision. These cases would include, in particular, circumstances in which all of the specialists in a particular area of study are unavailable for part of the year. In such a situation, two members of staff would supervise a thesis, one in each semester. This arrangement must be agreeable to the student and the department. All students seeking co-supervision must complete a co-supervision application form.
Academic Staff Research Fields and Availability
Not available in 2016 Semester 1: Robert Aldrich, Andrew Fitzmaurice, Mike McDonnell
Not available in 2015 Semester 2: David Brophy, Kirsten McKenzie, Penny Russell, Shane White (TBC)
- Dr Thomas Adams
(Department of History and United States Studies Centre)
Political Economy, Labor, Urban Culture, Gender and Sexuality, African-American, U.S. South, U.S. West, Social Movements and Contentious Politics
- Professor Robert Aldrich
Modern European and colonial history, especially France; gay history
- Professor Warwick H. Anderson
History of science; medicine; racial thought; Pacific world
- Dr David Brophy
History of Qing and Republican China, post-Mongol Eurasia; colonialism and national movements; Islam
- Professor Barbara Caine
Nineteenth and twentieth-century cultural history, emphases on Europe and Australia; women's history; biography and history; life-story writing
- Dr Frances Clarke
Nineteenth century United States history; women's and gender history; memorialization of warfare
- Associate Professor Ivan Crozier
History of psychiatry; History of the body; History of sexuality
- Associate Professor James Curran
Australian political, cultural, intellectual and diplomatic history
- Dr Marco Duranti
History of Modern Europe, particularly Western Europe in the twentieth century; Transnational history; History of human rights; humanitarianism; development and genocide; History and memory
- Dr Nicholas Eckstein
Early Modern European history, late medieval and renaissance Italy, popular religion, urban history
- Associate Professor Andrew Fitzmaurice
Early Modern European history, intellectual history, colonization and expansion
- Dr John Gagné
Early modern Europe, print news, collecting, and war, local-global connections in premodernity, gender, consumerism, consumption, and food
- Professor Stephen Garton
Australian history, history of psychiatry and mental illness, eugenics, crime and punishment
- Sebastián Gil-Riaño
Transnational history of science; History of race and ethnicity; History of the human sciences; Science and Technology Studies; Latin American History; French history; Biopolitics
- Associate Professor Chris Hilliard
Modern British cultural and intellectual history, New Zealand history
- Peter Hobbins
Animals as historical actors; History of Australasian science and medicine; Intersections between quarantine and defence; Integration of archaeology and history; Digital humanities and cliodynamics.
- Dr Julia Horne
Nineteenth and twentieth century history with emphases on Australia, history of university life, students, travel and landscape
- Dr Miranda Johnson
Comparative indigenous history; settler colonial history; Australian and New Zealand history; postcolonial theory and race; legal history
- Chin Jou
Twentieth-century US history; history of food and history of medicine
- Associate Professor Judith Keene
Twentieth century European History, film and history
- Sophie Loy-Wilson
Twentieth century Australian History (social and cultural), global and transnational history, colonial histories of East Asia (especially treaty port history), histories of migration, race relations history
- Dr Cindy McCreery
Modern European History, British and Irish History, maritime history, visual representations
- Associate Professor Michael McDonnell
History of the Atlantic World, Colonial and Revolutionary United States history, Native Americans
- Associate Professor Mark McKenna
Australian history, particularly political and cultural history and Aboriginal history
- Associate Professor Kirsten McKenzie
Australian history, colonialism, gender history, comparative colonial history
- Associate Professor Dirk Moses
Modern European history, German history, the Holocaust, comparative genocide
- Dr Tamson Pietsch
British and imperial history in the 19th & 20th centuries, global and transnational history, history of universities, history of the sea
- Andres Rodriguez
Modern Chinese History, Republican China, Southwest China borderlands, internationalism, wartime China, history of anthropology
- Professor Penny Russell
Australian history, women's history, gender history, colonialism and biography and autobiography
- Professor Glenda Sluga
Modern European History, nationalism and gender history; international history
- Dr Julie Ann Smith
Medieval history, religious history and women's history
- Hélène Sirantoine
Medieval history, political and cultural history of Christian Spain, history of powers and their supportive ideologies, written practices of power
- Professor Shane White
United States history; African American history; the history of New York City
- Dr Christine Winter
German Mixed-Race Diasporas in Southern Hemisphere Mandated Territories: Scientific theories, politics and identity transformation; 19th and 20th Century transnational European and Pacific History; German Diaspora Studies; National Socialism; Colonialism and its legacies; Scientific theories and politics of 'race'.
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 ‘R’ mark (indicating satisfactory performance) on their academic record. Their final, overall honours mark will be for the Honours D course code.
The marking scale for honours is as follows:
Above 90%: Eligible for medal
80%-100%: First Class
75%-79%: Second Class, Division One
70%-74%: Second Class, Division Two
65%-69%: Third Class
64% and below: Honours not awarded
As you can see, honours coursework and theses are marked on a different scale from undergraduate work. Eighty percent, the threshold for first-class honours, is equivalent to a High Distinction at undergraduate level. A mark of 79 in fourth-year thus indicates a higher achievement than a 79 in a third-year course.
The following criteria may help to explain the marking scale:
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.
Honours not awarded.
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. Extensions will be granted only for serious illness or misadventure. For theses, the bar for an extension is much higher than it is for undergraduate assessments. 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 should be handed in at the SOPHI office and may not be marked if submitted without an extension. A record will be kept of work which is late without extension and presented to the final history honours meeting, which will take notice of this in its final assessment and ranking of students.
The University of Sydney offers scholarships for Honours. These are awarded on the basis of academic merit and personal attributes such as leadership and creativity.
Students currently enrolled at the University of Sydney or other universities intending to undertake an additional Honours year at the University of Sydney are eligible to apply.
Application forms can be obtained from the Scholarships Unit, Mackie Building K01, University of Sydney NSW 2006.