Honours

Honours in the Bachelor of Laws is an integrated research program and is intended to provide students with research training opportunities and reward and recognise outstanding academic achievement.

In order to undertake honours, you are not required to complete an additional year of study. Instead, you must enrol in a 12 credit point research unit in lieu of two electives in your penultimate or final semester and submit a dissertation.

2015 honours applications are now open

Code of Practice for Supervision of Honours Theses

Eligibility

You apply to undertake honours in your penultimate year. Admission will require the completion of at least sixteen compulsory units (including Legal Research I and II), plus a minimum Weighted Average Mark (WAM) of 75 in all compulsory law units of study completed at the time of application, with the exception of Foundations of Law. Results in elective units or any law units undertaken at another institution will not be included in your WAM. All law units will be weighted equally.

Places in the Honours program will be limited by available resources and entry will be competitive. Approximately the top 20 per cent of the student cohort will be eligible for admission and the exact WAM cut-off will be determined on an annual basis by the Honours Committee. A higher WAM than 75 is likely to be necessary for entry in any given year. Please note that achieving the requisite WAM will not guarantee a place in the honours program and it is your responsibility to develop an acceptable proposal.

Workload and Assessment

As an honours student, you will be required to complete a dissertation of 12,000 words. This word limit includes all footnotes. You will enrol in a 12 credit point honours unit and this will be taken as part of the 42 credit points of electives that you are required to undertake for the Sydney LLB.

You will complete this dissertation over the course of one semester of your final year. Subject to the availability of supervision, you will be able to elect the semester in which you undertake the honours unit.

You will also be required to attend a non-assessed Research Workshop and a specified number of meetings with your supervisor. These meetings may be held on an individual basis or jointly with other students working in the same subject area.

Application for honours

You will not be allocated a topic for your thesis. Instead, you will be required to prepare a thesis proposal including a statement of the methodology to be used as well as a preliminary literature review.

It will be your responsibility to organise a supervisor. A list of available supervisors and areas of interest will be provided, but you will need to develop a suitable topic and contact an appropriate academic staff member to arrange for supervision. Honours supervisors can only be academic staff members of Sydney Law School and selected adjunct academics. Please be aware that supervisory capacity is limited. It is therefore in your best interests to prepare the proposal and contact prospective supervisors well in advance of the application due date.

Once a proposal has been approved and signed by the prospective supervisor, you will need to submit an honours application to the Law School for evaluation.

You will not be notified of your application outcome until final marks have been processed and the requisite WAM for entry into that year’s program has been determined by the Honours Committee. It is anticipated that you will be notified in January of your final year. If you’re completing mid-year, you will be required to follow the same timeline and therefore may be restricted in which semester to undertake honours.

Award of honours

To qualify for the award of the Honours degree, you will need to successfully complete 144 credit points, including:
a) 96 credit points of compulsory units of study; and
b) 48 credit points of elective units of study including;
i). a maximum of 30 credit points taken from Part 1;
ii). a minimum of 6 credit points taken from Part 2; and
iii). 12 credit points of Honours units.

If you commenced the Sydney combined LLB from 2011, you are required to undertake Private International Law A and therefore will need to successfully complete 144 credit points comprised of:
a) 102 credit points of compulsory units; and
b) 42 credit points of electives including:
i). a maximum of 24 credit points taken from Part 1;
ii). a minimum of 6 credit points taken from Part 2; and
iii). 12 credit points of Honours units.

The grade of Honours will be determined by your Honours WAM (HWAM).The HWAM will be calculated from a minimum of 90 credit points and a maximum of 136 credit points of law units of study, including all compulsory and elective units of study undertaken at Sydney Law School, with the exception of Foundations of Law. The Honours units will carry a weighting of two while all other units carry a weighting of one. The HWAM is calculated to one decimal place.

Award of the degree

The Bachelor of Laws (LLB) will be awarded in the grades of either Pass or Honours. The Honours degree is awarded in either First Class or Second Class, as specified below:

Description HWAM
Honours Class I HWAM ≥80
Honours Class II (Division 1) 75≥ HWAM <80
Honours not awarded HWAM< 75

If you are in the Honours program and do not meet the requirements of the award of Honours but in all other respects have satisfied the requirements for the degree, you will be awarded the pass degree.

All Pass and Honours students will be ranked together for graduation purposes to achieve a final graduation ranking.

University medal

If you qualify for the award of First Class Honours and your work is of outstanding merit in the opinion of the Faculty, you may be considered for the award of a University medal.

Frequently asked questions

I transferred to Sydney from another law school and received credit. Will this affect my eligibility for honours?
As long as a minimum of 90 credit points is undertaken at the University of Sydney, you may be eligible to apply to undertake honours. In assessing your application for honours, only the compulsory units undertaken at Sydney Law School will be used in the WAM calculation.

Can I do honours and still go on exchange or undertake the Oxford BCL?
As honours is to be completed over one semester, it is possible to spend your final semester overseas. However, you should be aware that during your final semester in Sydney, not only will you be required to complete 12 credit points of honours, you will also need to undertake Private International Law A and your Jurisprudence requirement. You should also be aware that units undertaken as part of an exchange program or the Oxford BCL will not be taken into account in calculating the HWAM.