Student Life

The Bridge between Undergraduate and Postgraduate Studies: What is Honours?

Are you currently completing, or about to start, a three-year undergraduate degree? Are you thinking about postgraduate studies in the future, but not completely sure if you want to undertake a career in research?

Completing an Honours degree might be the right choice for you!

What is an Honours degree?

Honours is offered to students who demonstrate academic success in their undergraduate course, as a means for extension and guided experimentation in the world of research.

Study at Honours level includes both coursework and research. Although it can vary between universities and disciplines, students normally complete at least one course on research skills and methodology.

The University of Sydney website states it best: ‘Undertaking an Honours year will allow you to get your first real glimpse of what being an academic involves’. Honours provides the perfect opportunity for an undergraduate student to engage in specialist research in their field.

Honours is usually one add-on year to an undergraduate degree. During this time, a student works closely with a supervisor to produce a research thesis. In some cases, Honours can be integrated into a bachelor degree and, granted you’re willing to overload a few semesters, can be completed without an additional year at university.

It is important to note that in some fields, such as psychology, you must complete an Honours degree in order to practice. Completing only the undergraduate degree doesn’t give you the qualifications needed.

Why Should I Consider Honours?

There are a few reasons why a student might consider Honours.

First, study at this level is incredibly rewarding for undergraduates who have a desire to complete postgraduate studies one day. It’s not only an opportunity to network with experts in your field, but to be mentored by one too! You will learn inside knowledge on how research is conducted and how academics produce peer-reviewed publications.

Additionally, the successful completion of an Honours degree can lead to opportunities in further postgraduate studies. Honours can become a launching pad for your research career; sometimes an Honours research project or topic can sometimes have the potential to be expanded for Masters of PhD level degrees.

You will graduate with specialised knowledge in your field. As a result, Honours can give you a leg up over all the other undergraduates competing for jobs. The skills you have honed throughout completion of your Honours, such as critical thinking, working to a deadline and applying constructive criticism, make you very employable!

Finally, there is a bit of a thrill in having your work published. Your Honours supervisor can work with you to have your thesis published in a peer-reviewed journal. You will also need to have your completed thesis bound and it will then be stored in your university library too!

Ultimately, Honours gives you a taste of the academic world, without requiring you to sign up for the much longer term commitment of a Masters or PhD qualification.

How Do I Cover the Costs of my Honours Research?

Academics fund their research through grants and scholarships. If you decide to undertake Honours, there is no reason you shouldn’t too.

Capstone Editing offers one grant every year for an Honours student: The Capstone Editing Research Scholarship for Honours Students. This scholarship provides its recipient with up to $3,000 to assist with the any of the costs that come with conducting research.

The Capstone Editing grant provides Honours students with the opportunity to submit a funding proposal, something one must become skilled in if one wishes to undertake further postgraduate studies! To be successful, applicants must outline their research-related costs, for example, the cost of textbooks, participation at a conference, or the purchase of a computer.

For those interested in a research career, or considering postgraduate studies, Honours is a great opportunity. The one-year add-on course can provide an insight into the world of academic research and writing, give you access to expert contacts in your field, and prepare you for the challenges of postgraduate studies.

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