Thesis, project & honours, practical experience, WAMs, career

For Pre-enrolment: Initially everyone enrols in Project for both semesters (CIVL4024 & 4025). Those on the honours path will be identified within the first week of Semester 1 and transferred to thesis (CIVL4022 & 4023).

We usually hold an information session each year in October for students about to enter 4th year to help you understand project, honours, work experience and electives.


The University awards honours at graduation to students who achieved a high level of academic performance throughout their degree, including a significant research component of the research thesis.

The level of award of Honours is based on the Honours Weighted Average Mark (HWAM).

Completing the honours research thesis CIVL4022 & 4023 is an essential component of obtaining honours. You will not gain honours if you are not enrolled in thesis, no matter how good your marks or report are.

Entry to Honours

Students are invited to do Honours in the first week of their final full year based on their HWAM at that time being over 65. Here "final full year" means the calendar year in which the student is enrolled in project/thesis.

Research Thesis or Project

Honours Thesis or Engineering Project is a core requirement for all students. It is generally taken in the last full-year of study.

The prerequisite is successful completion of 30 credit points of 3rd or 4th year units of study.

  • There is no significant difference between the two subjects in terms of expectations or procedure, except that all Honours Thesis research topics have to contain a genuine research component, and these can be expected to be more intellectually challenging projects.
  • For pre-enrolment purposes you should enrol in the pass-level Engineering Project units of study (CIVL4024 and CIVL4025). Students with a current HWAM greater than 65 will be invited to enrol in CIVL4022 Honours Thesis A/CIVL4023 Honours Thesis B in the first week of first semester.
  • Students will work in groups of 2 for Honours Thesis and 2-3 for Engineering Project. It is possible to have students enrolled in the Pass and Honours thesis units working on the same topic, but special permission from the thesis coordinator is required.
  • Selection of thesis topics and groupings will occur in the first week of semester 1 each year.
  • Units are taken consecutively in Semesters 1 & 2.
  • In rare circumstances and with special permission, they can be enrolled in Semester 2 then Semester 1. With this arrangement supervision will generally not be available over the summer break, and only a limited choice of topics will be provided. Special permission is required from the thesis co-ordinator.
  • For students who anticipate finishing their degree in Semester 1 of a given year, it is strongly recommended that they take Thesis in the preceding year and complete outstanding core/elective units of study in the final semester.
  • Permission to complete the two units in a single semester will only be given in the case of exceptional and unforeseen reasons.

Choosing a thesis topic and thesis partners
You will receive a list of thesis topics and the respective supervisors and topic selection form before week 1 and you will apply by the start of week 1 for one of those topics. Most students find their own partner(s) and apply for one of the topics together. The thesis co-ordinator will help students who cannot find a partner.

Rules for partnering: Students enrolled in a stream must partner with someone in the same stream. Students not in a stream must enrol with other students not in a stream. Pass students must partner with pass students (in groups of 3) and honours students with honours students (in groups of 2). Any deviation from these rules needs approval from both the thesis topic supervisor and the thesis co-ordinator.

Rules for Choosing a topic: Students in a stream will be given preference in choosing topics within that stream. Students not enrolled in a stream should not expect to be given a thesis topic in their desired area. It is possible to pre-arrange a thesis topic (and group) with a supervisor prior to the commencement of the semester provided the topic and partnering rules are followed.

Can I choose my own topic? Yes, provided a Civil Supervisor has assessed and accepted it. Some students have had fascinating topics which they have worked out themselves due to specific research interests or opportunities. For example one team studied fog collection projects in Peru, another student researched mine shoring, a topic which came from his practical experience. In such cases you need to find a Civil supervisor who will agree to it, and this should be done well-before the semester commences.

Honours Thesis and Engineering Project Guidelines -2014


What is WAM?
A Weighted Average Mark (WAM) is the average mark in the units of study completed by a student, weighted according to the credit point value and academic level of the particular unit.

WAM = SUM(Mark*Credit Point*Weight)/SUM(Credit Point*Weight)

Weight is 1 for 1000 units; 2 for 2000 units; 3 for 3000 units; and 4 for 4000 and 5000 units.

IN ENGINEERING 1000 level units have a weight of zero.

All units where a result has been recorded, including Discontinued Fail, Absent Fail and PCON (but not W or DNF) are included in the calculation.

What is HWAM?
HWAM is your WAM for all units except 1000 level units, and the research project/thesis is counted double (ie the weight is 8 for CIVL4022/4023/4024/4025).

What are WAM and HWAM used for?
WAM may be used by the Faculty for the purposes of assessing students' annual level of achievement in an Advanced degree or determining eligibility for prizes and scholarships.
HWAM is used to determine eligibility for entry into Honours and the level of honours awarded.

What is my GPA, GWAM and ISWAM?
GPA refers to grade point average and is used by some other institutions in a similar way to the way the Faculty of Engineering uses the WAM and HWAM. The Faculty of Engineering does not use GPA and will not be able to provide you with a GPA. If you are asked for a GPA you must contact the institution that you are applying to for more information about their formula and apply it to your own grades.

GWAM is no longer relevant. ISWAM is the WAM applied only to 2000 and 3000 level units but is no longer used.
See the Engineering Faculty Handbook for the formal resolutions.

Practical Experience

Many students find the practical experience unit to be the most valuable unit in their degree; it throws light on many of the professional skills they have been studying.

All advice regarding ENGG4000 Practical Experience is now located at the link below. This includes:

  • Basic information
  • Step-by-step “how to”
  • Tips for getting a position
  • FAQ
  • Approval process, and
  • A sample covering letter.

Practical Experience Rough Guide

If the company is asking for information about the program please provide this link (or print the document and hand it to them): Information for Companies

For more information on practical experience, visit

CIVL5330: Global Engineering Fieldwork

This is a unit of study by which the main component is the practical experience of being involved in on-site humanitarian engineering. The on-site duration will be between 2-4 weeks. The main requirement is that the student is directly involved with a community “in developmental need”, and the student should aim to “value-add” to the existing program. Experiences would include such things as:

  • Engineering design of the solution, in particular appropriate design for the circumstances, people and environment.
  • Management of people delivering the solution.
  • Community consultation.
  • Economic use of resources, and adapting design to make use of available resources.
  • Monitoring development projects (on-time delivery of milestones, contract management, etc).
  • Evaluation (survey of end-users, audit of processes, analysis of cost and resource usage).
  • Effectiveness, continuity and viability of the design and implementation.
  • Cost-benefit analysis.
  • Problem solving at all levels: practical, design and strategic.
    Attending high level planning meetings.
  • Creating interviews and opportunities with other agencies and institutions involved in the area of concern (for example government departments, UN) which would value-add to the aims of the organisation they are working with.
  • Design and execution of surveys.
  • Analysis and mitigation of risk.

Enrolment is by special permission and will involve submission of a plan or consultations with the director of Humanitarian Engineering in Civil Engineering. This unit will be first formally offered in 2017, however some programs will be available in 2016.
There will be a financial cost to the student to provide their transport, medical and personal expenses (including passport and visa application cost) while placed remotely or overseas in a fieldwork placement. In many cases the Faculty will be able to provide some financial assistance to students through the New Colombo Plan or otherwise.

CIVL5330: Global Engineering Fieldwork is generally a 4th year unit however 3rd year students may be permitted to enroll because of scheduling and other constraints. It will be first available in 2016 (see below).

What opportunities exist for the Fieldwork for 2016?
With the support from Engineers Without Borders (EWB) we are organising a Fieldwork to India at the end of 2016. This is a design summit which will examine circumstances of the local community and then design commensurate engineering solutions. There are more details on this below.

Are there additional costs involved and is there financial support?
Apart from enrolment fees, only CIVL5330: Global Engineering Fieldwork has additional costs, which will be incurred privately by the student for travel and personal expenses. However funding may be available to the student through New Colombo Plan (NCP) grants. The Faculty has secured funding from NCP in support of Fieldwork placements in India at the end of the year 2016 and other places for 2017. The amount of funding should cover many of the expenses of the students. Students who do not receive funding or incur additional expenses may apply for government assistance through a loan scheme called OS-Help.

Are there other options for the Fieldwork unit?
Fieldwork is not limited to overseas placements or to EWB. We are planning to allow other overseas, rural and even possibly urban placements when opportunities arise in the future. These will be dependent on whether partner programs can be developed with external agencies who are involved on the ground in these places.

Is the Major available for international students?
Yes, however it must be noted that Government support for the Fieldwork unit is limited to only Australian citizens who does not own a passport of the country where the Fieldwork is taking place nor have they held or have a permanent residency.

If I enroll for the Humanitarian Major, will I automatically get to go on a placement? No.

Is completing the placement a compulsory part of the major?
Yes. Students must complete the four listed units and the fieldwork is one of them. The experiences of the Fieldwork unit are considered essential to the integrity and value of the Major. However there are plans to develop alternative types of Fieldwork to suit student capacity, provided they meet the learning objectives of the Major.

Can I choose my placement location?
Yes, but choices are limited. Currently we have obtained funding for India at the end of 2016 and Samoa in 2017. Some other locations will become available in the following years.

How many placements will be available? Will there be more than one opportunity?
For 2016 there is only one placement available (in India), with 20 students to be allocated. There will be two in 2017 – India and Samoa.

Are there both local and international placement opportunities?
Local Fieldwork program is not yet available but it is intended for future years.

How long will placements be?
Placements will be between 2 and 4 weeks on location and will occur in Dec/Jan/Feb or July. There will be additional commitments before and after the trip.
The 2016 India fieldwork will take approximately two weeks, with pre-departure and post-arrival activities.

Enquiries should be directed to

Your Career

How will elective choice affect your career? For some it will have no effect whatsoever and for others it will determine what field of Civil Engineering they will enter. Different employers may place more or less emphasis on specific subjects studied or a specialisation stream.

Some students who prove themselves in the 12 week work placement will receive an employment offer from the company.

We recommend that you attend the engineering careers fair held at the beginning of each year, and make use of the University Careers Centre

Useful Websites