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Honours Procedures

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) These Procedures are designed to provide detailed information about the application, admission, supervision and examination processes for Bachelor (Honours) programs

(2) These Procedures should be read in conjunction with the Curriculum Design and Approvals Policy (CDA Policy), Curriculum Design and Approvals Procedures - Curriculum Structure, Admissions Policy, Examinations Policy, Examinations Procedures, Conflict of Interest Policy, Assessment Procedures - Review of Grade and Academic Appeals Procedures.

(3) The structural requirements for Honours programs are set out in the Curriculum Design and Approvals Procedures - Curriculum Structure, and program structures are published in the Online Handbook.

(4) These Procedures apply to embedded and end-on Honours programs, with flexibility to accommodate Honours projects or thesis subjects ranging from 20 to 60 credit points.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(5) For the purpose of these Procedures, definitions that apply can be found in the Policy DDS Glossary.

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Section 3 - Admission

(6) Admission processes and criteria for Honours programs will be published in the Online Handbook and School Honours Guidelines (available in the associated information to these procedures and the Curriculum Design and Approvals Procedures - Curriculum Structure).

(7) Depending on the program, admission to an Honours program may:

  1. be inherent to progression in the program (for example, for students enrolled in AQF Level 8 Bachelor (Honours) programs)
  2. be by invitation, following student completion of threshold credit point requirements, and/or
  3. require an online application

(8) Admission to an AQF Level 8 Bachelor (Honours) program follows the University's usual processes under the Admission Policy.

(9) Where an Honours program is not inherent to progression in the program, admission is considered by the School Honours Coordinator or designated positions within a School to determine:

  1. eligibility against the admission criteria in these Procedures, and
  2. any specific Honours admission criteria published in the Online Handbook and School Honours Guidelines

(10) For Honours programs that require students to apply for entry, the Dean of the School or nominee approves or declines admission and advises the Office of Student and University Planning, which arranges administrative/system requirements and communication to the student.

(11) Where students are invited to enrol in the Honours program, the Dean or nominee issues an invitation to eligible students and, upon written acceptance by the student, advises the Office of Student and University Planning, which arranges administrative/system requirements and communication to the student.

(12) If the usual processes under the Admissions Policy are not appropriate, admission to an end-on or embedded Honours program is based on the following criteria being met, as appropriate for each program:

  1. achievement of a threshold admission average mark (AAM) equal to or above the required minimum published for each Honours program in the School Honours Guidelines and on the Schools’ Honours webpage; the required minimum will be no less than 65, and 
  2. Statement of Intent or School equivalent (including acceptance of an invitation, where appropriate), and
  3. appointment of a suitable Principal Supervisor by the Dean of the School or nominee, and
  4. demonstrated satisfactory academic writing skills appropriate to the discipline, and
  5. after completion of a specified number of credit points in the applicant’s undergraduate degree, as published in the School Honours Guidelines (where appropriate); this may specify subject levels, where relevant, and include registered placement subjects for which final grades are not yet available. Final year students applying for end-on Honours must be registered in the sufficient number of subjects to complete their degree, and
  6. any other specific School requirements, which may include an invitation-only basis for an Honours program

(13) Where admission is by application and the number of applications exceeds the availability of supervised places, the School Academic Committee (SAC) shall rank applicants based on the published admission criteria, on recommendation of the School Honours Coordinator or designated position within the School. This ranking will be used to ensure that offerings do not exceed supervised places.

(14) The AAM must include marks from a minimum of 80 Western Sydney University credit points.

(15) Students must satisfactorily complete the preceding AQF 7 Bachelor degree before they can enrol in an end-on Honours program.

(16) Where required, an autonomous sanctions compliance review must be completed before students can be enrolled in the Honours program.

(17) Where required, Ethics approval must be given before any experimental work, data collection or fieldwork may be commenced. 

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Section 4 - Supervision

(18) Each Honours candidate will have a Principal Supervisor. Good practice is to have a minimum of one Co-Supervisor, or team-supervision arrangements, where suitably qualified Co-Supervisors or team members are available.

(19) The Principal Supervisor must be listed on the School's register of Honours supervisors, and at least one of the supervisors:

  1. must hold a Doctoral degree, or equivalent professional experience that includes:
    1. an AQF Level 9 qualification, and
    2. current accreditation/registration within a relevant profession (if applicable), and either:
      1. at least three years recent (within the past five years) professional experience that is relevant to the Honours program or
      2. current enrolment in an AQF Level 10 program and recent (within the past five years) professional experience relevant to the Honours program, and
  2. must be active in research and publishing or otherwise making original contributions to a relevant field or discipline.

(20) Where a student has issues or concerns regarding the supervision of their Honours studies, they should approach the School Honours Coordinator or equivalent position within their School for help managing the issues. Where this position is involved in supervision or supervision concerns, the student may approach the School's Associate Dean, Research and HDR or Deputy Dean for advice.

(21) Where an issue is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, they should be referred to the Complaint Management Policy.

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Section 5 - Thesis Submission

(22) The overall requirements for a written thesis or non-standard thesis are outlined in the Curriculum Design and Approvals Procedures - Curriculum Structure (Compulsory Research). Detailed requirements for the thesis, including approved formats and its submission will be published in the School Honours Guidelines.

(23) A student may apply for an extension of time for thesis submission up to three working days before their originally approved submission date. Any variations to this timeline must be approved by the School Honours Coordinator or nominee. Extensions can only be granted in accordance with University policies.

(24) An application for extension must be submitted under the subject code for the Honours thesis or project subject.

(25) The Subject Coordinator must approve applications for extensions and advise the student of the decision. If a School requires the Subject Coordinator to consult with the School Honours Coordinator or nominee, and/or advise them or the SAC of any extensions granted, this will be specified in the School Honours Guidelines.

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Section 6 - Examination

(26) Where an Honours program requires formal examinations, the Examinations Policy and Examination Procedures will apply.

(27) The significant research component will be examined by two suitably qualified examiners, who may be external to the University or internal to the University. At least one examiner must hold a qualification at or above Honours and have a record of research or scholarly attainment in a relevant field. A professional examiner from a related industry can be the second examiner.

(28) Where examiners are only internal to the University, there will be an independent moderation process to assure quality and consistency of internal examination.

(29) Each School will determine its process for recommending and approving examiners for the significant research component. This process will be published in the School Honours Guidelines, which are endorsed by the SAC and approved by Education Committee.

(30) Examiners will not be supervisors or co-supervisors; examiners will make independent determinations on the significant research component and will each award a mark out of 100, which will be averaged to give a total score. Refer to the Conflict of Interest Policy.

(31) Where there is a marked discrepancy of 10 or more marks between significant research component examiners or a difference in the examiner-recommended Honours level, the School Honours Coordinator or designated position within a School may take one or more of the following actions:

  1. have the Subject Coordinator invite the examiners to confer with each other and/or with the School's Research and Higher Degrees Committee with a view to presenting a consolidated recommendation
  2. appoint an experienced marker of Bachelor (Honours) theses as a third examiner who will act as an arbiter:
    1. the arbiter will review the thesis and the other examiners' reports (de-identified where possible), including all comments and discussions as required to clarify
    2. the arbiter will then determine the mark and level on the basis of the published criteria and standards for the thesis
    3. the mark determined by the arbiter is the final examination result for recommendation to the SAC

(32) Final examination results are made available to students through the University's standard processes for releasing results.

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Section 7 - Award Levels

(33) Honours levels are awarded only as follows: First Class (highest level of Honours), Second Class, and Third Class(lowest level awarded). Second Class has two divisions of performance identified: Division 1 (highest) and Division 2.

(34) The level of Honours is determined using the criteria in the relevant approved and published School Honours Guidelines. 

(35) The criteria used for awarding the level of Honours will:

  1.  be clearly articulated in published School Honours Guidelines and
  2. include an explanation and rationale in terms of professional accreditation requirements, and/or sector norms, standards or benchmarking for the different levels and the boundaries between them, and
  3. include provisions for an exit award in lieu of Honours where available.

(36) The School Honours Coordinator or equivalent role coordinating this work at the School considers examiner’s reports, marks, and other information as specified in the School Honours Guidelines and recommends the level of award to the SAC, which approves the Honours award level outcome.

(37) Honours levels are made available to students through the University's standard processes for confirming their eligibility to graduate. Students must not be advised of their Honours levels before they receive this official notification.

(38) After each term in which Honours Awards are made, the SAC will send a written report to the Assessment Committee, including a summary of the approved Honours results, any significant variability, anomalies and trends, any extensions on thesis submission dates, and any recommendations about assessment policies and practices.

(39) The Assessment Committee will monitor the processes that are used to ensure consistency of Honours assessment across markers and student cohorts, including external benchmarking.

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Section 8 - Review of Grade

(40) The Assessment Procedures - Review of Grade and procedures will apply to all subjects, including the significant research component, in the Honours program. The review may affect the level of Honours awarded.

(41) Appeals that relate to more than one subject must be made separately.

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Section 9 - Appeal Against Level of Honours

(42) Appeals not related to individual subject marks but against the level of Honours awarded can be made in accordance with the Academic Appeals Procedures with the only grounds for appeal being those arising from procedural irregularity.

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Section 10 - School Honours Guidelines

(43) School Honours Guidelines are developed and endorsed by the SAC, approved by Education Committee and published on University School webpages and as associated information to these procedures and the Curriculum Design and Approvals Procedures - Curriculum Structure.

(44) School Honours Guidelines are reviewed annually and include the School's criteria and processes for managing its Honours programs. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. applications and admission
  2. supervision
  3. program structure, including research training and compulsory research component; ethics and work health and safety requirements
  4. procedures for dealing with supervision issues
  5. Honours progression
  6. thesis format, submission, appointment of examiners, and examination
  7. Honours levels, including an explanation of the criteria and boundaries for the different levels
  8. review of grade and appeals
  9. key dates