Honours in Psychology Frequently Asked Questions (2019)

Questions marked with an ‘I’ are relevant to internal applicants, those marked with an ‘E’ are relevant to external applicants.

1. What is the difference between an internal applicant and an external applicant? (I, E)
An internal applicant is:

A) a UNSW student due to complete their three-year undergraduate degree in S2 2018; or

B) a UNSW student due to complete the fourth year of their six-year Psychology (Honours) / Law degree in S2 2018; or

C) an applicant that will complete/completed their undergraduate UNSW degree in S1 2018.

An external applicant is anyone else.  This includes those completing (or who will complete) an accredited undergraduate sequence in psychology (Bachelor degree or Graduate Diploma) at another university, as well as UNSW graduates who completed their undergraduate degree earlier than 2018.

2. How do I find out about Honours in Psychology? (I, E)
Internal applicants:
Carefully review the information available on the right-hand side of the School’s Current Students website – http://www.psy.unsw.edu.au/current-students/undergraduate/honours.

External applicants:
Carefully review the information available on the School’s Future Students website – http://www.psy.unsw.edu.au/future-students/undergraduate/programs/honours.

3. What Level 3 PSYC electives should I take in preparation for Honours? (I)
As many as you can.  The more Level 3 PSYC electives you take, the better prepared you will be for your Honours year.  In particular, you are strongly advised to take PSYC3371 Multivariate Data Analysis for Psychology.  You are also encouraged to substitute Level 3 PSYC electives for free electives in your program.

4. How important is PSYC3371 Multivariate Data Analysis for Psychology for Honours? (I)
Very.  Prospective Honours students are strongly advised to take PSYC3371 Multivariate Data Analysis for Psychology, as it complements PSYC3001.  PSYC3001 focuses on ANOVA models and provides a thorough coverage of statistical methods for analysing single dependent variable data from experimental designs.  PSYC3371 focusses on Multiple Regression models and provides an extensive coverage of statistical methods for analysing data from non-experimental designs, and experimental designs with multiple dependent measures.  Together, these two courses provide a solid foundation for analysing data for Honours projects.  PSYC3371 is listed as a Level 3 Stream A PSYC elective, but can be taken as a Stream B elective.

5. What happens if I don’t take PSYC3371? (I)
If you don’t take PSYC3371, you run the risk of lacking the statistical knowledge to analyse your Honours data adequately.  Further, you will be restricted in your understanding of journal articles and findings.  Your supervisor will expect you to have a broad understanding of data analysis methods and without PSYC3371 you may have to learn advanced data analysis methods on your own.  Learning about new statistical methods on your own is no match for learning about them within a structured course.

6. What if I get a low mark for PSYC3371, will this impact by eligibility for Honours? (I)
You need to pass PSYC3371 to be eligible for Honours.  Your mark for PSYC3371 will not impact the calculation of the Psychology Average provided you have higher marks for another 18 UoC of Level 3 PSYC electives.

7. I am an external applicant.  What are the entry requirements for Honours in Psychology? (E)
There is no set entry requirement, as specified by WAM or GPA, which will guarantee you admission to Honours.  Places are offered on the basis of merit, and only external applicants with an outstanding undergraduate psychology record will be considered.  As for what is meant by ‘outstanding’, where offers have been made to external applicants in the past, their average psychology marks have typically been at distinction through to high distinction level.
Offers of admission (if any) are made after the School finalises Honours places for eligible internal applicants, and the number of places available also depends upon the availability of School resources.  Therefore, the number of places available for external applicants (if any) does vary year-to-year.

8. I am an internal applicant.  What are the entry requirements for Honours in Psychology? (I)
First, you must have completed all Stage 1-3 requirements of your program (or the Science component of a dual award degree, e.g., BPsych(Hons)/Law) at the end of S1 2018 or S2 2018.  In exceptional circumstances, and with permission, the School may allow you to complete your final 6 UoC (non-PSYC) over the 2019 Summer Term.

Second, you must achieve a Psychology Average of at least 75% (see question 9, below).

9. How is the Psychology Average calculated? (I)
The Psychology Average is the unweighted average of:
• marks for psychology core courses common to all psychology programs / plans (see below); and
• the three highest of marks for all Level 3 psychology elective courses ever attempted.
The psychology core courses are as follows:
Level 1
• PSYC1001 Psychology 1A
• PSYC1011 Psychology 1B
• PSYC1111 Measuring Mind and Behaviour
Level 2
• PSYC2001 Research Methods 2
• PSYC2061 Social and Developmental Psychology
• PSYC2071 Perception and Cognition
• PSYC2081 Learning and Physiological Psychology
• PSYC2101 Assessment, Personality and Psychopathology
Level 3
• PSYC3001 Research Methods 3
• PSYC3011 Research and Applications of Psychology

Note that:
(i) Only PSYC courses taken at UNSW count towards the Psychology Average.  Psychology courses taken at another university (including those taken while on exchange) do not count towards the Psychology Average.
(ii) Level 1 PSYC electives do not count towards the Psychology Average.
(iii) The Psychology Average is based on a student’s first attempt at a course, unless there were special circumstances which justify including the mark from the second attempt.  In such cases, students should set out these circumstances in a letter to the Honours Coordinators at the time of application.
(iv) Students wishing to undertake Honours should complete PSYC3371 Multivariate Data Analysis for Psychology as a Level 3 PSYC elective.  It can be taken as a Stream A or Stream B elective.  Completion of this course, in conjunction with PSYC3001, is important as preparation for the Honours year.

10. How do I apply for Honours if I complete Stage 3 in S1 2018? (I)
Check the School’s website (http://www.psy.unsw.edu.au/current-students/undergraduate/honours), which includes application instructions for both continuing and completed students.
If you are enrolled in a 4-year program, where the Honours year is embedded (e.g., 3632 BPsych(Hons)), and complete all your Stage 3 requirements in S1 2018, you will be required to take Program Leave in S2 2018.  You should contact the School Office if you have any questions.

11. Can I complete Stage 3 over Summer? (I)
You must have completed all your psychology major requirements by the end of S2 2018.  Further, it is preferable that you have completed all Stages 1-3 degree requirements (i.e., all free electives and General Education (where applicable)) by the end of S2 2018.
In exceptional circumstances, and with permission, the School may allow you to complete your final 6 UoC (non-PSYC) over Summer, but you should not consider this an acceptable practice because the Honours year begins before Summer Term ends.

12. What if my Psychology Average is between 70 and 75, am I still eligible for Honours? (I)
If your Psychology Average falls between 70 and 75, you may still be offered a place in Honours, at the discretion of the Honours Committee.
Factors that increase the likelihood of a place in Honours are: (i) a pass mark or higher for PSYC3371; (ii) a Psychology Average closer to 75 than 70; and (iii) higher performance for Level 3 PSYC courses than for Level 1 and Level 2 PSYC courses. Your progression history, including special consideration, across Stages 1-3 is also taken into account.

Students with a Psychology Average between 70 and 75 are competing against external applicants, many of whom have outstanding academic records.  The number of places available to internal applicants within this range depends upon the number of potential Honours students with a Psychology Average of 75 or higher, as well as the number of exceptional external applicants.

13. How should I pick my supervisor preferences and what factors should I take into account? (I, E)
There is no clear answer to this question.  You should not choose your preferences with the expectation of being supervised by a particular member of staff.  Your supervisor preferences should be guided by your interest in different areas of psychology and the type of research projects that different supervisors are willing to supervise.  You are encouraged to meet with potential supervisors to learn more about their research interests, supervising style, and their availability.

You will be asked to nominate 10 supervisor preferences (from a list of about 30-35 available supervisors).  You should order your preferences to reflect who you would most like to work with – don’t nominate someone that you don’t want to work with!  You are guaranteed to be allocated to one of your 10 preferences, so you should be prepared to work with any of those that you nominate.

14. What factors are taken into account when allocating supervisors to students? (I, E)
The Honours Coordinators allocate students to supervisors.  The primary factor governing the allocation is student preferences, but other factors also come into play (e.g., academic workload for supervisors).  The primary aim of the allocation process is to obtain the best match between student and supervisor, whilst allocating as widely as possible across the list of potential supervisors.  Most supervisors are allocated 1-3 Honours students.  In order to maintain fairness, supervisors cannot make requests for individual students.

15. Can I meet with a supervisor before selection and discuss wanting to be in their lab? (I, E)
Yes, you are encouraged to talk with supervisors to find out more about their research.  As supervisors cannot make requests for individual students, meeting with your potential supervisors is more for your own benefit – to inform the nomination of your preferences.

16. When do we find out who our supervisor is? (I, E)
In mid-December, in an email from the School (see question 17, below).

17. When do I find out if I’ve been offered a place in Honours? (I, E)
Internal applicants:
The School will send emails to all applicants in approximately mid-December confirming whether or not their application for Honours was successful.
The email to successful applicants (“offer of admission email”) will confirm the student’s supervisor, as well as information regarding the compulsory Honours Orientation meeting (see question 18, below).

External applicants:
Once the number of successful internal applicants is known (see above), shortlisting of external applicants will take place.  Shortlisted applicants will be asked by email to nominate their supervisor preferences.  Supervisor allocations will be made based on preferences and the availability of School resources.
Shortly thereafter, the School will send emails to all shortlisted applicants indicating whether or not their Honours application was successful.  The email to successful applicants (“offer of admission email”) will confirm the student’s supervisor, as well as information regarding the compulsory Honours Orientation meeting (see question 18, below).

18. When does the Honours year begin? (I, E)
The Honours year officially begins with a compulsory Honours Orientation Meeting, typically held in late January.  At this meeting, students will be given important information about the Honours year, and are expected to begin talks with their supervisor around this time.  Meeting details will be emailed by the School as part of the offer of admission email.

Attendance at the Honours Orientation Meeting is mandatory, and a student’s enrolment is contingent on their attendance.  All attending students will be manually enrolled in their Honours courses, by the School, within a day or two of the meeting.  Those that do not attend the meeting will not be enrolled.

19. Can I defer my offer for Honours? (I, E)
No, it is not possible to defer your offer for Honours.

Internal applicants:
Your offer will only be valid for the year immediately following completion of your Stage 3 requirements (i.e., complete third year in 2018 and begin Honours in 2019).  Those who will complete Stage 3 at the end 2018, and intend to undertake Honours in 2020, must apply as an external applicant (in 2019) for admission to Honours in 2020.

External applicants:
Successful admission in one year does not guarantee successful admission in any subsequent year.  Admission is based on merit and availability of School resources in the given application round.

20. How many courses will I take each term? (I, E)
Coursework consists of PSYC4093 Psychology 4A (12 UOC) in Term 1, and PSYC4103 Psychology 4B (6 UOC) in Term 2, with each course comprising a core and elective component.  Core content has traditionally been delivered via one two-hour lecture and a one-hour tutorial per week, and elective content – on an advanced topic in psychology – via a two-hour weekly seminar.
Your thesis courses will span the entire year, and you will take PSYC4072 Honours Research Project 6 UOC in Term 1, PSYC4073 Honours Research Project 12 UOC in Term 2, and PSYC4073 Honours Research Project 12 UOC again in Term 3.

21. How will I be allocated to a class? (I, E)
Allocation to core tutorial classes is made randomly by the School.  Allocation to elective seminars is based on student preferences.

22. What are the electives? When do I choose them? Is there a course outline? (I, E)
Elective topics vary from year to year, but each will consider an advanced topic in psychology.  At the Honours Orientation Meeting in January, you will be provided with a description of the elective offerings available in each term, and asked to submit your preferences.  Your elective coordinator will provide you with a full course outline at the start of the term.
 
23. How many contact hours are there per week in the Honours program? How much time is spent on coursework and how much is spent on the thesis? (I, E)
Contact hours will depend on your project and vary over time.  In 2018, all students attend 5 hours of mandatory classes each week during semester (see question 20, above), and the coursework schedule for 2019 is likely to be the same.  Classes tend to be spread out over several days, as dictated by the centrally-managed timetable.
Time spent on the thesis varies from student to student.  Different stages of your project require differing levels of attention, and the type of project you are doing also has an impact.  For example, if you are running rat experiments you will most likely have to come in on consecutive days during that period.  It would be reasonable to expect that you will be required on campus most days of the working week, if not every day.

24. How many hours of non-contact study is expected? (I, E)
The Honours year is a full-time program.  Even though there may be fewer class contact hours than you experienced during your in undergraduate years, you should think of Honours as a full-time job.  You should expect to spend about 10-15 hours per week in independent study for the coursework component, and about 20 hours per week for the research component.

25. What is expected of me in terms of my level of independence? (I, E)
The ability to work independently is critical.  Regardless of how closely your supervisor works with you on your Honours project, you will be expected to carry out many aspects of the project by yourself.  Being independent is a skill that you will become more familiar with throughout the year as you work out what your working style is and how that fits into your supervisor’s working style.  You are the one responsible for meeting deadlines and making sure you know the ins and outs of your project.

26. Am I able to work part-time during Honours? (I, E)
You are advised not to take on outside work while enrolled in Honours.  At most, you should limit outside work to one day per week because outside work commitments can interfere with meeting the demands of the Honours program.  In any case, if you plan to undertake outside work you should discuss these commitments with your supervisor and with the Honours Coordinators (if necessary) at the start of the year.

27. What is expected of me in the term breaks? (I, E)
Depending upon the nature of your project and any participants, you may be able to carry out your data collection.  In any case, even though there are no class requirements, most students find that they use the breaks between teaching periods to continue working on their Honours project and thesis.

Information current at: June 2018