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Honours in Science

Enhance your future career opportunities with a single year of additional study
A unique opportunity for you to explore your research potential and extend your undergraduate studies.

Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Honours) 

With the introduction of the new Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Honours), prospective and continuing students should refer to the current students site and the handbook in determining their course selection.

Honours areas

Jump to your relevant discipline section:

What is honours in science?

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 impressive in academia, but also in industry where research experience and a command of critical thinking are highly sought after. Honours is a unique opportunity for students to explore their potential by designing and conducting an independent research project and producing a thesis of their work.

Honours will provide you a pathway to a higher degree by research, such as a PhD, and 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 honours in science?

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

Honours disciplines

The University of Sydney has 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.

Honours projects available in:

  • Chemistry
  • Medicinal Chemistry

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.

Honours projects available in:

  • Computer Science
  • Data Science
  • Information Systems
  • Software Development

Contact:

Dr Josiah Poon
Ph: +61 2 9351 7185
E: joshiah.poon@sydney.edu.au

Do you want to graduate from the University of Sydney with a research thesis you can show to prospective employers? Honours in geography will provide you the opportunity to develop real-world research skills and apply them to a specific problem. You will work closely with a supervisor, be part of a small group of committed, high-achieving Honours students, and be part of the wider community of staff and students in the School of Geosciences.

Honours in geography is available to students with a major in geography or a cognate area (such as environmental studies or marine science) and who meet the University’s admission requirements for Honours (which include a minimum SCIWAM of 65 and approval by the School of Geosciences). It involves an advanced coursework program of seminars and reports (accounting for 25% of the program’s assessment) and an individually-written Honours thesis of 20,000 words addressing a specific research question (accounting for 75% of the program’s assessment). The process of working with your supervisor in developing your topic, and then generating new knowledge about it through original research, represents an additional dimension to your future employability and long-term career prospects.

The research problem that forms the basis for your Honours thesis will be developed in consultation with a supervisor. The lecturers in the geography units you have taken during your undergraduate degree are all able to act as supervisors. In the first instance, you should contact a lecturer and discuss your interest in Honours. It is possible for your Honours thesis to be developed either as part of a wider research project being undertaken by the supervisor, and involving collaborations with other members of academic staff and postgraduates; or as a stand-alone project guided by your own interests and passions.

Geography is an integrative and holistic discipline that is well-suited to addressing contemporary global problems and grand challenges (see the 2018 Australian Academy of Sciences decadal plan for geography: Geography: shaping Australia’s future). It uses evidence-based research to inform knowledge, policy and practice in national priority areas including:

  1. environmental change and human response
  2. land, water and food
  3. health and wellbeing
  4. the economy
  5. the Asia–Pacific region
  6. natural hazards
  7. rural and regional Australia
  8. the cities
  9. coastal and marine environments
  10. geographical information systems and science.

Geography at the University of Sydney has been taught and researched since the foundational Department of Geography was established in 1920 and we have a proud tradition of encouraging a wide range of Honours topics relevant to understanding our planet as the home of humans and the more-than-human. Join us to advance a century of cutting-edge research in geography!

In recent years, Honours topics have included research on: foreign ownership of agricultural land in rural NSW; bushfire risk assessment; socio-cultural perceptions of antimicrobial resistance; disaster declarations in NSW; sediment transport and wave pumping on offshore coral reefs; forced urban evictions in Jakarta; food security in India; and green gentrification at Barangaroo.

The application for Honours in geography is a two-step process. First, students should email prospective supervisors and arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss Honours. The Honours coordinator in geosciences, Professor Dale Dominey-Howes should be copied into emails. You should do this in the semester prior to your proposed entry into Honours, and our strong advice is to make contact with prospective supervisors earlier rather than later. Don’t delay the discussion.

Second, students need also to apply for admission into Honours through the University. Choose the faculty that your degree is administered by on this page for further information on applying. 

We look forward to hearing from you!

Do you want to develop your independent research skills and start to focus on topics of special interest to you? Do you want to graduate from the University of Sydney with a research thesis you can show to prospective employers? Honours in geology and Honours in geophysics will provide you with the opportunity to develop real-world research skills and apply them to a specific problem. You will work closely with a supervisor, be part of a small group of committed, high-achieving Honours students, and be part of the wider community of staff and students in the School of Geosciences.

This Honours path is available to students with a major in geology and geophysics or a cognate area (such as environmental studies or marine science) who meet the University’s admission requirements for Honours (which include a minimum SCIWAM of 65 and approval by the School of Geosciences). It involves an advanced coursework program (accounting for a 25% of the program’s assessment) and an individually-written Honours thesis of 20,000 words addressing a specific research question (accounting for 75% of the program’s assessment). The process of working with your supervisor in developing your topic, and then generating new knowledge about it through original research, represents an additional dimension to your future employability and long-term career prospects.

The research problem that forms the basis for your Honours thesis will be developed in consultation with a supervisor. The lecturers in the geology and geophysics, environmental studies or marine science units that you have taken during your undergraduate degree are all able to act as supervisors. In the first instance, you should contact a lecturer and discuss your interest in Honours. It is possible for your Honours thesis to be developed either as part of a wider research project being undertaken by the supervisor, possibly involving collaborations with other members of academic staff and postgraduates; or as a stand-alone project guided by your own interests and passions. Geology and geophysics, along with environmental studies and marine science, are integrative and holistic disciplines.

Geology at the University of Sydney has been taught and researched since the appointment of Australia’s first Professor of Geology and his foundation of the first Geology Department in 1893. At the University of Sydney, we have a proud tradition of encouraging a wide range of Honours topics relevant to understanding the interconnected systems that characterise our planet and its ability to sustain life. Join us to advance a century of cutting-edge research in geology and geophysics!

In recent years, Honours topics have included research on: the deep crustal evolution of the Gondwana supercontinent; development of Holocene reefs in the Southern Great Barrier Reef; unravelling the origin of a gold-copper deposit in Western Australia; characterising newly discovered volcanoes of Zealandia; bioremediation of contaminated sediments; computer-based modelling of the evolution of PNG; submarine landslides along Australia’s coastline; a 100 million-year history of carbon accumulation in the Atlantic Ocean; and many other topics.

The application for Honours is a two-step process. First, students should email prospective supervisors and arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss Honours. The Honours coordinator in geosciences, Professor Dale Dominey-Howes should be copied into emails. You should do this in the semester prior to your proposed entry into Honours, and our strong advice is to make contact with prospective supervisors earlier rather than later. Don’t delay the discussion.

Second, students need also to apply for admission into Honours through the University. Choose the faculty that your degree is administered by on this page for further information on applying. 

We look forward to hearing from you!

Honours projects available in:

  • Health
  • Human Movement

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

Honours projects in the following areas:

  • Agriculture
  • Animal and Veterinary Bioscience
  • Animal Health, Disease and Welfare
  • Animal Production
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Biology
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Environmental Science
  • Food and Agribusiness
  • Food Science
  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Marine Science
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition Science
  • Plant Production
  • Quantitative Life Sciences
  • Soil Science and Hydrology

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).

Honours projects available in:

  • Data science
  • Financial Mathematics and Statistics
  • Mathematics (Applied)
  • Mathematics (Pure)
  • Quantitative Life Sciences
  • Statistics

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. 

Honours projects available in:

  • Anatomy and Histology
  • Applied Medical Science
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Neuroscience
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology

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).

Honours in Psychology requires completion of coursework units and research project units, with a thesis produced under the supervision of an academic from the School. Successful completion of Honours in Psychology makes you eligible to apply for APAC-accredited postgraduate programs and/or postgraduate research programs.

Due to the competitive nature of Honours in Psychology, applicants will be ranked on their Honours Application Mark – prospective students can get an idea of where they stand with our Honours Application Mark Calculator (Excel, 14.4 KB).

All applicants must complete a School Application (opens on Wed 2nd Oct), and most applicants will then also complete a University Application, except for Bachelor of Psychology students. More information about both applications can be found in the Honours Information Booklet (PDF, 89.1 KB), and a general overview of the Honours in Psychology program can be found in the slides from the Honours Information Session (PDF, 382.6 KB).