Future Honours Students

Information for prospective Honours and Graduate Diploma students

We in the Biological Sciences are proud of the exciting projects and rich program we offer our Honours students. The Honours program in the Biological Sciences gives you the chance to do real research under the guidance of some of the most highly respected scientists in Australia. It provides technical training in research techniques and instrumentation as well as invaluable skills in communication, project management and critical analysis. Honours graduates are keenly sought after by a variety of employers.

An Honours year is one of the most rewarding and challenging of one’s life, and we are here to help. This website will provide the basic information about Honours in Biology, and everything you’ll need to get started enrolling. We welcome you to check out the research areas in our School, where you can browse through the diverse range of potential supervisors and projects that await you.

Visit the student profiles page to meet some of our previous Honours students and read about their experience and life after Honours in the Biological Sciences.

Want to know more about what Honours students do? Check out one of our student's blogs.

Why do Honours?

Today's job market for scientific positions is very competitive. In fact, many entry level positions now require an honours degree. If you have an honours degree it indicates that you probably have the following characteristics:

  • Ability to conduct a through review on a subject matter completely new to you.
  • Highly motivated and a self starter.
  • Able to complete tasks in a timely manner.
  • An understanding of how scientific research is carried out.

Ultimately, all of these characteristics combine to suggest that you are most likely a reliable worker, who may be allowed to work independently on complex tasks, which is really where most fun in working is and what employers are looking for. Honours is a challenging year, but all students look back on it as a very rewarding period in their life.

Why do Honours in the Biological Sciences?

Our honours year differs fundamentally from other Biology departments in Sydney in that the main component is research. This means that an honours year in our school is the perfect way to find out whether you have the aptitude and ability for research in the biological sciences. You will design and conduct an original research project in consultation with one or more of our academic staff members. We strongly encourage our honours students to publish their work in national and international peer reviewed journals. And indeed many of them do. Having one or more publications will greatly increase your chances of obtaining an APA or UPA.

The Biological Sciences awards a number of prizes to our honours students. Such a prize will be an important addition to your CV.

What's involved in Honours?

  • Train students to carry out independent research.
  • Enable students to develop a specialist understanding of one area of biology.
  • Integrate specialist knowledge into a broad appreciation of biology.
  • Enable students to research biology using skills in research methodology and philosopy.
  • Continue to engender and encourage enthusiasm and curiosity in biology.

Biology Honours is run as a one year full-time course and is a very intensive 2 semester (9 month) program that includes coursework and research. The Biological Sciences accepts students in both semesters. Many projects that have a large field component start in July so that field work may be conducted over the summer. The coursework component is the smallest component, comprising only 20% of the final mark.

A majority of your final mark, 80%, comes from your thesis. Your thesis is comprised of original research which through the guidance of your supervisor you have developed, carried out, and written up. Your thesis will be assessed by three academics, usually within the Biological Sciences.

Assessment Component Weight of total honours mark
1. Research & Development Proposal CWU 7.5%
2. Experimental Design Assessment CWU 5%
3. Opinion Article Research 7.5%
4. Thesis Research 80%

When does Honours begin?

Students can begin Honours in either semester, but you need to be aware that Honours starts before the regular semester start. You will be advised of the starting dates approximately 3 weeks prior to starting. As a general rule semester 1 will normally start in week 4 of January and semester 2 will start in week 3 or 4 of July. Attendance is mandatory as there are compulsory workshops on several days for the first several weeks.

How do I qualify for Honours?

The Faculty of Science requires that to enrol in an Honours unit of study you must have satisfied all the requirements for a pass degree and be considered by the Head of School to have the required aptitude and knowledge for Honours. In the Biological Sciences, the Head's decision is based on advice given by the Honours Executive Committee. A prospective student should have:

  • a major in one of the Life Sciences (not necessarily Biology);
  • an average grade of at least a Credit in 12 or more credit points of Senior Life Sciences subjects;
  • a minimum WAM (weighted average mark) of 65 for all Intermediate and Senior units of study attempted; and
  • you must have a provisional acceptance of project supervision by at least one academic (School enrolment form).

How do I qualify for Graduate Diploma?

The Graduate Diploma in Science is offered as a full-time course with the same content, structure and assessment as Biology Honours. In addition, the Graduate Diploma is offered as a two-year part-time course. The Graduate Diploma attracts fees. More information is available on the Graduate Diploma in Science page.

Entry into the Graduate Diploma program in the Biological Sciences will require academic qualification similar to those for entry into Honours, with the exception that students may have a WAM below 65 (64-60). The research element can then commence with the agreement of the supervisor and the Executive Committee.

Part-time students will be expected to present their "final seminar" and submit their thesis for examination by the same deadlines as the full-time students in the 2nd year of study. Students successfully completing the Graduate Diploma in Science are eligible for consideration in the MSc. and PhD. programs. The permission of the Head of School is required, however, for entry.

How do I apply?

Please visit our Honours application page for information on how to apply.