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Understanding honours

Honours is an additional qualification where you can build on your undergraduate studies by completing a self-directed research project and disciplinary or research-focused coursework. This may be integrated into your undergraduate degree or require an additional year of study.

Overview and types of honours

You can undertake honours either as part of the combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies, or through a stand-alone course after your undergraduate degree. Some professional or specialist degrees also have embedded or integrated honours.

Honours provides an opportunity to work on an independent but supervised research project and is usually completed as one year full-time study (some disciplines offer part-time options).

Under the guidance of an academic supervisor, you will choose a thesis topic, create a reading list and identify your method of research.

Academics in your faculty or school will provide supervision as you write your thesis. This thesis will document your research from proposal through to conclusion.

Why study honours?

Completing honours shows you have achieved high academic standards and gives you an honours-level award.

An honours pathway can open the door for further research study, equipping you with the prerequisite research skills to undertake a research degree such as the PhD. 

Alternatively, if you decide to only complete an honours pathway without pursuing further research, you will graduate with a robust set of transferrable skills including: 

  • time management and research skills 
  • project management and delivery 
  • showing future employers that you can investigate independently and achieve more complex goals.

What’s involved

Generally, honours will consist of three components:

  • an independent research project, mentored by your academic supervisor
  • additional units in research design/technical training
  • some honours and coursework units.

You will usually complete a dissertation or thesis and attend regular meetings with your supervisor to discuss your research.

Once you complete the requirements for your honours, you will graduate with an honours level award.

You can contact the faculty or school honours coordinator from the area of interest you are considering, for more information about honours. We also hold honours information sessions (usually in September) where you can discuss your options.

Types of honours

The type of honours you undertake depends on your individual study circumstances.

Honours in the combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies

If you are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies and eligible, you can elect to complete honours in the final year of your studies.

If you are completing a liberal studies degree and commenced your studies in 2018 or later (or transferred to the new curriculum version of your degree in 2018), and eligible, you can complete honours by transferring into the combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree. This adds an additional year to your single bachelor’s degree in which you will complete your honours, and means you will graduate with two bachelor’s degrees.

Stand-alone honours

Stand-alone or appended honours is an additional course that you complete after you have finished your undergraduate degree. Generally, stand-alone honours is available to both current University of Sydney students and external applicants. You’ll find information and eligibility criteria for most stand-alone honours degrees in Find a course.

As a current student, often you'll need to apply through Find a course in the same way that external applicants apply, but may also need to submit an additional application form to your school or discipline.

Types of stand-alone honours:

  • Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Honours) (1 year full-time): if you are on track to or have completed two majors you can apply for the stand-alone Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Honours) degree 
  • Appended honours (1 year full-time): if you are on track to or have completed one major you can apply for an appended honours degree. When searching for these on Sydney Courses (Find a course) these degrees will look like the Bachelor of Arts (Honours)  
  • Specialised or vocational honours (1 year full-time). Some honours areas require an undergraduate background in the same study area. Some examples include: 
  • Bachelor of Nursing (Honours) 
  • Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) 
  • Bachelor of Project Management (Honours)  

Embedded honours

Some bachelor’s degrees have honours embedded within them. You will complete your honours study in the final semesters of your current undergraduate degree by completing specific units. Honours will not increase the overall time taken to complete your studies.

Generally, you will apply for embedded honours directly to your faculty or school.

Integrated honours

There may be some specialist and professional degrees where you complete honours integrated within the duration of your degree. You won’t have to apply separately to do honours and won’t need to complete specific honours units. An example is the Bachelor of Engineering.

Double and joint honours

In some situations it is possible to complete either double honours or joint honours.

Double honours means you complete two separate honours theses in different subject areas. This normally takes an additional year, extending your studies to two years full time.

Joint honours is when you complete an honours thesis in two subject areas closely related to each other. A special program of study is designed that allows you to complete the course concurrently in one year.

To apply for double or joint honours, you need to meet the eligibility requirements for both honours.

Contact the honours coordinator in your faculty or school to discuss your options.

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Last updated: 20 July 2021

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