Honours in Psychology Frequently Asked Questions

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:

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 Honours*).

For example: a student completing at any point during 2020 will be considered an internal applicant for the 2021 Honours year.

* These students may not necessarily start Honours immediately after completion of their undergraduate psychology sequence, as governed by their program structure; they will still be considered internal applicants.

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 – http://www.psy.unsw.edu.au/current-students/undergraduate/honours.

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

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 requirement for eligibility to apply for the Honours year 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 requirement for eligibility for entry into the Honours year is to achieve a Psychology Average of at least 75 (see next question for how this is calculated).

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 Honours Information document at https://www.psy.unsw.edu.au/current-students/undergraduate/honours.

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 undergraduate sequence 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: Neither Level 1 PSYC electives nor psychology courses taken at another institution count towards the Psychology Average.

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.

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 have an understanding of 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.

A student may be permitted to enrol in 6 UoC (non-PSYC) in Summer term in order to complete Stage 3 and there is no other option, but must contact the School (via the Ask a Question web form) for approval.

10. How do I apply for Honours? (I)
Regardless of the term in which you complete your undergraduate sequence in psychology, the application process for all internal applicants is the same.  Please refer to http://www.psy.unsw.edu.au/current-students/undergraduate/honours.

11. 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 around 35-40 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.

12. What factors are taken into account when allocating supervisors to students? (I, E)
Allocating supervisors to students is a complex process that considers a number of variables.  We aim for a fair and equitable process and to achieve the best match between student and supervisor, but there is always a random component to the allocation process which cannot be avoided.  Most supervisors are allocated 1-3 Honours students.

Students should not assume that they will be able to work with the supervisor of their choice.

Factors that play the most important 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.

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)
Successful applicants should be advised by the School at some point between late December and early January (see question 15, below).

15. When do I find out if I’ve been offered a place in Honours? (I, E)
Internal applicants:
Applicants should expect to receive an email shortly after Term 3 results are released which will confirm whether or not their Honours application was successful.  For successful applicants, this email will include supervisor details and information about the mandatory Orientation Meeting.

External applicants:
If the School has resources available to accommodate external applicants, any eligible external applicants will be contacted directly by the School only once the number of successful internal applicants is known (see above).

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.  The specific time and location of the meeting will be published on the School website once known.

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

Students applying for 4518
If a student is unable to accept their offer, they may re-apply as an external applicant for the following year.  Eligibility requirements for external applicants are not the same as for internal applicants (see question 3, above).  Offers made to external applicants, if any, are assessed on the basis of academic merit and are subject to appropriate research and supervision resources being available. More information about admission as an external applicant can be found at https://www.psy.unsw.edu.au/future-students/undergraduate/programs/honours.

Students in a four-year embedded Honours program
Students are encouraged to complete Honours the year immediately following completion of Stages 1-3 of their degree.  A guarantee of admission in one year is not an unconditional guarantee of admission in any subsequent year, should a student wish to take time off.  Permission to take leave before commencing the Honours year will be at the discretion of the School, and may be granted only in exceptional circumstances.  Otherwise, a student will be asked to transfer to the relevant three-year degree**—in order to graduate—and will need to apply for admission to 4518 when they are ready.

** 3435 BPsychSc for 3632 BPsych (Hons) students, or 3970 BSc for 3962 AdvSc (Hons) students.

Students in dual degree with Honours
Students are encouraged to seek advice from their Program Authority as to how the Honours year fits in with their program structure.  The most important consideration, from the School’s perspective, is that the requirements of Stages 1-3 of the Science component of the dual degree are complete.

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)

Three-year degree students
Nothing.  You will be able to graduate as planned.

Dual degree without Honours students
Nothing.  Either you should be able to graduate as planned, or you will continue to complete the non-Science component of your dual degree.

Embedded fourth year Honours students
In order to graduate, you will need to be transferred to a relevant three-year program.  For example, if you are enrolled in 3632 BPsych (Hons) you will most likely be transferred to 3435 BPsychSc.  Similarly, if you are enrolled in 3962 BAdvSc (Hons) you will most likely be transferred to 3970 BSc.

Please contact your Program Authority and state that you have not qualified for the Honours year and wish to graduate, and therefore must be transferred to their relevant three-year program.

Dual degree with Honours students
Please contact your 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 to https://student.unsw.edu.au/dates 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.
 
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 semester (see question 20, above), which tend to be spread out over several days as dictated by the centrally-managed timetable.
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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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: March 2020