Honours in Psychology Frequently Asked Questions


Information about the University’s response to COVID-19 and arrangements for students can be found at https://www.covid-19.unsw.edu.au/information-students.

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 student who completes an APAC-accredited undergraduate (or bridging) sequence in psychology at UNSW the year immediately prior to commencing Honours (including students enrolled in dual degrees with an embedded Honours year*).

For example: a student completing at any point during 2021 will be considered an internal applicant for the 2022 Honours year.

* Dual degree students in embedded Honours programs should check with their Program Authority when the Honours year can/should be taken, as dictated by the program structure.

An external applicant is anyone else.  This includes those who complete an APAC-accredited undergraduate (or bridging) sequence in psychology at another institution AND UNSW graduates who completed their program more than one year before they intend to commence Honours.

2. How do I find out about Honours in Psychology? (I, E)
Internal applicants:
Carefully review all the information available on the School’s Current Students Honours page.

External applicants: 
Carefully review all the information available on the School’s Future Students Honours page.

3. I am an external applicant.  What are the entry requirements for Honours in Psychology? (E)
The number of places available for external applicants (if any) varies from year to year and depends upon the number of eligible internal applicants and the availability of School resources.  The minimum eligibility requirement is to complete an APAC-accredited undergraduate (or bridging) sequence in psychology, with a Psychology WAM of 80 or better, within the last 10 years. Anyone with international psychology qualifications must have them assessed by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) prior to submitting an application.

4. I am an internal applicant.  What are the entry requirements for Honours in Psychology? (I)
The minimum eligibility requirement is to achieve a Psychology Average of at least 75 (see Question 5, below).

Undergraduate bridging sequence students must successfully complete all requirements of the UNSW Graduate Diploma in Psychology by the end of Session 6, and meet the Psychology Average requirement.

Bachelor degree students must meet the Psychology Average requirement and successfully complete Stages 1-3 of their degree and an accredited psychology major of at least 78 Units of Credit (UoC) of PSYC courses.

For more detail, please refer to the Detailed Honours Information document here.

5. How is the Psychology Average calculated? (I)
For undergraduate bridging sequence students the Psychology Average is calculated based on first attempt marks for all courses completed (i.e., from PSYC5001 to PSYC5010).

For Bachelor degree students the Psychology Average is calculated based on first attempt marks for psychology core courses common to all psychology programs / specialisations (see below); and the three highest first attempt marks of any completed Level 3 psychology electives.

Psychology core courses common to all psychology programs / specialisations: PSYC1001, PSYC1011, PSYC1111; PSYC2001, PSYC2061, PSYC2071, PSYC2081, PSYC2101; PSYC3001, PSYC3011.

Note: Courses that do not count towards the Psychology average include 1) Level 1 PSYC electives, 2) psychology courses taken at another institution, and 3) courses graded SY taken in Term 1 2020.

6. What Level 3 PSYC electives should I take in preparation for Honours? (I)
This question does not apply to Graduate Diploma students.

Bachelor degree students are encouraged to take as many Level 3 PSYC electives as possible.  The more Level 3 PSYC electives a student takes, the better prepared they will be for the Honours year.  Students are also encouraged to substitute Level 3 PSYC electives for free electives in their program.

7. How important is PSYC3371 Multivariate Data Analysis for Psychology for Honours? (I)
This question does not apply to Graduate Diploma students.

While it is not a compulsory course, completion of PSYC3371 Multivariate Data Analysis for Psychology, in conjunction with PSYC3001, is important as preparation for the Honours year, particularly for students planning undertaking an Honours project that will require the use of multivariate statistics.

The core course, PSYC3001, focuses on ANOVA models and provides a thorough coverage of statistical methods for analysing single dependent variable data from experimental designs. The elective, 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 different types of Honours projects.

PSYC3371 is listed as a Level 3 List A PSYC elective, but can be taken as a List B elective.

8. What happens if I don’t take PSYC3371? (I)
This question does not apply to Graduate Diploma students.

If you don’t take PSYC3371 you run the risk of lacking the statistical knowledge to analyse your Honours data adequately if you plan on undertaking an Honours project that will require the use of multivariate statistics.  Your supervisor will expect you to understand data analysis methods, and without PSYC3371 you may have to learn multivariate statistics on your own.

9. Can I complete Stage 3 over Summer? (I)
Where a student has a choice between completing at the end of Term 3 or over Summer, the School does not recommend the Summer option as the Honours year begins before Summer results are released.

Students who appear to have no choice but to complete Stage 3 of their program/the Science component of their dual program in Summer are advised to contact the School.

10. How do I apply for Honours? (I)
Regardless of the teaching period in which you complete your undergraduate (or bridging) sequence in psychology, the application process for all internal applicants is the same.  Please refer to the both the School and Faculty pages for details.

11. How should I pick my supervisor preferences and what factors should I consider? (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.

Internal applicants will be asked to nominate 10 supervisor preferences (from a list of around 35-40 available supervisors).  You should order your preferences to reflect who you would most like to work with.

12. What factors are considered when allocating supervisors to students? (I, E)
Factors that play a key role in allocating supervisors are:
• A student’s supervisor preferences;
• Supervisor availability (e.g., other supervision/work commitments leave); and
• A student’s academic strengths.

Supervisors are typically allocated 1-3 Honours students, and students should not assume they will be allocated to their first preference.

13. 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.

14. When do we find out who our supervisor is? (I, E)
Please review the timeline available in the School’s step-by-step guide to applying, available here.

15. When do I find out if I’ve been offered a place in Honours? (I, E)
Internal applicants:
Please review the timeline available in the School’s step-by-step guide to applying, available here.

External applicants:
Should the School have the supervisory capacity to accommodate any external applicants, they are likely to be contacted directly in late December or early January.

16. When does the Honours year begin? (I, E)
The Honours year begins in late January with a mandatory Orientation Meeting for all Honours students.  Those who may be travelling during the Summer break should plan accordingly and be back in Sydney in order to attend the meeting.  Details of the meeting will be supplied to successful applicants when they are advised of their application outcome. The meeting is usually held in the final week of January.

After a student attends the Orientation Meeting, they 1) will be able to self-enrol in their courses for the year, and 2) are expected to meet with their supervisor and begin planning their research project.

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

Internal applicants
Category A (as defined by the Faculty of Science)
An offer in one year is not an unconditional guarantee of admission in any subsequent year. Should a successful applicant decide to decline their place in the Honours year they may re-apply for any subsequent year but will be assessed as an external applicant. Eligibility requirements for external applicants are not the same as for internal applicants. Places for external applicants, if any, are subject to the availability of appropriate research and supervision resources and will be assessed on the basis of academic merit. More information about applying as an external applicant can be found here.

Category B (as defined by the Faculty of Science)
Single degree students are expected to undertake Honours directly after completion of Stages 1-3 of their embedded degree. Dual degree students may – with the approval of the non-Science Program Authority – undertake Honours at a later stage of their embedded degree, which may not necessarily be immediately after completion of Stages 1-3 of their Science component. Should a student wish to take a break from study before entering their Honours year, they will need to be transferred to the relevant pass degree, in order to graduate, and re-apply for the stand-alone, one-year Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) program when they are ready to resume

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

18. What happens if my Honours application is not successful? (I)
Category A
(as defined by the Faculty of Science)
Single degree students should be able to graduate as planned. Dual degree students should either be able to graduate as planned or continue to complete the non-Science component of their dual degree.

Category B (as defined by the Faculty of Science)
In order to graduate, single degree students will need to be transferred to the relevant three-year program. For example, if you are enrolled in 3632 BPsych(Hons) you will most likely be transferred to 3435 BPsychSc (similarly, BAdvSc(Hons) to BSc).

Completion of an Early Exit/Graduation Request webform may be required.

Dual degree students will likely need to be transferred to a relevant dual degree without an embedded Honours year and should contact their Program Authority for advice.

19. 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.

20. How will I be allocated to a class? (I, E)
Core component (centrally-timetabled lecture and tutorials)
After a student attends the Orientation meeting they will be able to self-enrol in their courses for the year.  For Terms 1 and 2 this will include class registration for their preferred tutorial.  Timetable information is available well before class registration opens, and tutorial capacity is capped, so students should identify their preferred tutorial and try to class register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Elective component (School-timetabled seminar)
Allocation to elective seminars is based on student preferences.
An elective timetable is created each term by the School based on the teaching availability of the Elective Coordinators.  The Term 1 elective timetable is typically released at the Honours Orientation Meeting, while the Term 2 elective timetable is released at the same time as the University timetable (go here and use the keyword ‘timetable’).  Students should keep in mind that the elective of their choice may not necessarily be offered at their preferred time.

21. 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. Examples of past electives include The Neurobiology of Obesity; More than Happy: The Psychological Science of Wellbeing; Associative Learning – Thinking Outside the (Skinner) Box.
 
22. 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.  Students attend 5 hours of mandatory classes each week during Terms 1 and 2 (see question 20, above), which tend to be spread out over several days.

Time spent on research varies from student to student.  Different stages of your project require differing levels of attention, and the type of project you are doing is also a factor.  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.

23. 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 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.

24. 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 identify your working style and how that fits with 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.

25. 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.

All scheduled classes are mandatory – lectures, tutorials, and elective seminars.  A work commitment is not considered a reasonable justification for missing a class and students should consider this carefully.

26. 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: August 2021