General information

Why chemistry?


How to apply

How to enrol

Formal requirements


Employment & demonstrating

Relationship between honours and previous research

Occupational health & safety

Contact details


Dr Mark Hackett

why chemistry?

Why should you enrol in Honours in the School of Chemistry?

You will join a group of approximately 40 Honours students in Chemistry and work alongside 120 postgraduates currently enrolled in MSc and PhD research programs.

You will have access to a diverse range of research projects offered by 34 members of staff covering all areas of contemporary chemistry including :

  • Computational and Theoretical Chemistry

  • Chemical Education

  • Molecular Design and Synthesis

  • Materials Chemistry

  • Green Chemistry and Renewable Energy

  • Molecular Spectroscopy and Photonics

  • Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry

  • Supramolecular Chemistry

  • Biological Chemistry/Chemical Biology

  • Soft Matter

  • Neutron and Synchrotron Diffraction and Spectroscopy

You will have access to state-of the art instrumentation and work in newly renovated laboratories and offices throughout the School of Chemistry.

You will have the opportunity to work on research for 90% of the year.

Scholarships are available for students from outside the Sydney area to assist with relocation expenses.

Back to top


To be eligible for entry into the School of Chemistry Honours program, students must have qualified for the award of a relevant pass degree and be considered by the School and their Faculty to have the requisite knowledge and aptitude for an Honours course.

Graduates from the University of Sydney

Graduates from the University of Sydney require a SCIWAM (Science Weighted Average Mark) of 65+ or an average of 65 (or greater) in at least 48 credit points of relevant intermediate or senior science units of study. In addition, applicants must have previously completed at least 12 credit points of senior chemistry and a related major.

Graduates from other Australian universities

Graduates from other Australian Universities require, as a minimum, a SCIWAM of 65+. The Faculty of Science automatically calculates each applicant's SCIWAM when the application for honours is received. In addition, applicants must have completed substantial senior chemistry (equivalent to a University of Sydney "major") at the university in which they completed their pass degree.

International students

International applicants require an equivalent level of performance in their pass degree to that required from domestic applicants, and must have completed substantial senior chemistry (equivalent to a University of Sydney "major") at the university in which they completed their pass degree. The University of Sydney International Office assesses each International applicant's academic qualifications and determines whether they satisfy the conditions for entry into the program.

Students who are unsure of their eligibility should e-mail a full CV to the honours coordinator, Dr Mat Todd, who will provide a preliminary assessment.

The Graduate Diploma in Science

Students who have satisfied the requirements for the BSc degree or equivalent but who are not eligible to enrol in the honours course may instead enrol in the Graduate Diploma in Science. This is a full fee paying course offered through the Faculty of Science and consists of equivalent work to that carried out by candidates enrolled in the honours course. Further information on this course can be obtained from the Faculty of Science.

Back to top


Ms Tammie Barlow, Student holding beaker


How to apply

There are two steps to applying for the School of Chemistry honours program. Both steps must be completed by the same deadline.

Step 1

ALL applicants (including those currently enrolled in the final year of a degree at this University) must apply to the University of Sydney.

The exact procedure varies depending on the citizenship of the applicant.

Local students (citizens or permanent residents of Australia and citizens of New Zealand) must apply through the Faculty of Science. More information on how to apply visit the Faculty of Science.

The only exceptions to this are students who have completed undergraduate degrees at the University of Sydney via faculties other than science (eg. students who have completed liberal studies, or combined degrees). Such students should consult their faculty regarding correct application procedures.

Applicants should note that the online Faculty application form does not need to be signed by a representative from the School of Chemistry. However, the Faculty process does require some evidence that you have made contact with the School.

International students who are currently enrolled at the University of Sydney must complete the same steps above as the local students but, in addition, must complete an "International Undergraduate Student Application" form and lodge it at the International Office, (Jane Foss Russell Building).

External International students must apply through the International Office.

Step 2

All applicants must apply directly to the School of Chemistry by submitting the School of Chemistry Honours Online Application Form.

The School of Chemistry Honours Online Application Form requires applicants to nominate preferences for supervision. When deciding on their preferences, applicants should not only refer to the information in this website, but make an effort to talk to a number of staff members about possible honours projects. Each member of the chemistry staff has selected a number of projects. These projects are intended to be examples of current research work. Most members of staff have other interesting projects available and in many cases it is possible to design a project which caters for a student's particular interests. We encourage intending honours applicants to contact potential supervisors in October. Intending applicants should phone or email the staff members in whom they're interested to arrange an appointment to discuss possible projects.

For those students thinking of continuing, after Honours, with a higher degree such as an MSc or a PhD you should keep in mind that there is a limit on the number of higher degree students that a staff member can supervise based on the level of experience of the current students in a group and what other support is available. This limit is to ensure that there is sufficient supervision for all Chemistry graduate students.

While students are strongly encouraged to undertake an Honours year in the project that they find most engaging, we mention this limit at this point just in case it is of interest for individuals. If this is the case, we encourage you to discuss this issue with the staff members with whom you are considering doing Honours or with the Honours Coordinator.

While every effort will be made to accommodate your first preference of supervisor, please note that allocation of honours and postgraduate students to individual research groups depends on space, resources and supervisor availability. Hence it is essential that you include FOUR preferences on your application form. In mid-December, you will be informed of the outcome of your application and, if successful, will be notified of your supervisor's name and contact details.

Faculty of Science application process guide

For the application for Honours to Faculty you will be asked to provide proof of contact with a relevant academic (email is acceptable) in Chemistry. This can be your proposed supervisor, or can be the email you receive once you have completed the School of Chemistry's own online application process. If you are undertaking joint or double Honours, proof of contact will be required for both Honours areas. Please view the Faculty of Science "Honours Application Process" which is separate from the School of Chemistry's online application process as outlined in steps 1 and 2 above.


Back to top


Male student conducting experiment in a laboratoryFemale student conducting experiment in a laboratory

How to enrol

Detailed information on how and when to enrol will be provided to successful applicants.
When completing enrolment forms, successful applicants should list the following course codes:

February Admission:
CHEM4011 Chemistry Honours A Semester 1 2014
CHEM4012 Chemistry Honours B Semester 1 2014
CHEM4013 Chemistry Honours C Semester 2 2014
CHEM4014 Chemistry Honours D Semester 2 2014
July Admission:
CHEM4011 Chemistry Honours A Semester 2 2014
CHEM4012 Chemistry Honours B Semester 2 2014
CHEM4013 Chemistry Honours C Semester 1 2015
CHEM4014 Chemistry Honours D Semester 2 2015
The Honours Year

Commencement and completion dates

Semester 1: February 2014 Thesis Submission: November 2014 (date to be advised)
Semester 2: 28 July 2014 Thesis Submission: June 2015 (date to be advised)

Students who intend to commence honours in Semester 2: 2014 should note that there will be a compulsory 4 week suspension of research work from mid-December 2014 to mid-January 2015.

An Orientation Session for students commencing honours in Semester 1 will be held in early February. Attendance at this session is compulsory. The orientation session will include instruction on laboratory safety, including the use of materials safety data sheets and procedures required to undertake research in the school. Requirements relating to the use of computing facilities within the school, e-mail accounts and keys will also be covered. 

Back to top

Formal Requirements

Honours and graduate diploma students in chemistry must do the following:

  1. Undertake a major research exercise under the supervision of a member of staff.
  2. Write a thesis based on the research.
  3. Present a seminar at the end of their honours year on the research work carried out.
  4. Undertake a component of coursework involving attendance at lectures or seminars.
  5. Attend weekly research seminars, lectures and meetings of the University of Sydney Chemical Society.

More detailed information will be provided prior to the commencement of the course.

Back to top


Assortment of glassware


The honours program is research-based, and thus the major component (90%) of the honours mark is based on the research carried out during the year. This is assessed by the thesis and the research seminar, with each student's supervisor assessing overall research performance across the whole of the program. The minor assessment component (10%) is coursework, which may be examined by a written report, exam, oral presentation or assignment.

Back to top

Employment and demonstrating

Chemistry honours students may be offered employment as casual demonstrators in 1st year chemistry laboratory classes. The duties and responsibilities relating to laboratory teaching and supervision will be explained in late February. Demonstrators will be given further training and further information after the commencement of the honours program.

Students should note that it is school policy that no honours student be given paid employment, other than laboratory demonstrating, within the school during the academic year. The school views enrolment in the honours year as a full-time commitment with laboratory demonstrating constituting part of that program for all students.

It is also school policy that potential honours students are not given paid employment by their prospective supervisor(s) during the preceding summer vacation. Students should consider very carefully any such offers of employment in light of this policy, which may subsequently
limit their choice of supervisor and research program.

Back to top


Level 4 teaching laboratory

relationship between honours and previous research

The School of Chemistry acknowledges that incoming Honours students will have a wide range of previous research experience. The School attempts to ensure parity in the assessment of students and so has established the following guidelines concerning the relationship between a student’s proposed Honours project and any previous research experience.

TSP students

Students may not normally carry out an Honours project that is an extension of a TSP project conducted in the semester prior to commencement of Honours. A student may work with a given supervisor in the semester prior to Honours, then progress to Honours in that group, provided the research projects are distinct. A project with supervisor X and a joint Honours project with supervisor X and Y would normally not be considered to be closely related (and hence would be allowed in final semester leading to Honours), but there must be transparency in the nature of the two projects and this will be assessed by the TSP and Honours Coordinators prior to commencement of Honours. Overlap between TSP projects and potential Honours projects need not be considered for the period before the semester prior to Honours. The exception to this is if a student has carried out more than one TSP project associated with the group in which they would like to do Honours; in such a case the TSP coordinator and Honours coordinator will assess whether the Honours project is suitably different from previous projects.

When approving Honours supervisors for a student, the Honours Coordinator will consult with the TSP coordinator to help identify any possible overlaps and to allow the Honours coordinator to contact the supervisor(s) concerned and obtain written assurance from the supervisor(s) that any relevant projects are distinct. If an Honours student ultimately cites any work in their thesis that has arisen from a TSP project conducted in the semester prior to Honours, the relevant TSP report would need to be made available to the student’s thesis examiners on request. Failure to disclose any prior, relevant TSP research is unethical. It is the responsibility of the student, rather than the supervisor, to adhere to these guidelines.

Students who have undertaken paid research work

Students may not carry out an Honours project with a research supervisor from whom they have received payment (e.g., as a research assistant) in the break leading up to the start of Honours.


Occupational health and safety

The University is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace, and requires all its activities to conform to relevant state and federal legislation. This commitment is detailed in the OH&S Policy published on the University's Occupational Health and Safety web site. The overarching legislation under which we operate is the Occupational Health and Safety Act (2000), and its enabling Regulation (2001).

This legislation places a legally binding onus on all of us to ensure that we provide a safe working environment for our colleagues and ourselves. This responsibility resides with every individual, and failure to comply with the duties outlined in the Act and Regulation is a criminal offence, and can incur a heavy fine.

How does this affect you as a student?
The University of Sydney has an obligation to ensure that everything asked of you in the teaching laboratories has been through a Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control (HIRAC) procedure before you come into the lab. This obligation now becomes yours. You are required to perform your own risk assessment of everything you propose to do in laboratories. This involves not only taking note of the hazards of all chemicals you will be using, but also considering the risks of the processes involved in your experimental work.

Hazard information on chemicals is available from Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and SDSs may provided to you as hard copies in your lab, or you can access them via the web and then go to ChemAlert.

Examples of processes you should consider involved are temperature, pressure, mixing incompatible chemicals, and specialist equipment (moving parts, electric shock). Included in this assessment should be the identification of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), how you will manage any spills, and methods of waste disposal.

Minimum laboratory wear in all School of Chemistry laboratories is:

  1. Covered footwear (ballet slippers are NOT adequate, and the top of the foot is to be fully enclosed), preferably with non-slip soles.
  2. A lab coat, buttoned up, not loose. Do not wear the lab coat outside the laboratory as you run the risk of contaminating others with chemical 'dirt' from your lab coat.
  3. Safety glasses that meet the Australian Standard minimum frame size.
    Long hair to be tied back.

In some areas there may be additional PPE requirements, or exemptions from the above list. Every laboratory is sign posted with a Safety Placard indicating the hazards located in that space, the PPE required to be put on before entering, and people to contact in the event of an incident occurring. Besides the paperwork involved, there is a legally binding obligation on you as an individual to ensure that you do not do anything that may endanger yourself, your work colleagues or fellow students, by skylarking in the laboratory or performing unauthorised experiments.

Failure to observe the Safety Regulations may lead to you being expelled from the laboratory. OH&S is an important aspect of your life as a professional scientist, and we are all obliged to take it extremely seriously. Think carefully about what you do, and how and where you do it, and create habits that will protect yourself and others for a life time. If you observe something, or someone doing something, you feel is dangerous or unsafe in your laboratory, report it immediately to a member of staff.

Back to top

We look forward to welcoming you to the program in 2014!


For any other information, please contact:

Associate Professor Meredith Jordan
Honours and Graduate Diploma Coordinator
School of Chemistry
The University of Sydney NSW 2006
Room 544
Phone: +61 2 9351 4420

Back to top