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Understanding honours

Honours is an additional program during which you build on your undergraduate studies by completing a self-directed research project. This may be integrated into your undergraduate degree or require an additional year of study.

Overview and types of programs

Honours provides extra specialisation in your area of interest, can improve your career prospects and provides a step to further academic study including a PhD.

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.

What’s involved

Honours will be either an additional one-year full-time course, or integrated in the final stages of your undergraduate degree. You may be able to complete honours part time in some disciplines.

Your honours program will generally consist of three components:

  • a supervised but independent research program
  • additional courses in research design/technical training
  • some coursework study, which may need to be completed before honours commences.

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 program, you will graduate with an honours degree. Your pass degree will not be conferred.

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

Types of honours programs

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

Combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Honours)

If you are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies, you can elect to complete honours in the fourth 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), you will be moving 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.

Embedded honours

If you’re already enrolled in a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to apply for honours as an embedded program within your current degree. This means you will complete your honours study in the final semesters of your current undergraduate degree by completing specific units. Your honours program will not increase the overall time taken to complete your studies.

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

There may be some degrees where you complete an integrated honours program 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.

Stand-alone honours

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

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 programs in different subject areas. This normally takes an additional year, extending your studies to two years full time.

Joint honours is when you complete honours 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 programs.

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

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Last updated: 21 January 2021

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