Honours year structure
Honours is an additional year of study after completing a Bachelor’s degree. In your Physics Honours year, you will extend the skills and knowledge you gained during your undergraduate degree, but also build new skills and knowledge through the research project, where you will complete original research under the guidance of an experienced physicist.
Good marks in your Honours year will make you eligible for a PhD program in Australia and possibly overseas. Even if you are not planning to complete a PhD, Honours still teaches you a wide range of skills useful in the workplace, such as managing long-term projects, communicating your knowledge clearly, and solving complex problems.
Application and enrolment information
Application and enrolment information, as well as admission criteria are available in the College of Science Honours Handbook.
50% Coursework 50% Research Project
The coursework is entirely in Semester 1. It consists of one 6 unit Research Training course, and three 6 unit Physics courses. You can choose these three courses from the following:
- Applied Mathematical Methods in Physics (PHYS4301)
- Nonlinear Dynamics in Physics (PHYS4303)
- Quantum Scattering (PHYS4304)
- Optical Physics (PHYS6500, if you have not done PHYS3057)
- Physics of Matter (PHYS6105)
- Quantum Field Theory II (PHYS8302)
Subject to approval, you can also chose to do one of the following courses, provided that you did not complete third year versions of these courses earlier:
- Advanced Quantum Mechanics (PHYS6101)
- Advanced Electromagnetism (PHYS6102)
- Advanced Statistical Mechanics (PHYS6103)
Research training course
The research training course will help you get prepared to write your Honours thesis, and guide you in the initial work on your research project, such as background reading. The course will cover a range of skills needed for your thesis, including:
- Reading scientific papers
- Writing for science
- Presenting data
- Planning your project
- Giving research presentations
The course assessment will comprise research journal entries (about scientific papers you read), assignments, and a research proposal for your Honours project.
In your research project, you will undertake a substantial and original piece of research in some area of physics you have chosen. Your project can be supervised by an academic at the Research School of Physics, or a physicist working at ANU outside the school (for example, in Chemistry, Earth Sciences, or Mathematics). The Physics Project page is a great place to start looking for projects and supervisors.
The research project is largely undertaken in second semester, with a 24 unit course value in the second semester (PHYS4110).
The project mark is divided as follows:
- 2% mid-year talk
- 5% end of year talk
- 93% written thesis
You can start your honours year in second semester. You will work on your research project over Semester 2 of the year, and also complete the Research Training course in this time. During Semester 1 of the next year, you will then finish work on your research project during the 6-point Research Project course, at the same time as completing 18 units of Physics courses. Your thesis will be due at the end of coursework in Semester 1. For the important dates, please see the Honours Timeline of the College of Science
Timeline can be referenced from the College of Science Honours Timeline
Advice for prospective students
- For both Semester 1 and Semester 2 starting students, your research project starts at the very beginning of your Honours year. Make sure you have a research project lined up before starting Honours. If you are having trouble finding a project, the Honours Convenor can help you.
- In both semesters, we expect you to spend the mid-semester teaching break working on your project when you don’t have coursework assessment. Particularly in Semester 1, it is a great opportunity to get some focused work done on your project. Your supervisor and the Honours convenors can give you advice on how best to spend this time.
- It is important to find the right research project for you – one that matches your interests and skills, and is in a group your will enjoy working in. So talk to multiple supervisors and ask lots of questions:
- Ask about what the project involves, the physics concerned, and what pre-requisite knowledge you will need.
- Find out whether the project is largely experimental, simulation, or theory, or a combination and ask about the skills you will learn.
- Ask about the project timeline, the equipment or facilities required, and any contingency plans for when (not if!) things go awry. Has all the equipment been purchased and tested? Is beamtime or NCI computing time assigned to the project already?
- Ask about your supervisors’ supervision style: will you have regular organised meetings, or will you just ask them questions as they come up? Find out if anyone else is involved in your supervision (e.g. PhD students, post-docs), and if your supervisor will be overseas for a long period at any point.
- Talk to your supervisor’s other students and find out what it is like to work in that group.