Studying honours gives you the chance to develop your research and professional skills in a specialised area. It represents the highest level of training in an undergraduate degree within the Australian tertiary education system. Honours is an extra year of study that combines aspects of undergraduate study with those of postgraduate research.

Honours introduces advanced research training through the completion of a thesis or a creative or practice-based research project. Throughout your study, you’ll be guided by staff who are passionate about research and the development of new researchers. An honours year provides the satisfaction of advanced study, a close supervision relationship with an academic, the ability to engage in specialised research and enhanced job opportunities upon graduation.

Why study honours?

Undertaking an honours year allows you to get your first real glimpse of what’s involved in being an academic. You’ll have the opportunity to devise your own thesis/research project and conduct an original investigation, analysis and reporting to complete your project.

Completing an honours degree brings many rewards, including:

  • obtaining a much deeper understanding of your academic discipline
  • working one-on-one with your supervisor and receiving instruction on the finer points of reading, writing and critical thinking
  • developing a sense of collegiality with a select group of Honours students who will be your peers and with whom you will share all the excitement, interests, aspirations, and insights that come with an intensive period of study.

At UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, the following disciplines can be combined with honours:

  • biological science
  • botany
  • ecology
  • environmental science
  • human or physical geography
  • geography
  • geology
  • marine science
  • zoology.

What our graduates say  

"Our recent graduates consistently reveal that the employment prospects of honours graduates are markedly superior to those with pass degrees, which suggests that employers, including those outside the biological field, value the extra training of the honours year."


Honours is a pathway to a postgraduate research degree such as a Masters by Research or a PhD. Studying honours is available to students who’ve attained a specific level of academic achievement in a particular program of study.

The general entry requirements into honours include the following:

  • you have been accepted by a supervisor
  • you have completed at least 144 UOC
  • you have Minimum credit (65) weighted average mark (WAM) for overall degree
  • you have completed the 12 UOC General Education requirement
  • you have satisfied the requirements of the program/plan in which you are enrolled.

If you have any unresolved WD, WC or NC grades, it’s your responsibility to sort these out with the relevant course coordinator and communicate this to your prospective supervisor and honours coordinator.

Honours assessment weighting

Assessment item Value (%)
Paper-based on research project (8,000 words*) 82.5
Project proposal (4,500 words*) 12.5
Final seminar and interview 5.0
Weighted total 100

Notes: *These are absolute maxima and apply to all projects.


How to join

Considering BEES Honours? A good place to start is by reading through the application process and seeing what’s involved. Find out how to get started with our step-by-step guide.

Honours projects

There is a broad range of honours projects to ignite your interest, from plant ecology to paleo (and everything in between). Explore available projects and find contact details for the academics leading them.