Honours Study in Psychology

The Honours program at ANU is completed over two semesters (one academic year - full time). Honours aims to build on the knowledge and skills that students have learned in their undergraduate career. In doing so, Honours both continues and rounds out a process begun in the study of psychology at an undergraduate level. However, Honours is much more than this. It is a time of social, professional and intellectual development in which students become better acquainted with some of the central features of academic life: seminars, workshops, presentation of work to colleagues, research design and communication of scientific findings.

Accordingly, students are generally given much more autonomy and responsibility for their own intellectual development during this year than previously. The Honours degree aims to develop students' skills, under supervision, as independent researchers and innovative thinkers. Honours will also test students' organisational skills; this is particularly so in terms of their abilities to prepare, define, plan, carry out and report on research. Honours students will undertake empirical research on a topic they choose to study in consultation with their research supervisor; this research should involve the creation of new information and knowledge in their chosen field.

A student's year while studying in the Honours program will probably be the most testing, but also the most rewarding, of his or her undergraduate career.

How to apply

Minimum entry requirements

The basic requirements for Honours in Psychology (Science or Arts) are set out in the appropriate sections of ANU Undergraduate Handbook and ANU Rules. It is the responsibility of applicants to familiarise themselves with such requirements. Special requirements relating to Honours in Psychology are detailed in the psychology section of the Undergraduate Handbook.

Eligibility for Honours in Psychology is based on:

  • completion of the requirements for the award of a pass Bachelor degree with an accredited three-year sequence in psychology courses within the last two years prior to application.

    See requirements for BSc (Psych) and BPsych students. Those students undertaking the Bachelor of Philosophy and planning to undertake an honours year in psychology must fulfil the same psychology requirements as BPsych students.

    BScience and BArts students must complete a minimum of 72 units in psychology including:

    PSYC1003, PSYC1004, PSYC2001, PSYC2002, PSYC2007, PSYC2008, PSYC2009 plus PSYC3018 and PSYC3026, plus a further 18 units of Level 3000 psychology.

The number of places available to non-ANU graduates is limited and highly competitive. The School also reserves the right not to offer places to non-ANU graduates in any given year.

Note: The Honours statistics stream in first semester can be daunting for students. This page describes the level of knowledge we assume students have when they enter our Honours program.

Grade requirements

Applicants are ranked according to the marks they have achieved in 1st, 2nd and 3rd year psychology courses. If a student has failed a limited number of psychology courses with an N grade, and then repeated these courses, we will count the grade the student earned the second time he or she completed the course.  We will not assess any subsequent attempts at the same course.  If a student achieved a NCN grade for a course, we will count that as a mark of 45.

Generally, successful ANU applicants achieve average marks of above 70%, although this does vary from year to year.

External applicants are ranked according to their Grade Point Averages (GPAs). The minimum required to get into Honours is a 6 on a 10-point scale. However, in practice, the minimum is closer to 8 for external applicants. These figures are intended as a guide only, as in any year, cut-offs are determined by the number of places available and the standard of applications.

To calculate your Psychology GPA : Award a score of 4 for a Pass, 6 for a Credit, 8 for a Distinction and 10 for a Higher Distinction. Multiply each of these scores with the number of units or credit points associated with that course (e.g. if you earned a Distinction for a course worth 12 units or credit points, you should multiply 8 x 12 = 48. Add up the results of all these multiplications (we'll call this A). Now add up all of your units or credit points (call this B). Divide A by B and you have a weighted GPA. Below is a worked example.

Sara is in second year and her academic record (with hypothetical courses) so far is as follows :

  • PSYC1003   CR   12 units
  • PSYC2001    D    6 units
  • PSYC2002    D    6 units
  • PSYC2004   CR   6 units
  • PSYC2007   HD   6 units
  • PSYC2008   CR   6 units
  • PSYC2009   CR   6 units

Sara's weighted GPA is:

$\frac{A}{B} = \frac{(6\times12) + (8\times6) + (8\times6) + (6\times6) + (10\times6) + (6\times6) + (6\times6)}{12 + 6 + 6 + 6 + 6 + 6 + 6} = \frac{72 + 48+ 48 + 36 + 60 + 36 + 36}{48} = 7$

Application procedure

Students who have completed APAC accredited three-year undergraduate degrees in Psychology are welcome to apply. Programs with degree structures different from ANU are translated into ANU terms. Again the number of places available to non-ANU graduates is limited.

  • Assessment of eligibility for admission to the psychology honours year is based on information forwarded by applicants. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all relevant information is provided. For external (non-ANU) applicants, this includes a transcript of the academic record attached to the formal application form; if the Bachelor's Degree program has not been completed when the application is lodged, proof of completion should be forwarded to the Admissions Office as soon as possible after it becomes available. If you are a non-ANU applicant, please also provide information about the structure of your degree, and the grading system (the percentage ranges for the various grades awarded).
  • Honours applications are considered at a meeting of academic staff in late November. Successful applicants are notified by the beginning of December, although some late offers may be made in January.
  • As a general rule, full-time enrolments are preferred. Where overriding considerations may result in an applicant's request to undertake the honours program on a part-time basis, it is necessary for that applicant to demonstrate the need for the request to the Honours Convener. Where a part-time enrolment is permitted, the program will extend across two academic years. The coursework will be completed in the first year and the research project in the second year.
  • All interested students are welcome to discuss their possible areas of interest, with staff who might provide supervision. Students are not required to have a supervisor in order to apply
  • Application procedures do vary for internal and external students. If assistance is required email enquiries.psychology@anu.edu.au

Applications with overseas qualifications

Students who did not obtain their three year pass degree qualification within Australia or New Zealand, must have those qualifications assessed by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) to ensure equivalency with Australian qualifications. The final decision on equivalency will be made by the APS.

What if I am a current Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) student?

Do I need to apply?

Yes, current Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) students will still need to complete the 'Application for Admission to Honours Year - Colleges of Science - current ANU students' form (available on ANU Forms for Students page) and submit this form to the Science Student Enquiries counter in the College Office, Peter Baume Building 42.
Note: Answer the question regarding research proposal and supervisor with N/A if you are applying to start in Semester 1.   Psychology students starting in Semester 1 do not choose their supervisor until they are actually accepted into the Honours program.

Mid-year entry

The closing date for mid-year applications is the last Friday in May.

Note that the range of potential supervisors during mid-year entry is limited, given that most of the supervisors take on all of their students in Semester 1. Because the mid-year Honours entry process is slightly different and can be a different experience for students, it is suggested that you talk to one of the Honours convenors for advice.

Part-time study

Students have the option of doing honours part-time. Coursework must be completed in the first year and the thesis in the second year of study.

Being offered a place

Successful applicants

If students are offered a confirmed place in November, the School will endeavour to notify them via the email address they list on their applications. All offers are dependent on confirmation from the relevant College or external University, that a student has completed the requirements for the award of a pass degree.  Non-ANU applicants will receive an official offer letter from Student Administration. This offer will include details on how to accept your offer and how to complete your enrolment with the College of Science (or the College of Arts and Social Sciences).

Note: Students who are made an offer will be asked to rank supervisors with whom they would wish to work with. Instructions about the process will be given to the students at the time of the offer.

Unsuccessful applicants

We strive to notify unsuccessful applicants for Semester 1 entry via email by 24 December.

Unsuccessful ANU applicants are normally notified by email, by the Research School of Psychology, before Christmas. Unsuccessful non-ANU applicants receive official notification via Student Administration, which may not occur before January.

Fees & scholarships

The Honours Program at ANU is Commonwealth-supported for Australian/New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.  International students are liable for the payment of full-fees.  The fee is the same for the BPsych (Hons), BSc (Psychology) (Honours), BSc (Honours) and BA (Honours).

Fee information ANU - Programs and courses

Scholarship information  http://www.anu.edu.au/sas/scholarships/honours.php

ANU offers Honours Scholarships (across all disciplines) each year, selection for which is based on academic merit. Students must apply for scholarships at the same time they apply for admission to the program. Students applying for the Honours program in Psychology are not required to have identified a supervisor before submitting an application for the program or for a scholarship. The 200-word statement to support an application for an Honours scholarship should outline a student's research interest. Supervisors for Honours in Psychology are not confirmed until the beginning of the semester.

About the program

Program components

The honours program is made up of three coursework components and an empirical research project. The coursework components together contribute 50 per cent (16.7 per cent each) to the final assessment:

  1. Honours Methodology
  2. Theory in Psychology
  3. Evidence Based Assessment and Intervention (which covers basic counselling skills, as well as a detailed coverage of tests of intellectual functioning and personality)
  4. Research

The thesis consists of a write-up of an empirical research project conducted by the student, and constitutes 50 percent of the final assessment. This component provides students with the opportunity to conduct a major research project selected from a wide range of options provided anew each year by academic staff. Honours cohorts are kept to a reasonable size in any one year (the School policy is that each staff member typically supervises up to four Honours students per year).

Before students start the Honours program, it is a good idea to think about the available range of possible research project topics and consult potential supervisors about those ideas for a research project. When talking about research topics with a potential supervisor these are some things to consider :

  • the supervisor's research interests and research plans for the coming year
  • the supervisor's preferred supervisory style (How often does he or she like to meet? Exactly how independent does he or she expect a student to be? Does he or she already have a specific project in mind?)
  • what the supervisor expects of an Honours student
  • potential supervisors can be found in the Honours program guide (PDF, 1.2MB)
  • please note that students will be allocated supervisors AFTER being accepted into the Honours Program.

Honours program guide (PDF, 1.2MB)


The Honours program in Psychology is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) and is offered as a Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Bachelor of Science (Honours), or Bachelor of Science (Psychology) (Honours), depending on a student's pass degree, or as the final year of the four-year direct entry Bachelor of Psychology (Honours).

Expectations of students & supervisors

Honours students are at a stage intermediate between undergraduate and postgraduate work. Formally, the university classifies Honours students as an undergraduate. However, their work is more like that of a postgraduate student. During the Honours year, students will experience some of the independence and self-direction required of postgraduate research student's, but they also have close contact and direction from their supervisor(s).

All Honours students have a supervisor. The relationship between supervisor and student involves obligations on the part of both parties. Supervisors assist with advice, guidance and criticism and help students to achieve their personal academic goals. The supervisor is there to help students choose and design the research project, guide the research in a practical and productive way, and advise on writing the best thesis. At the same time supervisors can only guide a students efforts, and then only if the students are receptive to advice. Students must take the responsibility for the final results of their work.

We expect that students will:

  • maintain a close dialogue and constructive working relationship with their supervisor(s)
  • plan their research program and budget with their supervisor(s)
  • consider advice seriously - if advice is not taken, the supervisor should be informed and given the reasons for the decision
  • consult regularly with their supervisor - students should prepare in advance for consultations, by determining the help they require and the areas in which advice would be useful
  • interact with other students and staff in accordance with the relevant university policies (e.g. Equity and Diversity Policies)
  • contribute to the academic life of the School and program by attending all relevant seminars
  • treat School facilities and resources with respect and care, and follow Occupational Health & Safety requirements
  • observe the relevant School rules and regulations
  • complete the formal requirements for Honours
  • complete, to the best of their ability, a well written, thorough and competent bound thesis of the highest standard.

Supervisors also have responsibilities. These are:

  • assist students in selecting and defining the scope of a suitable thesis topic or problem
  • assist students in devising a schedule for the year's thesis work
  • guide students in the selection and application of appropriate data collection and analysis procedures and advise on the solution of any difficulties that arise
  • advise on matters of thesis content, organisation and writing, including the timely provision of comments, written and oral, on drafts or portions of the thesis
  • meet frequently with students to discuss and evaluate each stage of the thesis project
  • monitor students' progress and advise when progress is unsatisfactory
  • assist students in gaining clearance from the ethics committee.

Support for students

Honours in Psychology students have access to their own meeting area, which has computer access, work areas and a small kitchen. Students are also entitled to financial assistance for printing theses and questionnaires, and for purchasing equipment needed to complete their research project.

Program timetable

Coursework starts the first week of the semester and an orientation session will also be held in that week. Students will be informed about supervisory arrangements in January and can then start working on their research projects from the offical start date for the Honours program.

For more information

Frequently asked questions (PDF, 470KB)

Request more information

Enquiries about the application process should be directed to: enquiries.psychology@anu.edu.au

Updated:  28 March 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RSP/Page Contact:  Web Admin, RSP