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 Tay T.R. Koo

Honours research supervisors and research areas

Specialisation is encouraged in the areas of aviation safety and human factors, commercial airline management (including finance and economics) and aviation meteorology. 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 or suggested topics include:

    • Reporting of aviation crashes in Australian newspapers.
    • Airline safety in the age of social media.
    • The analysis of digital flight data to monitor the performance of flying students.
    • Trends and characteristic s of runway incursions in Australia. Analysis of ATSB aviation safety investigations and reports.
    • 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 or suggested topics include:

    • Driving home drowsy: drowsiness on commuter trips.
    • Validation of selection tests for trainee pilots.
    • Assessing safety knowledge, skills and competencies in management.
    • Assessing the validity of trainee Pilot selection tests.
    • Methods for providing feedback on trainee pilot visual scanning.
    • Driver distraction from smartphone use, including voice control activation.
    • Driver drowsiness on short commuter trips.
    • Reliability and usability of methods for understanding complex systems and incidents (eg., FRAM).
    • Evaluating methods for error and incident classification. 
    • 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 or suggested topics include:

    • Modelling sustainable air travel choices and practices by consumers of aviation.
    • Methods and tools for mapping spatial and temporal dynamics of the air transport-tourism system.
    • Commercial, recreational, research-based airborne drone management, policy, and governance.
    • Research methods in air route development for stakeholders such as airports and tourism.
  • Areas of research: aerospace engineering; mechanical engineering; logistics and supply chain management

    Tel: +61 2 9385 6767

    Recent or suggested topics include:

    • Intelligent cooperation in the aviation industry.
    • The utilisation of automated guided vehicles in baggage handling systems.
    • The impact of alternative taxi procedures on the emission of CO2 at SYD.
    • The frontport concept: establishing a link between Sydney’s CBS and SYD.
    • The last mile logistics; utilising drone in Sydney’s CBD.
    • Optimising the storage procedure in an early baggage storage.
  • 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 or suggested topics include:

    • Using EEG spectral components to assess the fatiguing effect of aircraft noise.
    • Effect of tone of feedback on the performance of student pilots.
    • Effect of visual and auditory feedback on student pilots’ learning outcome.
    • Investigating predictors of risk in the general population and the pilot population.
    • Passenger attention during in-flight safety video.
    • Pilot psychology: health and wellbeing.
  • Areas of research: airline fuel and FX hedging; airport finance; airline finance; airline revenue forecasting and yield modelling; aircraft configuration; passenger forecasting; route profitability modelling

    Tel: +61 2 9385 7186

    Recent or suggested topics include:

    • A critical assessment of the Virgin Australia Game Change Strategy.
    • Towards an understanding of the trend reduction in reliability rates on key Australian domestic routes.
    • An analysis of the impact of market share targeting on airline profitability in the Australian domestic market.
    • Estimating the price elasticity of demand for domestic air travel through the cross-sectional impact of sector length on demand.
    • An examination of the J-curve Hypothesis in a tourism context: The case of inbound and outbound tourism in the Australia-Japan market.
    • Estimating the elasticity of yield to domestic capacity and the bend in the medium run airline revenue curve: The case of Qantas in the domestic market.
    • The role of the Australian dollar in causing switch between domestic and overseas holidays.
  • Areas of research: airline management/performance

    Tel: +61 2 9385 4191

    Recent or suggested topics include:

    • 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.

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