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Honours in Science

Enhance your future career opportunities with a one-year research program
A unique opportunity for you to explore your research potential and put the theory from your undergraduate studies into practice.

What is honours?

The honours year in science is a widely recognised and highly regarded additional year of study available to you after you complete your undergraduate course.

An honours qualification in science is not only impresive in academia, but also in industry where laboratory experience and a command of scientific thought processes are highly sought after. Honours is a unique opportunity for students to explore their research potential by designing an independent project and producing a thesis of their work.

Honours also enhances your career prospects. Graduate Destination Surveys consistently reveal that students who have completed an Honours year are significantly more likely to gain employment in an area related to their field of study, compared to students who have completed a three-year science degree.

How can I undertake an honours year?

Contacts

If you have some discipline-specific questions about honours or honours projects, get in touch with a coordinator below:

Discipline honours information

In 2017, the University of Sydney established a dedicated honours program based at Westmead, one of the world's largest health and medical research precincts.

Why study honours at Westmead?

  • Learn from leading experts who are conducting critical research into the causes and mechanisms of disease, and devising novel interventions for prevention and treatment.
  • Be part of a large and diverse Westmead student community of around 2,000 students, including hundreds of PhD and honours candidates.
  • Scientists and researchers at Westmead work in close collaboration with clinicians, giving unparalleled opportunities for ‘bench to bedside’ translational research.
  • The Westmead campus is the largest health and medical precinct in NSW including three major medical research institutes, two large-scale University of Sydney teaching hospitals, and the largest research-active pathology service in NSW.
  • Mid-year entry is available.

Who should study this course?

Honours at Westmead is available if you have studied:

  • A Bachelor of Medical Science undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney and you want to undertake a Bachelor of Medical Science Honours at Westmead or;
  • A Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree from any university.

Honours at Westmead offers a broad range of medical science and science related projects ranging from basic research, clinical research, public heath, allied health and social sciences. It is an ideal program for those considering higher degree research, medicine or working in the medical field. 

For more information about honours projects at Westmead found here.

Do you want the chance to do real research under the guidance of some of the most highly respected scientists in Australia? Your honours year of research in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences will give you that and much more, as you delve into your area of interest in a year-long research project.

Choose from an array of exciting projects in life and environmental sciences, and delve into detail like you’ve never had the chance to before, as you focus on your sustained research project.

You’ll get technical training in research techniques and instrumentation, as well as invaluable skills in communication, project management and critical analysis. 

For instructions, projects and supervisor information please read the handbook:

Contact soles.education@sydney.edu.au if you have any questions or issues.

More information on the Current Students site on how to apply and the SOLES Student Portal on Canvas (internal student access only).

An honours year in chemistry provides the opportunity to be involved in a research program and provides training in research techniques and experience with modern state of the art research instrumentation. The honours program adds a new dimension to the skills that you have acquired during your undergraduate years and enhances your immediate employment prospects and, more significantly, your future career potential. You will have the opportunity to work on research for 90% of the year.

In the honours year, each student undertakes a research project under the supervision of a member of staff, writes a thesis which explains the problem, outlines the research undertaken and the results obtained, and also attends advanced lecture courses and seminars.

An honours year widens the range of employment possibilities and it may lead to the opportunity to proceed to a postgraduate degree.

The School of Chemistry offers a wide range of projects for Honours students covering all areas of contemporary chemistry. You will join a group of approximately 40 honours students in chemistry and work alongside approximately 120 postgraduates currently enrolled in MSc and PhD research programs. 

All students with a sound record in chemistry are strongly encouraged to enrol in an honours program in the School of Chemistry.

Application is a two-step process: Honours and Graduate Diploma in Science applicants must apply directly to the School of Chemistry as well as the Faculty of Science.

The School of Geosciences offers Honours in geography, geophysics and geology. Honours in these disciplines involves coursework and requires an original research project to be undertaken under the guidance of a supervisor.

Entry into the Honours program generally requires completion of a credit average in senior units of study in either the geography or geology & geophysics majors, and a Weighted Average Mark (WAM) of at least 65. In some years when the number of applicants exceeds resources (availability of supervisors, laboratory space, etc.) offers will be made according to academic merit. 

Current honours projects

Supervisor: Professor Phil McManus
Topics: Sustainable cities, human-animal relations, environmental management, urban forestry/greening, impact assessment, and similar topics.

Supervisor: Dr Sophie Webber
Topics: Sophie’s research interests include the politics and economies of climate change and development in South East Asia and the Pacific, particularly concerning circulations of knowledge and finance. Potential Honours research topics might fall under the following themes:
* Climate change adaptation and resilience 
* The politics of climate science and climate finance
* Market-based environmental governance and policy
* International development, including evidence based policy in international development

Supervisor: Earthbyte Group (various)
Topics: Earthbyte Group Projects


Supervisors: 
Dr Emma Calgaro, Professor Dale Dominey-Howes

Topics: “What does ‘inclusion’ mean in relation to disaster preparedness and response in Australia?” OR “What are the barriers and opportunities for making disaster risk reduction (DRR) more inclusive in Australia?”

‘Inclusivity’ is a central buzz word in Australian disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies, plans and practices. Inclusion of all and everyone. But what does that really mean? Is everyone ‘included’ in DRR planning and practice? How is inclusivity enabled and fostered? How does it happen in practice (if at all)? How do we measure or demonstrate inclusivity? Do certain individuals or groups feel less included and if so, why? What barriers and opportunities are there in relation to achieving meaningful inclusion in DRR in Australia? This project will explore these issues by focusing on individuals, groups, communities and stakeholders and/or specific disaster-affected places (to be determined in consultation with the Honours student).

Topic: “How widespread is ‘researcher trauma’ in the Australasian Geography academic community?”

Recent research focused on geographers who work in the field of hazard and disaster risk has shown that many have experienced a range of symptoms associated with secondary or vicarious trauma associated with repeated work in post-disaster affected places.

However, it may be that geographers working in other research topic areas may experience similar – yet unreported – forms of researcher trauma (e.g., geographies of domestic violence; geographies of human-animal interactions; geographies of human-environment studies; geographies of development; geographies of criminal activity; geographies of death and dying etc).

This project will survey Australasian geographers who see themselves as working with potentially traumatising research content, places and themes, and explore the range of impacts and effects and coping mechanisms used by those researchers.

Studying fourth year Honours in history and philosophy of science can lead to many different career paths such as science policy, science administration, science education, science journalism, and science writing, and, in particular, serves as an excellent preparation for an academic career. 

Working closely with an academic supervisor in a lively and supportive department, HPS honours students gain experience in formulating a research question and producing a substantial piece of original research.

While some students have pursued PhDs in our Unit, several students who have obtained an honours degree with us have continued their postgraduate education at leading programs at the most prestigious universities around the world, among them the University of Cambridge and Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and Pittsburgh Universities.

The structure of the HPS honours year

Honours students are expected to complete four Honours level Units of Study successfully and write a 15,000 words thesis based on independent research. A thesis supervisor will guide you through the steps of conducting research for your thesis and writing up the results. 

We currently offer four honours level units, which provide a comprehensive background in history and philosophy of science. 

Semester 1

Semester 2

In addition, there are four units of study in which you need to enrol which represent work on your thesis.

Your thesis will be graded by two independent academics who are familiar with the thesis topic. The final grade for your Honours year is: 50% (average grade for Units of Study) and 50% (thesis mark).

Applying for Honours in HPS

To be eligible to enrol in the Honours program, you need to have a bachelors degree with an average grade of at least a credit. If you graduated from the University of Sydney, you are expected to have majored in HPS. If you are from another university, you are expected to have a similar background.

However, we have accepted students with a minimal background in HPS if they have good reasons to pursue an honours degree with us. You could acquire the required knowledge by taking units of study or reading courses either before or during your honours year. Whether this option is appropriate and what should be the courses taken will be decided for each applicant personally, according to the judgment of the Unit.

If you would like to pursue this option, please contact HPS Honours Coordinator.

Application process

  1. Make appointment to speak to relevant supervisor or honours coordinator 
  2. Complete and submit the HPS honours application form

Contact:

Dr Josiah Poon

Ph: +61 2 9351 7185

E: joshiah.poon@sydney.edu.au

Students may take an honours year in applied mathematics, pure mathematics or mathematical statistics and, from 2020, data science. In all cases, assessment is by a combination of coursework (~40%) and a project (~60%). While the three divisions offer courses separately, the honours program is flexible and students are encouraged to consult the relevant honours coordinator if they are interested in taking a course from another division. 

An honours years in the medical sciences is undertaken either within a specific discipline, such as Anatomy & Histology, Physiology, Pharmacology and Pathology, or externally in any Research Institute or Clinical School associated with these disciplines (in particular those affiliated with the Bosch Institute).

Each research project is under the supervision of a member of academic staff and, in the case of external candidates, in association with a supervisor from the laboratory where the work will be performed.

The primary objectives of an honours year are to

  • Train undergraduate research students in the methodologies, skills, conventions and ethics of science
  • Promote links between basic science, the disciplines of the School of Medical Science and clinical medicine
  • Prepare students for postgraduate studies
  • Foster a broadly based interest in science among graduates of the University
  • Conduct high quality research in an environment of intellectual freedom and equal opportunity
  • Encourage research students to publish their results in high quality journals
  • Provide a safe working environment for students and to ensure that they learn safe laboratory practices

To enrol in a Bachelor of Science (Honours) or Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) or equivalent degree, the Faculty requires that students must have obtained a weighted average mark of 65 or greater, and have approached a supervisor who has agreed to undertake supervision of the nominated project. Students not meeting this criterion may consult the honours coordinator to discuss the possibility of entry.

To obtain an honours degree in physics it is necessary to complete a fourth undergraduate year which is devoted to the study of physics.

Students may also undertake Honours course part-time over two years (in which case the research project must be completed in two consecutive semesters), and/or start mid-year.

Upon completion, a student is eligible for the award of First Class Honours, Second Class Honours (Division 1 or 2) or Third Class Honours. University Medals in Physics are awarded to the top students if the standard achieved is sufficiently high. 

The same course is taken by candidates for the Graduate Diploma in Science (Physics).

Please note that due to the competitive nature of Honours in Psychology you must complete both a school application and the University application to be eligible for admission.
 
For more information on the School application please download and read the Honours Information Session Presentation (Powerpoint, 4.8mb) and the Psychology Honours Application Information pack (145kb).