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These guidelines are governed by the Structuring Coursework Programs Policy and the Academic Regulations.

These Guidelines provide the basis for structuring Bachelor Honours programs and the general conditions for their award.

These Guidelines apply to:

  1. Honours (End-on) programs undertaken after completion of an appropriate undergraduate Bachelor's degree;
  2. Honours (Embedded) programs embedded in the third and fourth year of study at Bachelor level; and
  3. the Graduate Diploma in Psychology thesis.

Honours Thesis means the output of research undertaken and may be:

  1. wholly in written form; or
  2. creative work in the form of a composition, performance, exhibition or other approved work accompanied by a written critical analysis or exposition.

5.1 Minimum Admission Requirements

To be eligible for entry to an Honours program a student must have:

  1. a minimum GPA of 5.5; and
  2. satisfy the requirements set out in the relevant course rules.

5.2 Approval for Proposed Area of Study

Offers of admission to a Bachelor Honours course will:

  1. require the approval of the National Head of School or nominee; and
  2. will only be made where the student's proposed area of study aligns with a demonstrated capacity for Honours research and supervision within the School; and
  3. will be subject to Section 8 of the Admission to Coursework Programs Policy.

Honours programs at ACU will be a minimum of 80 credit points comprising:

  1. a research methodology coursework component which will be a minimum of 10 cp at 400-level;
  2. a research project unit or units resulting in resulting in the production of an Honours Thesis which will constitute a minimum of 30 cp; and
  3. the remainder made up of advanced coursework and/or professional training at 400-level.

6.1 Learning Outcomes

Characteristics of learning outcomes in Honours programs include:

  1. a knowledge and application of research skills, methodology and technology and a capacity to conduct independent, self-directed research as well as to contribute effectively to research teams;
  2. advanced conceptual and critical analysis skills and further development and consolidation of cumulative, sequential specialist/discipline knowledge or initial engagement with a new area of knowledge at the cutting edge of research;
  3. a capacity for critical identification of problems requiring research and to develop appropriate solutions/methodology to collect, analyse and interpret data; and
  4. a capacity to complete, to a high standard, a thesis with a significant component of research.

The research component, in whatever form it takes, must be compliant with AQF Level 8 Specifications. At a minimum, it must comprise the following:

  1. a research proposal;
  2. a review of the literature or of previous creative material in the field;
  3. a description of relevant research methodology; and
  4. a record of the outcomes of the research.

7.1 Honours Thesis

The Honours Thesis is typically one of the following as determined by the discipline:

  1. a manuscript between 12,000 and 15,000 words including footnotes, but excluding bibliography; or
  2. a creative work (composition, performance, exhibition or other approved work), accompanied by an critical analysis and exposition of 5,000 – 7,500 words; or
  3. a wholly authored or significant contribution to a research article, suitable for submission to a journal with the word length dependent on the requirements of the specific journal accompanied by a literature review and an expanded methods section or discussion of methodology of 5,000 – 7,500 words.

8.1 Appointment of Supervisors

The principal supervisor will be an ACU academic staff member appointed by the National Head of School or nominee. A co-supervisor may also be appointed.

The academic staff involved in supervising Honours students will hold at least a Masters Degree, be active researchers and/or demonstrate a track record of effective supervision of Honours students as confirmed by Honours completions at ACU or elsewhere.

Involvement in supervision by qualified non-academics, for example from industry, may be appropriate as co-supervisor.

8.2 Procedures for Supervisors

The supervision of students enrolled in honours programs will be conducted in a manner consistent with the best practice and expectations of quality supervision outlined in the Higher Degree Research Supervision Policy.

8.3 Induction to Research

The principal supervisor will provide students with an induction to relevant policies for the conduct of their research. This should be inclusive of each of the matters in Section 9 of these Guidelines.

9.1 Research environment

Students will be provided with a collegial and productive learning environment, including a coordinated program of activity to integrate them into the learning environment.

9.2 Academic Integrity

All students must familiarise themselves with the Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy prior to commending their program.

9.3 Research Code of Conduct

All students undertaking the research component within an Honours program are required to comply with the Research Code of Conduct. Where appropriate, students must obtain ethics clearance prior to commencing their program.

9.4 Ownership of Intellectual Property

All students undertaking a research component within an Honours program are required to comply with the ACU Intellectual Property Policy prior to commencing any data collection.

9.5 Research Progress

Schools will monitor the student's performance through a structured process and will provide regular and systematic feedback to students on their progress and performance.

9.6 Presentation of Research

Students will be required to present their research and scholarship as determined by the School.

10.1 Coursework

Assessment of coursework in Honours programs will be conducted in accordance with the Assessment Policy and Procedures.

10.2 Criteria for Assessment of Honours Thesis

Faculties will develop explicit criteria for the assessment of each Honours program. Such criteria will include expected standards of performance for each Honours classification. These criteria will address but not be limited to:

  1. clarity of the aims and the demonstrated significance of the research;
  2. breadth and depth of the survey of relevant literature and evidence of appropriate critical understandings;
  3. design and use of appropriate methodology to provide relevant insights and/or data, or clear conception of form, structures and processes associated with creative practice;
  4. demonstration of critical analysis and perceptive scholarship to draw conclusions, or evidence of technical ability, facility with craft and critical awareness of relevant issues of aesthetics;
  5. evidence of research and theory-led studio practice for creative works;
  6. accuracy and clarity of the presentation of the thesis.
  7. All students and examiners will be provided with a clear statement of the criteria and standards.

10.3 Record Keeping

The National Head of School or nominee will maintain written records of the criteria used for grading Honours students' performance to facilitate comparability from year to year.

Written records of the process followed in determining final grades for students will be maintained.

11.1 Format

The Honours Thesis will follow the discourse conventions of research in the discipline, however the typical structure will normally be as follows:

  1. Preliminary information
    1. Title page
    2. Author declaration
    3. Abstract of no more than 500 words
    4. Table of contents
    5. List of all illustrations and diagrams
  2. Body of the thesis
    1. Review of the literature: systematic or narrative review, depending on the nature of the thesis
    2. A description of relevant research methodology
    3. The outcomes of the research
  3. Appendices

11.2 Submission

The Honours thesis should follow the typical structure and must:

  1. be submitted electronically including a digital copy or recording of any creative work;
  2. include bound copy(ies) where required by the School; and
  3. be submitted to a deadline determined so that results will normally be finalised to enable students to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA).

11.3 Requests for Extension

An Honours student may apply to the National Head of School or nominee for an extension to the submission date of an Honours thesis. The maximum extension which may be granted is 6 months. Requests for extension must be:

  1. made on or before the due date for submission, and
  2. must demonstrate exceptional circumstances which warrant the granting of an extension.

Honours theses submitted after the due, or approved extended, date will incur for each whole or part of a day that the work is overdue, a 5% penalty of the maximum marks available up to a maximum of 15%. An honours thesis received more than five working days after the due or extended date will not be allocated a mark.

12.1 Appointment of Examiners

Every Honours thesis will be examined by two examiners appointed by the National Head of School or nominee. This may include one internal and one external examiner and will exclude the student's supervisor(s).

12.2 Assessment Framework for the Honours Thesis

Each examiner will be requested to provide a grade and numerical mark for the Honours Thesis, which will be calculated in accordance with the following:

Grade Numerical marks Explanation
HD 85-100 Work of exceptional quality showing clear understanding of subject matter and appreciation of issues; well formulated; arguments clearly developed and sustained; relevant literature referenced; marked evidence of creative ability and high level of intellectual work. The thesis suggests excellent potential for future research work.
DI 75-84 Work of high quality showing strong grasp of subject matter and appreciation of dominant issues; arguments clearly developed; relevant literature referenced; evidence of creative ability. The thesis suggests high potential for future research work.
CR 65-74 Work showing competent understanding of subject matter and appreciation of main issues; arguments developed and supported by references; some evidence of creative ability; well prepared and presented. The thesis suggests some potential for future research work.


50-64 Adequate, but lacking breadth and depth; work generally has gaps; frequently work of this grade takes a simple factual approach and does not attempt to interpret the findings; at the lower end, indicates a need for considerable effort to achieve improvement. The thesis suggests limited potential for future research work.


0-49 Unsatisfactory; demonstrates lack of understanding of the topic and inadequacy in degree of relevance and/or completeness. The thesis does not suggest potential for future research work.

12.3 Examiners' Reports

The examiners will examine the Honours thesis and make separate reports which will be submitted for consideration to the National Head of School or nominee. Each examiner's report will include a recommendation that the student:

  1. has met the Honours thesis requirements and has passed outright; or
  2. has passed the Honours thesis requirements, subject to minor changes, as recommended in the examiners' reports, being made to the satisfaction of the National Head of School or nominee acting on the advice of the supervisor; or
  3. be permitted to revise and resubmit the Honours thesis within an appropriate timeframe of no more than one semester full-time or equivalent part-time, as determined by the National Head of School or nominee, in consultation with the supervisor and in accordance with Section 12.6; or
  4. has failed to meet the Honours thesis requirements.

12.4 Resolution of Significant Differences in Thesis Marks

In the case of examiners awarding the Honours thesis marks that are more than 15 apart, the National Head of School or nominee will appoint an external adjudicator who may not be a person who has been involved in the supervision or examination of the thesis.

The adjudicator will be provided with the examiners' reports and the thesis and will recommend a mark based on the examiners' reports and the thesis.

The adjudicator's mark is final.

12.5 Allocation of the Grade for the Honours Thesis

The Honours thesis will be graded as submitted for examination and not on the basis of a version produced after revisions have been made in the light of examiners' comments.

Normally the grade of the Honours thesis will be calculated on the basis of the average of the marks awarded by the examiners, unless an adjudicator's mark has been allocated.

12.6 Revision and Resubmission

The conditions for the revision and submission of a thesis are:

  1. The re-submitted thesis will be re-marked by the examiner who requested the revision.
  2. Any student who is permitted to resubmit a thesis will not be awarded a class of honours higher than Third Class.
  3. No student will be permitted to submit the thesis for a third time.

The final Honours grade will be:

  1. calculated as the average of the marks obtained by the student in all units contributing to the honours program, including any approved cross-institutional units, weighted by the credit point value of each unit; and
  2. awarded in accordance with the table of Grading Codes contained in the Academic Regulations.

The right of review and appeal against a decision under these guidelines will be in accordance with the Student Appeals Policy.

Date Major, Minor or Editorial Description of Revision(s)
27 November 2019 Minor Amended minimum GPA and admissions wording following review

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