Course aims

The 3-term (equivalent) Aviation Honours Program aims to help students achieve, through research, a deep understanding of a specific aspect of aviation, while developing a range of skills that are highly valued in industry, including:

  • Time management.
  • Project management.
  • Problem solving.
  • Working in a team.
  • Collecting and analysing information.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Designing research to advance knowledge or address an issue.
  • Data analysis techniques.
  • Report writing.
  • Presentation of information to an audience.

The Aviation Honours Program introduces students to academic research and provides the opportunity to be eligible for a post-graduate research degree.

Course summary

Within the Aviation Honours Program you would:

  • conduct research in the broad field of aviation and transport, meeting regularly (typically once per week) with their academic supervisor
  • attend research skills workshops (approximately weekly in their first or second Term of enrolment) and school research presentations (approximately fortnightly throughout the year).

Course learning outcomes

At the successful completion of Aviation Honours Program you should be able to:

  • demonstrate an advanced understanding of a specific aviation topic
  • demonstrate an ability to undertake scientific research
  • demonstrate an understanding of the research process as applied to aviation
  • develop a research proposal on a specific aviation topic
  • write a research report evidencing good practice in report writing
  • present your research to peers, staff and other interested persons in a seminar format.


The Aviation Honours Program assessment process involves four milestones that provide an opportunity for student learning feedback, plus two assessment tasks for which marks are recorded (and feedback given):








Assessment Criteria/Feedback


Due Date

Milestone 1:  Research Proposal

Maximum of 1500 words


Feedback provided by supervisor within 3 weeks of submission

Week 6, first term of enrolment

Milestone 2:  Literature Review

Maximum of 3000 words


Feedback provided by supervisor within 3 weeks of submission

Week 5, second term of enrolment

Milestone 3:  Midway Presentation (of research project plans/conduct to date)

15 min presentation + 5 min Q&A


Feedback provided by academic attendees within 1 week of presentation

Week 5, second term of enrolment

Assessment 1:  Final Presentation (of completed research project)

30 min presentation + 10 min Q&A


Grade and feedback provided by academic attendees within 2 days of presentation

Week 9, third term of enrolment

Assessment 2:  Academic research thesis

Maximum of 20,000 words


Grade and feedback provided by examiners within 4 weeks of submission   

Week 10, third term of enrolment

Milestone 4:  Thesis Discussion

(of the submitted thesis between the student and up to 3 examiners,

facilitated by Honours course convenor)

20-30 min interview



Within 3 weeks of thesis submission


Assessment tasks are each marked by at least two academics. The possible grades for the Honours program are: 

  • Fail (<49%)
  • Hons. Class III (50% to 64%)
  • Hons. Class II, Division 2 (65% to 74%)
  • Hons. Class II, Division I (75% to 84%)
  • Hons. Class I (>85%)

Applying for the Aviation Honours Program

Entry requirements

To apply for the Aviation Honours Program you must have achieved a Credit (WAM 65) plus average in a 3-year full-time bachelor degree specialising in Aviation. This typically includes the UNSW 3980 Aviation (Flying) and 3981 Aviation (Management) programs but may include other Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Engineering programs where students have majored in Aviation or Aerospace Engineering.

Application process

Application for entry into the Aviation Honours Program is made via the Science Faculty. The application procedures and deadlines are available at Honours, how to apply. Note that you may apply to enter the program in Term 1, Term 2, or Term 3.

To apply you first need to identify an academic in the School of Aviation who is willing to supervise your Honours research. Please consider the potential supervisors and their areas of research below under Honours Research Supervisors. Organise to meet with potential supervisors whose research interests you to discuss your plans.

When you have a willing supervisor fill out the Science Honours application form, attaching written evidence of the supervisor's acceptance to supervise (such as a copy of an email correspondence).

If you have other questions or need assistance with your decisions about Honours or the application process, please contact the Aviation Honours Program Convenor:

Dr Mirjam Wiedemann

Honours research supervisors and research areas

Specialisation is encouraged in all areas of aviation. The specific research areas of potential supervisors are indicated below, and their profiles (accessed by clicking their name) provide further detail. Supervisors develop Honours topics of mutual interest with students.

  • Areas of research: road safety

    Tel: +61 2 9385 6227

    Recent topics include, for example:

    • Reporting of aviation crashes in Australian newspapers

    Suggested topics include:

    • Airline safety in the age of social media
    • The analysis of digital flight data to monitor the performance of flying students
    • Factors that contribute to pilot shortage in Australia
    • Data integration and aviation safety
  • Areas of research: human factors and safety

    Tel: +61 2 9385 7184

    Recent topics include, for example:

    • Investigating eye tracking technology as a tool to improve the visual scanning techniques of novice pilots

    Suggested topics include:

    • Improving the accessibility of air travel for people with disability
    • Use and evaluation of international standards on safety management systems
    • Validation of selection tests for trainee pilots
    • Methods for providing feedback on trainee pilot visual scanning
    • Reliability and usability of methods for understanding complex systems and incidents (e.g., FRAM)
    • Safety management, practices and responsibilities for transnational operations
    • Aviation health and wellbeing: physical and mental health of crew and passengers
    • Improving Injury data classification and management
  • Areas of research: air transportation and freight services; human geography; commerce; management; tourism and services

    Tel: +61 2 9385 6737

    Recent topics include, for example:

    • Modelling public acceptance of recreational and commercial remotely piloted aircraft in Sydney 
    • Development and validation of airport dependency indices
    • Exploratory study of the impact of significant ecotourism experience on voluntary carbon-offset behaviour of travellers

    Suggested topics include:

    • Modelling sustainable air travel choices and practices by consumers of aviation
    • Commercial, recreational, research-based airborne drone management, policy, and governance
    • Research methods in air route development for stakeholders such as airports and tourism
    • Methods and tools for mapping spatial and temporal dynamics of the air transport-tourism system
  • Areas of research: human factors and aviation safety; pilot risk management; aviation (mis)communication; noise effects; pilot training and performance; cabin safety and passenger behaviour; human performance; remotely piloted aircraft

    Tel: +61 2 9385 6757

    Recent topics include, for example:

    • Using EEG spectral components to assess the fatiguing effect of aircraft noise
    • Effect of tone of feedback on the performance of student pilots
    • Investigating predictors of risk in the general population and the pilot population
    • Pilot psychology: health and wellbeing

    Suggested topics include:

    • Road safety: reducing young drivers’ speed behaviour
    • Aviation Safety: Reducing pilots’ miscommunication
    • Aviation Safety: Effect of visual and auditory feedback on student pilots’ learning outcome
    • Aviation Safety: Improving passengers’ recall of information presented in the pre-flight safety briefing
    • Road safety: training young novice drivers where to look to improve speed management
    • Aviation Safety: Understanding communication errors between pilots and air traffic control
    • Aviation Safety: Improving pilots risk management through cognitive integration training
  • Areas of research: airports, drones, sustainable aviation, aerotropolis/airport city, regional economic development (including tourism strategies), aviation finance strategies and economics, aviation strategic management

    Tel: +61 2 9348 1689

    Recent topics include, for example:

    • Safety considerations of hydrogen refuelling stations in the airport environment
    • How to facilitate tacit knowledge spillover between companies in different industries in an Aerotropolis

    Suggested topics include:

    • Integration of advanced and sustainable aviation technologies into the airport master plan
    • Private-public-partnerships for a drone taxi public transport service
    • Aerotropolis successes and failures: factors, methods and tools
    • Drones for regional integration and prosperity
    • Economic development in airport regions
    • Airport and Region: Interfaces and stakeholders
    • Integration of hydrogen as a fuel in the airport environment and on the road
    • Electric flight infrastructure for airports and regions
    • Drone infrastructure for airports and regions
    • Cost-benefit analysis for new aviation technologies: drones, hydrogen and electric flight
    • Life cycle analysis for new aviation technologies: drones, hydrogen and electric flight
  • Areas of research: airline management/performance

    Tel: +61 2 9385 4191

    Recent topics include, for example:

    • The impact of personalised mobile marketing on passenger shopping behaviours in the airport terminal
    • Assessing the effect of textual and visual information presentation on the usability of airline web interface with eye-tracker and EEG
    • The impact of personalised mobile marketing on passenger shopping behaviours in the airport terminal
    • Understanding and predicting consumer behaviour based on an analysis of clickstream and frequent flyer data
    • Effects of enterprise bargaining and agreement clauses on operating cost of airline ground crew scheduling

    Suggested topics include:

    • Data models on passenger movement patterns in an airport terminal
    • Visual attention of passengers in airport retail shops
    • Air passenger retail purchase modelling and airport terminal space design
    • Reinforcement learning models in airline scheduling

Some comments on the Aviation Honours Program

  • “The Honours degree is perfect for anyone who wants to do academic [work] in the future. It is a fantastic experience to learn how to undertake research. It helped me to improve my communication skills, writing skills as well as my presentation skills. Doing Honours allowed me to meet new friends and colleagues, giving me opportunities to learn from others and grow closer.
    I truly believe that undertaking an honours degree helps me to get a firm foothold in my future study.”

    Honours graduate, 2020


    "I guess the biggest skill developed for me was some programming skills which proves to be really useful in career. The experience to put some theory to test/ application was really wonderful as well. Another thing I find myself to have developed was the skill to manage myself throughout the project, both in learning and working through the project.
    My presentation skills were also vastly improved in the honours year too. 
    Having an honours degree does kick start my career very well and is considered as an advantage over others who don’t for purpose of promotion and recruitment."

    Honours graduate, 2019


    "The Honours degree has opened the door to further academic study. It also gave me the opportunity to network with talented researchers and people from the industry (airports and airlines)."

    Honours graduate, 2019


    "Undertaking the Aviation Honours programme was one of the most rewarding experience for me during my time at UNSW. Over the course of the programme, I discovered within myself an innate inclination towards research and data analytics. Candidates are free to choose from a vast array of academic dissertation topics, well-supervised by our panel of strong, passionate and welcoming academic professors. During my tenure,
    I was presented with the opportunity to delve into the application of Finance theory in Tourism - a bringing together of two extensive, overarching concepts. I was given first hand industry data to process, manipulate and analyse - an opportunity not many can say they have had.
    Apart from the vast exposures, candidates were also placed in a self-striving environment to hone and develop specific skills. Instilled within my candidateship is a unique strategic research and analytical proficiency that I can be sure to carry far into the course of my career. Having undertaken the Honours programme, I am confident knowing I have the skills employers are looking for. The doors of opportunity are open for me if I wish to go into research & academia, and wider still if I wanted to go into the workforce.
    Above all else, the close bond students share with their academic supervisor is by far the most fulfilling experience in their Honours year. The affinity transcends that of the professor-student relationship. My supervisor was my guardian and close confidante, always ready to assist and guide me towards accomplishing my model and thesis. Even beyond the scope of academics, my supervisor was present to provide sound advice. I am proud and pleased to have made a lifelong friend and mentor whom I can always call back on."

    Honours graduate, 2018


    "Honours year at UNSW Aviation essentially ties everything you've learned from the Bachelor of Aviation together. In addition, it allowed me to hone both my quantitative and qualitative skills in research, data analysis and report writing. This opened up opportunities for me in the industry and provided me with a solid foundation to kick start my career."

    Honours graduate, 2017


  • “The skills [developed by the Aviation Honours Program] are what we look for in graduates / candidates as almost every role.
    Skills such as problem solving, working in a team, collecting and analysing information, critical thinking, designing research to advance knowledge or address an issue, data analysis techniques and presenting information are particularly useful to strategic roles… where we’re… given a business/customer problem to solve. While time and project management are excellent general skills to have are there are always competing priorities that need to be managed and stakeholders to be managed.”

    Cathy Ma, Qantas


    “[The Aviation Honours Program is of] value in helping to deepen specific areas of knowledge and present as a bridge to the workforce and industry.”

    Nathan Miller, Qantas