Honours in Sociology and Social Policy

Our department offers Honours in two fields: Sociology (available for students with majors in Sociology and/or Social Policy) and Socio-legal Studies. Honours graduates from our Department have gone on to further study – both in Australia and abroad or have used their Honours degree to secure exciting professional employment.

Honours Contacts

Dr Craig Brown
Click to email
Room 107 RC Mills Building
Telephone: +61 2 9351 2665

Socio-legal Studies:
Dr Greg Martin
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Room 156, RC Mills Building
Telephone: +612 9351 3319
Fax: +612 9036 9380

School of Social and Political Sciences
Click to email
Level 1, RC Mills, A26 (lower level)
Telephone: +612 9351 2650
Fax: +612 9036 9380


Honours in our department is a student-focused experience. After completing two supporting seminars in Semester One, each student works one-on-one with a supervisor to complete a thesis on a topic of the student's own choosing. Potential thesis topics cover the range of sociology, socio-legal and social policy topics, from the most personal micro-level research on the social networking experience to the broadest macro-level research on globalisation – and everything in between. Theses may be theoretical, qualitatively empirical, quantitatively empirical, or any combination of the three. We go to great lengths to encourage the ambitions of highly motivated students, but we also provide a high level of support to ensure that all students have a positive Honours experience.

Program Structure

Honours students in our Department take two 2-hour seminars in Semester One, each involving 6000-8000 words of writing or equivalent, then complete a thesis of 18000-20000 words in Semester Two. The specific content of the seminars changes each year, but in general they are focused on practical methodology, theory construction, and professional socialisation. Final marks for the Honours year are computed as 20% of each of the seminar marks (40% total) and 60% of the thesis mark. Theses are marked by at least two, and in some cases three, members of the academic staff in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, then reviewed by the Departmental Honours Examiners' Committee (consisting of all Honours markers for the year).

Entry requirements

Ideally, candidates for admission to Honours in Sociology and Socio-legal studies should have completed at least 48 senior credit points with a credit average or above in the intended subject area.
Students enrolling in Sociology Honours must have completed SCLG3602 Sociological Theory and Practice.
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

Students whose bachelor’s degree was undertaken at another university, or students who completed their Bachelor’s degrees at the University of Sydney more than two years ago, should contact one of the Department’s Honours Coordinators to discuss whether the classes they have taken are equivalent to these prerequisites. Highly motivated students who may not have completed all of the requirements are encouraged to contact one of the Departmental Honours Coordinator for more information about admission.

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. This will usually be determined in consultation with the relevant Honours Co-ordinator.

Applications for entry into Honours

The following is a list of documents/ information we would require for an Honours application:

  • Proof of citizenship/ residency (not necessary for Domestic internal student if we already have this information in our records)
  • Official transcript (if applicant is an external student)
  • Proof of contact with Coordinator (If student is applying for Honours in the area of Sociology, we would require evidence of contact with Supervisor instead)
  • Subject area (if Honours subject area has not been nominated in the application)


Honours students register for four seminars:

Sociology Honours:

  • SCLG4011 Sociology Honours A – Semester One
  • SCLG4012 Sociology Honours B – Semester One
  • SCLG4013 Sociology Honours C– Semester Two
  • SCLG4014 Sociology Honours D – Semester Two

Socio-legal Honours

  • SLSS4011 Socio-Legal Studies Honours A – Semester One
  • SLSS4012 Socio-Legal Studies Honours B – Semester One
  • SLSS4013 Socio-Legal Studies Honours C – Semester Two
  • SLSS4014 Socio-Legal Studies Honours D – Semester Two

Honours C and Honours D do not have regular weekly meetings, but instead represent work on the thesis. Students are expected to meet regularly with their supervisors and monthly with the Honours Coordinator.


The heart of the Honours degree is the completion of a research-based thesis of 18000-20000 words. Students design and execute their theses in cooperation with a supervisor assigned by the Department. Students are encouraged to contact potential supervisors in advance, and are invited to request specific supervisors (though it is not always possible to meet such requests). Recent thesis titles include:

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution, Indigenous Justice and the “Care Circle” Pilot
  • Developing a Generational Model of Youth Engagement in Politics
  • Feminism, Sexual Identity and “Raunch” Culture
  • The Politics of Queer Manhood
  • Sorting Out Autism Spectrum Disorders: Evidence-Based Medicine and the Complexities of the Clinical Encounter

A wide variety of research methods can be used in thesis research. In recent years, students have written theses based in data from interviews, archives, media, surveys, and censuses. Theoretical theses are also possible. The Department of Sociology and Social Policy is broadly open-minded about the kinds of theory, data, and methods that can be used in Honours research.

Thesis Supervision

Students can work under the supervision of any member of the academic staff in Department of Sociology and Social Policy, including postdoctoral fellows. Names, research interests, and contact information for these people can be found on the relevant staff pages of the Departmental website
Click here to link to Academic Staff

Upon acceptance to Honours study, students are asked for brief summaries of their research interests, which are circulated to all potential supervisors. Students are asked to nominate potential supervisors (if desired) and, where possible, students are matched with their preferred supervisors. Students are never forced to work with specific supervisors; all supervisors are assigned in consultation with both students and their potential supervisors.

Assessment Criteria and Procedures

Seminar scores are marked by the respective seminar convenors, while the thesis is marked by 2-3 members of the academic staff (with the advice of the full Honours Examiners' Committee) as described above. Work is marked according to Faculty-wide Honours marking standards.
Attendance is expected at all Honours seminars and workshops, and all Honours work is expected to be submitted on time. There is no explicit penalty for non-attendance or late work. Such cases are rare, and are dealt with on a one-by-one basis by the Honours Coordinator and the Departmental Honours Examiners' Committee.

Important Dates

The Honours year commences with the beginning of Semester One. Completed theses are due early in October. Specific dates are announced early in the Honours year Enrolment.

Honours has different kinds of unit of study codes from junior and senior units. Honours students enrol in four "shell" units – Honours A, B, C, and D – two for each semester of full-time study. Your overall Honours mark will be recorded as the result for the "Honours D" unit. These shell units do not correspond directly to the Honours seminars or thesis: they are simply the student records system's way of registering that you are enrolled in Honours. This means that when you choose your specific Honours seminars, the only people involved are you, the department Honours Coordinator, and the seminar’s teacher. In Sociology and Social Policy, all students take the same seminars, so no choice is required on the part of the student.

The Department of Sociology and Social Policy only offers its Honours seminars in Semester One, so part-time study and study beginning in Semester Two are not generally possible.