Frequently Asked Questions

Honours in Psychology 2017 for Current Students

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I find out about the Honours program?
An Honours Information Session for current third year students is run by the Honours Coordinator each year in September. At this meeting, you will find out about the Honours program, eligibility requirements, potential supervisors and their research interests. Importantly, it is at this meeting that students register their expression of interest for Honours, and provide the School with supervisor preferences. All students who are interested in undertaking Honours in 2017 should attend this meeting. Details will be advertised through the School webpages and PSYC Moodle modules early in Semester 2.

If you are unable to attend the meeting you should email the School (psychology@unsw.edu.au) mid-September for information about the Honours program and supervisor preferences.

2. What Level 3 PSYC electives should I take in preparation for Honours?
As many as you can. The more Level 3 PSYC electives you take, the better prepared you will be for Honours in psychology. In particular, prospective Honours students are strongly advised to take PSYC3371 Multivariate Data Analysis for Psychology. Students are encouraged to substitute Level 3 PSYC electives for free electives in their degree program.

3. How important is PSYC3371 Multivariate Data Analysis for Psychology for Honours?
Very. Prospective Honours students are strongly advised to take PSYC3371 Multivariate Data Analysis for Psychology. PSYC3371 is highly recommended for all students intending to go onto Honours in psychology as it complements PSYC3001. PSYC3001 focuses on ANOVA models and provides a thorough coverage of statistical methods for analysing single dependent variable data from experimental designs. 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 students with a solid foundation for analysing data for honours projects.  PSYC3371 is listed as a Level 3 Stream A PSYC elective but can be taken as a Stream B elective.

4. What happens if I don’t take PSYC3371?
If you don’t take PSYC3371, you run the risk of lacking the statistical knowledge to analyse your honours data adequately. Further, you will be restricted in your understanding of journal articles and findings. Your supervisor will expect you to have a broad understanding of data analysis methods and without PSYC3371 you may have to learn advanced data analysis methods on your own. Learning about new statistical methods on your own is no match for learning about them within a structured course.

5. What if I get a low mark for PSYC3371, how will this impact on getting into Honours?
You need to attain a mark of at least 50 for PSYC3371 to be eligible for Honours. Your mark for PSYC3371 will not impact the calculation of the Psychology Average provided you have higher marks for another 18 UoC of Level 3 PSYC electives.

6. What are the entry requirements for Honours in psychology? How is the Psychology Average calculated?
To be eligible for Honours in Psychology in 2017, current students must have completed all Stage 1, 2 and 3 requirements of their degree program (or the Science part of a dual degree) at the end of Semester 1 2016 or Semester 2 2016. In exceptional cases, students may complete the final 6 UoC (non-PSYC) over Summer Term 2017 (see below).

Entry to the Honours program for current students is obtained by achieving a Psychology Average mark of at least 75%. The Psychology Average is the unweighted average of:
• marks for psychology core courses common to all psychology programs / plans (see below); and
• the three highest of marks for all Level 3 psychology elective courses ever attempted.

The psychology core courses are as follows:
Level 1
• PSYC1001 Psychology 1A
• PSYC1011 Psychology 1B
• PSYC1111 Measuring Mind and Behaviour

Level 2
• PSYC2001 Research Methods 2
• PSYC2061 Social and Developmental Psychology
• PSYC2071 Perception and Cognition
• PSYC2081 Learning and Physiological Psychology
• PSYC2101 Assessment, Personality and Psychopathology

Level 3
• PSYC3001 Research Methods 3
• PSYC3011 Research and Applications of Psychology

Note that:
(i) Only PSYC courses taken at UNSW count towards the Psychology Average. Psychology courses taken at another university (including those taken while on exchange) do not count towards the Psychology Average.

(ii) Level 1 psychology electives do not count towards the Psychology Average.

(iii) The Psychology Average is based on a student’s first attempt at a course, unless there were special circumstances which justify including the mark from the second attempt. In such cases, students should set out these circumstances in a letter to the Honours Coordinator at the time of application.

7. What if my Psychology Average is between 70 and 75, am I still eligible for Honours?
Students with a Psychology Average between 70 and 75 may be offered a place in the Honours program, at the discretion of the Honours Committee. Factors that increase the likelihood of a place in Honours are: (i) a pass mark or higher for PSYC3371; (ii) Psychology Average closer to 75 than 70; and (iii) higher performance for Level 3 psychology courses than for Level 1 and Level 2 psychology courses. In addition, a student’s progression history across Stages 1-3, including special consideration history, is taken into account.

Students with a Psychology Average between 70 and 75 are competing against external applicants, many of whom have outstanding academic records. The number of places available to internal applicants within this range depends upon the number of potential Honours students with a Psychology Average of 75 or higher, as well as the number of exceptional external applicants. 

8. When do I find out if I’ve been offered a place in Honours?
Current students who have provided the School with an expression of interest for Honours are sent a confirmation email from the School to student email accounts in mid-December. This email tells you whether you are being offered a place in the Honours program for the following year, and if so who your supervisor will be. As well, you will be given information regarding enrolment and the Honours Orientation meeting.

9. When does the Honours year begin?
The Honours program officially begins with an Honours Orientation Meeting in the last week of January 2017. Details of the meeting are provided in the confirmation email sent by the School to student email accounts in mid-December 2016.

Attendance at the Honours Orientation Meeting is mandatory and should be taken seriously. Students will be enrolled in the Honours program by the School following this meeting. Students not attending the meeting will not be enrolled. At this meeting, students are given important information about the Honours program. Students are expected to begin meeting with their supervisor at this time.

10. Can I complete Stage 3 over Summer Term 2017?
Students must have completed all PSYC requirements by the end of S2 2016. Further, it is preferable that students have completed all requirements for Stages 1-3, i.e. all free electives and General Education (where required) by the end of S2 2016. In exceptional circumstances, the School may allow students to complete the remaining 6 UOC (non-PSYC course) in Summer Term 2017. However, you should not consider that this is an acceptable practice. There are disadvantages to completing Stage 3 over Summer because the Honours program begins before the Summer course is completed.

11. Can you defer Honours?
No, it is not possible to defer a place in the Honours program in the School of Psychology. You must accept your offer for the year following completion of Stage 3 (i.e., complete third year in 2016 and begin Honours in 2017). Students who complete third year at the end S2 2016 and who want to undertake Honours in 2018, will need to graduate at the end of 2016 and then apply in 2017 (for the following year) as an external applicant. Entry to the Honours program for external applicants is based on merit and availability of School resources.

12. When do I apply for Honours if I complete Stage 3 year in S1 2016?
Student who have completed all of their Stage 3 requirements for their degree program at the end of Semester 1 are considered current students with regard to eligibility for Honours in psychology in 2017. Students who graduate at the end of S1 2016 should contact the School in early S2 2016 to receive information regarding the Honours program. Students who are in 4-year degree programs will be required to take leave for S2 2016. You should contact the School Office to discuss your situation.

13. What is the difference between internal applicants and external applicants?
Internal applicants are UNSW current students who are enrolled in an undergraduate degree program in S2 2016 or UNSW students who have completed Stage 3 of their degree program in S1 2016.

External applicants are everyone else. This includes non-UNSW students completing (or having completed) an undergraduate degree or Graduate Diploma (with an accredited major sequence in psychology) at another university, as well as UNSW graduates who completed their undergraduate degree prior to S1 2016.

14. What are the requirements for external entry?
Places are offered to external applicants on the basis of merit. Please note the School first allocates Honours places to eligible current students from UNSW (internal applicants) and then considers external applicants (those from other universities, or UNSW graduates). The number of places available for external applicants (if any) varies from year to year and depends upon the number of eligible internal students and the availability of School resources. For this reason, only those external applicants with an outstanding undergraduate psychology record will be considered.

15. How should I pick my supervisor preferences and what factors should I take into account?
There is no clear cut 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. Students provide preferences for 10 supervisors (out of a list of about 30-35 possible supervisors). Order the supervisors by who you would like to work with the most, and don’t put someone on your list that you don’t want to work with. Students will be allocated to one of their ten preferences, so you should be prepared to work with each one of your ten preferences.

16. What factors are taken into account when allocating supervisors to students?
The Honours Coordinator allocates supervisors to students. The primary factor governing this process is student preferences, but other factors come into play such as academic workload for supervisors. The primary aim of the allocation process is to obtain the best match between student and supervisor, whilst allocating as widely as possible across the list of potential supervisors. Most supervisors are allocated 1-3 Honours students. In order to maintain fairness in the process, supervisors cannot make requests for individual students.

17. Can I meet with a supervisor before selection and discuss wanting to be in their lab?
Yes, you are encouraged to talk with supervisors to find out more about their research. There will be events organised in S2 by the School and PsychSoc where you will be able to meet and speak to Honours students and supervisors. Note that supervisors cannot make requests for students, so meeting with the supervisors is for your own benefit to inform your preference choices.

18. When do we learn who our supervisor is?
In mid-December, the School sends a confirmation email (to student email accounts) with information about the Honours Orientation Meeting, enrolment procedure, and supervisor contact details.

19. 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?
Contact hours depend on your project and vary over time. In 2016, all students attend 5 hours of classes each week during semester- one two-hour lecture and one-hour tutorial, plus a two-hour seminar. The schedule of coursework for 2017 is likely to be the same. Classes are spread out over several days in most cases and note that class attendance is mandatory. Time spent on the thesis 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. A realistic expectation is that you can expect to come to uni most days of the working week, if not every day.

20. How many hours of non-contact study is expected?
The Honours program in Psychology is full-time, and even though the number of class contact hours for coursework is less than you are used to in undergraduate years, you should think of Honours as a full-time job. 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.

21. What is expected of students in regards to independence?
Working 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’ll 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.

22. Are students able to work part-time during Honours?
Students are advised not to take on outside work while enrolled in Honours, or at most limit outside work to one day per week, as 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 Coordinator (if necessary), at the start of the year.

23. How many classes do you take per semester?
The coursework requirement of Honours consists of PSYC4093 in Semester 1 and PSYC4103 in Semester 2. Each of these courses has a core component (weekly lecture and tutorial) and a weekly seminar class on an advanced topic in psychology.

24. How are classes allocated?
Allocation to elective seminars is based on student preferences. Students provide preferences for S1 and S2 Electives at the Honours Orientation Meeting in January. Allocation to core tutorials is made by the School.

25. What are the electives? Is there a course outline? When do I choose them?
Choice of elective seminars varies from year to year. Each elective considers an advanced topic in psychology. Elective coordinators provide a course outline at the start of semester. A description of elective offerings for S1 and S2 is available at the Honours Orientation Meeting in January and students provide their preferences at that time.

26. What happens during mid-semester and mid-year break?
Students continue to work on their Honours projects. Depending upon the nature of the project and participants, some students are able to collect data throughout the mid-year break. In any case, while there is no formal classwork, most students find that they use the mid-semester and mid-year breaks to continue working on their Honours project and thesis.

Information current at: July 2016

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