Welcome to the Honours Programme in the School of Chemistry. This document gives you a brief overview of the requirements of this year.
All Honours Students must :
- Carry out a research exercise under the supervision of a member of staff.
- Present a thesis on the research carried out.
- Present a seminar on the research carried out.
- Complete coursework as specified below.
- Attend on average one research seminar per week during semester, i.e. a total of 26 seminars throughout the year. The seminar programmes will be distributed at the start of semester and all lectures are advertised weekly in ChemEvents. Occasionally research lectures will be scheduled at a different time than those specified above and you will be advised by the appropriate seminar coordinator.
- Attend Sydney University Chemical Society Meetings (5.30 pm second Wednesday of the month).
All Graduate Diploma students must also carry out items 1 to 4 above but attendance at the research seminars and the Sydney Unviersity Chemical Society Meetings in items 5 and 6 is not compulsory but is strongly encouraged.
The final mark in the Honours Year in Chemistry is determined by the Honours Board of Examiners based on the weighted raw marks of the four components: Research (30%) : Coursework (10%) : Seminar (20%) : Thesis (40%). The final mark awarded by the Honours Board of Examiners determines the grade of Honours awarded. The raw marks in each component will be awarded in accordance with the Faculty Guidelines (see end of section).
The research mark is determined on the basis of the research work carried out during the year and includes assessment of overall performance including initiative, competence in experimental techniques, understanding of fundamentals, diligence, research aptitude and potential. Students are not assessed on the success of their project.
Your Honours supervisor will be asked to submit responses to several questions about your research work during the year, and these responses will be used as the basis for the mark awarded for your research work by the Honours Board of Examiners. The relevant questions may be seen in this form, which is an adapted version of the full Research Assessment form.
The thesis reports the research work carried out during the year and should be presented in a consistent style throughout that typically follows that of major international journals in the relevant discipline area (e.g. J. Org. Chem.; Inorg. Chem.; J. Phys. Chem.; Biochemistry; Langmuir). The level of raw data presented should be consistent with journal requirements (e.g. level of characterization of new compounds, tabulated original data, Figures). A page limit of 60 pages (A4, single-sided, 12 point, 1.5-2.0 line spacing) applies unless a justification is included (e.g. large numbers of original spectra required to justify discussion of results; Experimental characterization of compounds). Guidelines for the submission of supporting information will be forthcoming.
You must acknowledge all assistance from staff and others under the heading Acknowledgements and Statement of Contribution of the Student on a separate page of the thesis, immediately after the title page and before any general acknowledgements, explaining their role briefly but precisely. You may give a general statement thanking people in the Acknowledgements, but the Statement of Contribution of the Student must be more explicit. You must give details of contributors to the project. For example, were you part of a team who performed the experiment, did someone write parts of the computer code, take the observations, build some of the apparatus, or do some of the analytic work? If any of your Honours research built on results previously obtained in another research project (for example a TSP project) these results must be clearly highlighted. Here you must also acknowledge any assistance that was provided in thesis preparation. The reason for this Statement is to assist the assessment of the reports, which may be written in the third person like research publications. You are also required to provide on this page a signed and dated statement of originality of the form: “I certify that this report contains work carried out by myself except where otherwise acknowledged”.
A penalty of 5 marks applies for each day late of submission of the thesis (i.e. any time in the 24 h period following the deadline incurs a 5 mark penalty).
The Honours thesis is a report of the research work that a student has carried out during the year. The thesis should make it clear why the work was attempted, how it was carried out, what results were obtained, how the results are to be interpreted at the time when the thesis is written, and may conclude with an outline of further work that should be done on the project.
The minimum format for binding is press binding available from the level 3 service room. The exact style and layout of the thesis varies within the sub-disciplines of chemistry and follows journal styles. More information on these requirements will be distributed later in the year. You should discuss your thesis organisation and style with your supervisor.
The use of the university emblem is not permitted on theses that have not passed examination. Thus the initially-submitted copies of the thesis should not display the University emblem. If you pass Honours, you may then print copies with the emblem.
The recommended length of the thesis is no more than 60 pages (unless justification included). Please note that the use of font sizes significantly smaller than 12pt or close line spacing (less than 1.5) to attempt to meet the above restrictions will not be looked upon favourably. This limit does not include opening material (front page, table of contents, abbreviations, acknowledgements, statement of student contribution and abstract, in any order), references and appendices.
The Front Office printer is not available for thesis or assignment printing.
The University of Sydney is opposed to and will not tolerate plagiarism. It is the responsibility of all students to ensure that they do not commit or collude with another person to commit plagiarism, report possible instances of plagiarism, and comply with the University Policy and Procedure found here.
Submission for students who commenced in January 2013: 3.00pm, Monday 4 November 2013.
Submission for students who commenced in July 2013: 3.00pm, Tuesday 10 June 2014.
Theses should be submitted to Linda Kristian in the Front Office by the due date and time. Please note that there will be a mark penalty of 5 marks per day for theses submitted after these dates and times.
Three copies are required and these may be either soft or hard bound. In addition, an electronic copy of the thesis (*.pdf format) must be supplied to the supervisor and to Linda Kristian (email@example.com) by the deadline. The student’s name and the year should be shown on the cover in a non-detachable way. Copies of the thesis can be printed using the School laser printers.
Note: for those students who commenced in July 2013, no experimental work is to be undertaken during the period 17 December 2013 to 12 January 2014.
The School runs a unified coursework programme to address student needs and graduate attributes. This comprises the following:
Semester 1 - Scientific Literature (12 weeks)
The students are provided with training on using online scientific literature databases including Web of Science and SciFinder. They are trained in the accepted manner of scientific citation and in the use of bibliographic software. There is a short assessment to establish competency in searching scientific literature early in the semester. The students will then be instructed in the art of scientific communication in a series of interactive seminars where they build up to writing a fully referenced digest on a topic of chemical interest. The final reports are assessed by three staff members.
Semester 2 - Scientific Communication (12 weeks)
Students will be asked to select a scientific topic unrelated to their research. During the coursework sessions during semester there will be guidance on how to write and deliver presentations. At the end of the course students will deliver an 8-minute talk on the subject of their choosing using Powerpoint or other media. This will be a public talk, but will be assessed by three members of academic staff.
Seminar Date for students who commenced in July 2013: Tuesday 17 June 2014.
Seminar Dates for students who commenced in January 2013: Monday 11 November to Tuesday 12 November 2013.
A 30 minute seminar (20-25 min presentation + 5-10 min questions) describing the research carried out during the year is required. You are welcome to use the School Smart LT facilities (Powerpoint, web presentation etc) for your presentation, or slides and/or overheads. Please note that you are not given bonus marks (or penalised marks!) for the type of presentation you use, but on the message and chemistry that is delivered.
The grade of Honours awarded follows the Faculty Guidelines. These guidelines are followed in awarding the raw marks for each component. The final mark in the Honours Year in Chemistry is determined by the Honours Board of Examiners based on the weighted raw marks of the four components : Research : Coursework : Seminar : Thesis. The final weighting of the individual components are forthcoming. The final mark awarded by the Honours Board of Examiners determines the grade of Honours awarded.
The Faculty has adopted the following guidelines for assessment of student performance in honours:
Outstanding First Class quality of clear Medal standard, demonstrating independent thought throughout, a flair for the subject, comprehensive knowledge of the subject area and a level of achievement similar to that expected by first rate academic journals. This mark reflects an exceptional achievement with a high degree of initiative and self-reliance, considerable student input into the direction of the study, and critical evaluation of the established work in the area.
Very high standard of work similar to above but overall performance is borderline for award of a Medal. Lower level of performance in certain categories or areas of study above.
In order to qualify for the award of a University medal, it is necessary but not sufficient for a candidate to achieve a SCIWAM of 80 or greater and an Honours mark of 90 or greater. Faculty has agreed that more than one medal may be awarded in the subject of an Honours course. The relevant Senate Resolution reads: ‘A candidate with an outstanding performance in the subject of an Honours course shall, if deemed of sufficient merit by the Faculty, receive a bronze medal’. Recommendations to award a medal to a student who satisfies these requirements must be accompanied by a brief statement outlining the basis for the claim that the student’s performance is outstanding. This should include: (i) a written statement summarizing the evidence of outstanding performance during the Honours course (e.g. prizes, ranking of course and thesis marks) and of consistently meritorious performance throughout all undergraduate years; (ii) an academic transcript summarizing the student’s undergraduate performance; (iii) any other relevant information that would help inform the examining committee.
Students with an Honours mark of 90 or greater and a SCIWAM of 77 to 79 inclusive may be considered for the award of a university medal only if it can be demonstrated that their WAM was affected by sickness, misadventure, unusual workload or choice of units of study.
Clear First Class quality, showing a command of the field both broad and deep, with the presentation of some novel insights. Student will have shown a solid foundation of conceptual thought and a breadth of factual knowledge of the discipline, clear familiarity with and ability to use central methodology and experimental practices of the discipline, and clear evidence of some independence of thought in the subject area. Some student input into the direction of the study or development of techniques, and critical discussion of the outcomes.
Second class Honours, first division – student will have shown a command of the theory and practice of the discipline. They will have demonstrated their ability to conduct work at an independent level and complete tasks in a timely manner, and have an adequate understanding of the background factual basis of the subject. Student shows some initiative but is more reliant on other people for ideas and techniques and project is dependent on supervisor’s suggestions. Student is dedicated to work and capable of undertaking a higher degree.
Second class Honours, second division – student is proficient in the theory and practice of their discipline but has not developed complete independence of thought, practical mastery or clarity of presentation. Student shows adequate but limited understanding of the topic and has largely followed the direction of the supervisor.
Third class Honours – performance indicates that the student has successfully completed the work, but at a standard barely meeting Honours criteria. The student’s understanding of the topic is extremely limited and they have shown little or no independence of thought or performance.
The following procedure should be read in conjunction with Part 3 of the University of Sydney (Student Appeals against Academic Decisions) Rule 2006 (as amended 10 December 2010) Section 3.1.4., which is available here:
In brief, a student who has received their final Honours assessment may request a numerical mark for each of the Honours assessment components (raw and final marks and their Research Assessment) as outlined in section 15(7) of the University’s Assessment Procedure 2011 (http://sydney.edu.au/policies/showdoc.aspx?recnum=PDOC2012/267&RendNum=0).
This request must be made to the Honours Coordinator or the Associate Head of School (Teaching). A student has 15 working days (or such other extended time as the Dean may reasonably authorise) from receipt of their final grade to consult with the Honours Coordinator or Associate Head of School (Teaching) about their marks. The Honours Coordinator, and/or the Associate Head of School for Teaching and/or the Head of School may consult before a response is made to the student. The consultation may also involve others in the University should they possess experience relevant to the nature of the query.
Following receipt of feedback from the Honours Coordinator or Associate Head of School (Teaching), a student who wishes to contest their final mark or any of the component marks has 15 working days to submit an appeal to the Faculty of Science. The appeal must be submitted in person to the Faculty of Science Office (Level 2, Carslaw Building) via the Faculty of Science Appeals Officer, 9036 9382, firstname.lastname@example.org. The Faculty appeal form may be found here: http://sydney.edu.au/science/cstudent/ug/forms.shtml#appeals
This section constitutes general advice regarding special consideration for Honours in the School of Chemistry, but should be read alongside the Faculty implementation of the University’s policy (http://sydney.edu.au/science/cstudent/ug/forms.shtml#special_consideration).
Special consideration may be sought during your Honours/Graduate Diploma candidature if you encounter new difficulties in carrying out your studies. For example you may fall ill, or have to deal with family emergencies. Special consideration during your Honours/GD year is handled initially through the School of Chemistry rather than the Faculty of Science.
Since Honours is distinct from other undergraduate units, some differences between special considerations processes for Honours and other units may apply – relating for example to long-term difficulties or difficulties that impact your ability to study or perform research activities during a period of time far removed from any formal assessment.
The School holds a duty of care to both Honours students and their supervisors. It is important that you not be disadvantaged with respect to other students in your cohort. It is also important you maintain a dialogue with your supervisor so that they can adequately help you with any difficulties you encounter. If you are in any doubt about whether it is appropriate for you to submit an application for special consideration and you would prefer not to speak with your supervisor, you should approach the Honours Coordinator, Deputy Honours Coordinator or Associate Head of School (Teaching). For long-term difficulties it may be advisable in the first instance to speak with University Disability Services.
The process of submitting a special consideration procedure in Chemistry is as follows:
- If you feel there may be grounds for submitting a claim for special consideration, you should in the first instance discuss this with your supervisor.
- If you or your supervisor believes you have grounds for submission of a claim for special consideration, you should then discuss this further with the Honours Coordinator. While much of the dialogue surrounding your claim for special consideration should take place face-to-face, it is expected that key information or decisions surrounding your claim should be in writing, and the Honours Coordinator and/or your supervisor may require you to confirm certain facts in writing, usually through email correspondence.
- You should then fill out the School Honours/GD Special Consideration Form which is available on the School website [here].
- Your application form should be accompanied by written copies of supporting documentation, which usually consist of certificates from medical practitioners describing the nature and duration of any circumstances that have prevented you from studying. The practitioner may either supply a separate document or may fill in the relevant part of the form. There are Faculty guidelines for supporting documentation (http://sydney.edu.au/science/cstudent/ug/forms.shtml#special_consideration)
- The supporting documentation should include a clear “impact statement”, i.e. specifying how your circumstances have affected your studies. If this is not made clear through the medical certificates you should provide a statement of impact yourself, made as a statutory declaration (http://sydney.edu.au/science/cstudent/ug/forms/stat_dec_form.pdf).
- The form and any supporting documentation must be given to the Honours Coordinator or the School’s Front Office.
- The Honours Coordinator is required to see originals of any supporting documentation and to retain copies of them that will be stored securely in the School for 12 months after the end of your Honours candidature. The Head of School, your supervisor and relevant personnel from the Faculty of Science or the University may request to see this supporting documentation, but it is otherwise held in confidence.
- Any claim for special consideration must be made in a timely manner, i.e., as close as possible in time to the circumstances preventing you from studying. Any claims should be lodged with the Honours Coordinator before the Honours Board of Examiners at which your Honours performance is assessed (usually in June and November, depending on your start date). All applications for special consideration are assessed by the Honours Board of Examiners or a duly authorised committee consisting of the Honours Coordinator, the Associate Head of School (Teaching) and the Head of School. The Board of Examiners will assess the claim for special consideration based only on what is presented to them, so it is important that the claim is complete.
- The usual outcomes of a special consideration application are a) the granting of an extension to your Honours candidature, or b) that your difficulties would be taken into account in determining your Honours performance when marks are finalised by the Honours Board of Examiners. If an extension has been requested, the Honours Coordinator will consult with your supervisor(s) to determine the length of an extension such that you are not advantaged over other students. If your circumstances are serious and of a medical nature it may be possible to suspend your candidature for one semester. In any case the Honours Coordinator is required to pass on details of the School’s decision to the Faculty and receive final approval from them.
- You will be made aware of the outcome of your application for special consideration as soon as possible after the submission of your application. If you disagree with the outcome of your claim, you may appeal the decision to the Associate Head of School (Teaching) within ten days of you receiving the decision from the Honours Coordinator.
- In line with the Faculty, the School does not grant special consideration for simple computer/IT related problems, “except where a police report is provided indicating that burglary or calamity has resulted in the loss of a computer.” See http://sydney.edu.au/science/cstudent/ug/forms/special_faqs.shtml for other non-allowable circumstances.)
- While the Graduate Diploma is formally a postgraduate qualification, it has a structure similar to Honours and consists of undergraduate units. Hence the same procedures for special consideration are held to apply.