The honour of doing Honours

Aisling Philippa reflects on making an application for the 2015 Honours program. 

Studying for last law school exam

As we head into spring, the sun begins to shine a bit more, the grass gets a bit greener, and you’re still stuck inside reading about Dr Theorist who Thought Big Things and could be the difference between passing and failing your mid-semester exams. That, and answering the question that seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue: what are you going to do once you’ve finished your degree?

As I’m in my last semester, I’d like to think that I’m grown-up enough to head out into the big, bad world and find a full-time job – but the reality is, I feel like I can get more from continuing to study. Specifically, doing Honours.

Think you’re in the same boat? Well, there may be some more to think about – while Honours applications are yet to officially open, here’s five things to consider before diving into the more prestigious side of academia . . .

  1. Consider your eligibility

There are specific criteria in terms of your grades that you have to fulfill in order to be considered for the Honours program. Remember that class in first year that you perpetually forgot to hand in those weekly assignments for? Hard to believe that’s going to make a difference three years down the track. There are three different ways of determining whether you would be suited for the Honours program – and you only have to fulfill one of them. It is expected that you would have attained a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA):

  • Across the subjects from your entire degree
  • Through all of the subjects attributed to your chosen major; or
  • Within 80 units of 3000 level subjects – which must include at least 40 units of 3000 level subjects from your major

Alternatively, if you have completed less than 80 units at the 3000 level, you must have achieved a GPA of 5.5 from at least 60 units of 3000 level subjects – and again, at least 40 of those units must be from 3000 level courses attributed to your major. Essentially, you’ve got some number crunching to do. Not sure about your GPA? The University’s GPA calculator can give you a rough idea as to where you currently sit.

  1. Make sure you’re ready to graduate!

Seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes checking in with your Program Officer can be helpful just to ensure you’re on the right track. Consider making an appointment with your degree’s Program Officer to review the subjects you have already completed.

  1. Find a supervisor

Supervisors are a source of support and direction for your thesis – and also a wellspring of knowledge that could be helpful for your Honours project. There’s no time like the present to start opening up that topic of conversation with your favourite lecturer.

  1. Consider your topic

Since this is going to be something you’re able to write about for a good 15,000 – 20,000 words, it’s best that you seek a topic that is related to your area of study, and that you’re interested in. Attending open days through the university can also help – these will have more information about previous Honours topics and have the right kind of people to talk to, so you can get your creative juices flowing.

  1. Submit the paperwork

Finally, make sure to get the right paperwork in on time! In order to be considered for Honours, you will need to complete and submit the relevant documentation: your faculty’s Honours application form – which can be found through your program handbook Honours page – along with the direct admission form, a brief project proposal and, depending on the situation, a certified Academic Transcript. On top of that, the application requires an attached passport-sized photograph and 100 points of identification.

Applications for Semester 1 2015 will be accepted at the Shortland and Ourimbah Student Hubs between 1 December 2014 and 31 January 2015.

Does anyone else have any tips for Honours applications? Share them in the comments section below.

Image: John Althouse Cohen