Honours year programs policy
Intent and objectives
The intent of this policy is to provide a consistent framework for honours year programs at RMIT and guidance for their operation.
The objectives of this policy are to define honours year programs and to describe their operation in terms of acceptable structure, purpose, entry requirements, supervision and honours level determination.
This policy is applicable to all bachelor degree honours year programs at RMIT as defined below.
This policy does not apply to bachelor degree programs that are awarded with honours on the basis of performance over more than one year full-time normal duration.
The bachelor degree honours year program is an advanced undergraduate award available to high performing students who have completed a relevant first degree. Honours year programs at RMIT require the equivalent of one year of full-time study (96 credit points) comprising advanced and/or theoretical coursework, research methods, and a research project culminating in a minor thesis or equivalent.
The honours year program is designed to prepare graduates who have successfully completed an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) of three or more years at a high level of achievement to expand and deepen their knowledge and develop research skills. The program prepares graduates for independent, effective research in a business or industry setting or for Masters or Doctoral level research.
The honours year program provides for the following outcomes:
- advanced, in-depth studies within the student’s chosen field
- an extended knowledge base
- improved critical and independent thinking skills
- improved analytical, technical and communication skills
The honours year program provides for the following opportunities:
- eligibility for postgraduate study
- eligibility for postgraduate scholarships and
- enhanced employment opportunities
The honours program provides students with the knowledge and skills to enable them to become literate, reflective, professional and responsive practitioners and researchers in their chosen discipline. Graduates will have the ability to apply critical analysis and creative solutions in different contexts.
1. Honours year programs contain a mix of theoretical study, research training and research. The main component of the honours year program is a substantial piece of research leading to an assessable outcome that may be undertaken and presented in the format of either a traditional dissertation or a project with exegesis. (See Definitions section at the end of this document.)
2. The proportion of the honours year program that the research component comprises may vary according to the discipline. In most cases it will comprise not less than 50% of the credit points that make up the program. Where it is proposed that the proportion of research in an honours year program is lower than 50%, this must be specifically addressed in the program approval documentation. Under no circumstances will the research component comprise less than 25% or more than 75% of the credit points that make up the program. The balance of the program will comprise coursework. Any research methods training will be deemed to be part of the coursework component.
3. Both the research and coursework components must be successfully completed.
4. Where the research component is undertaken and presented in the format of a dissertation, the size will normally be within the range of 8,000 - 15,000 words, excluding abstract, title pages, references, diagrams, tables, figures, etc. As appropriate thesis length can vary according to the discipline, the actual range and/or upper word limit can be set by the School, within this nominal range.
5. Where the research component is undertaken and presented in the format of a project and exegesis, the work submitted will include:
- The project to be assessed, including essential data and documentation,
- An appropriate durable record of what was produced. This record must be appropriate to the discipline and to the project and may take the form of photographs, digital records, a copy of the product and/or a brief description with evaluation data. A written document or exegesis, defined as an account and/or defence of what was done which must include reference to and reflection upon the processes involved and the significance for practice of what was learned through the project, and what was produced.
6. The research training undertaken in, and the research outcomes of the honours year will:
- Have clearly defined objectives and expected outcomes,
- Reflect national standards of good practice in the provision of research training,
- Be achievable within the timeframe and consistent with the University’s policy and guidelines on ethics, and
7. The research component must be supported by adequate facilities and infrastructure, including adequate resources for students and the availability of supervisors with appropriate expertise.
8. Honours year programs must include provision for training in research methods, project planning and ethics.
9. Ethics approval must be obtained for the research component where appropriate.
10. All courses included in honours year programs must be graded.
11. Students in honours year programs may be required to present their work in a format such as a short seminar.
12. A full-time candidate in an honours year program will normally complete the degree in one academic year.
13. A part-time candidate in an honours year program will normally complete the degree in a maximum of two academic years.
14. Applications for extensions of time beyond the normal stated in 3.12 and 3.13 above will be handled in accordance with the Maximum time policy.
4. Admission requirements
1. The requirement for admission to the honours year program is high achievement in a relevant bachelor degree of three or more years. The specific entry requirements will be set by the School but will be at least a credit average (RMIT GPA 2.0).
2. Graduates of appropriate Bachelor degrees in a like discipline at RMIT or another university can be considered for entry.
3. Further requirements for entry into honours programs may be determined by Schools and published as appropriate. The circumstances in which such requirements may be waived or varied should be clearly defined.
4. Admission usually (but not necessarily) involves direct continuation from the "pass" level three-year bachelor degree
5. Entry into honours is normally at the commencement of the academic year. Mid-year entry may be offered at the discretion of the Head of School.
Schools will provide a formal administrative structure for the honours year program which will include a co-ordinator. Colleges/Schools may appoint an honours year program committee to monitor the allocation of supervisors and examiners, and academic progress of students within their honours year programs. Such a committee will serve as the Student Progress Committee.
Students enrolled in honours year programs must have a principal supervisor assigned for project supervision who is a staff member of RMIT. They may have any number of co-supervisors and/or consultants either within, or external to, RMIT.
The supervision of students enrolled in honours year programs will be conducted in a manner consistent with the principles outlined in “Supervisor Responsibilities” and “Workload of senior supervisors” of the Higher Degrees by Research Policy and Procedures
Where appropriate, co-supervision by qualified non-academics (e.g. from industry) is encouraged. The principal supervisor must have completed a research degree, a Masters degree with a research component or an honours year program and have gained additional research experience. The principal supervisor must have relevant knowledge, expertise, research experience and interest in the student’s research topic, access to adequate resources, and sufficient time to provide proper supervision, taking account of total workload including the supervision of other students. Appropriate academic supervision must be provided for all students in honours year programs. The principal supervisor must be appointed prior to the student commencing the research component in their program to ensure that appropriate supervision is available within the School, and to assist with the development of an appropriate research outline.
Students will be assigned to a supervisor who can provide individual guidance and one-on-one academic mentoring. Supervisors are responsible for advising, suggesting, assisting and guiding the student in the conduct of the research component of their honours year. Supervisors should provide constructive criticism and encourage the development of the student’s capacity for independent research and scholarship. If the principal supervisor is absent for four weeks or more, the School will arrange alternate supervision before the absence and after consultation with the student.
The appointment of supervisors and/or consultants and any changes of supervisory arrangements must be managed in accordance with the relevant School processes.
6. Examination of research component
6.1 The examination of work produced for the research component of an honours year program will be conducted in accordance with the Honours year programs: examination of research component procedure.
6.2 The research component will be classified in accordance with the rubric detailing how the classification levels apply, as presented in the appendix to the Honours year programs: examination of research component procedure
7. Honours level classification
7.1 The College or School will constitute one or more honours committees to determine students’ overall final honours classifications, taking account of the results achieved in and the respective weightings of both the research and coursework components of the program.
7.2 The RMIT Grade Point Average formula will be taken into consideration in determining a student’s final grades, however final overall honours classifications based purely on cumulative GPA will not be automatically generated.
7.3 In determining a student’s final honours classification, the Honours Committee will observe the principles articulated in the policy and procedures for Moderation and Validation of Assessment and the criteria stipulated in the rubric for the classification of the research component.
7.4 Students’ honours program outcomes will be classified at one of the following levels:
- Honours First Class (H1)
- Honours 2A (H2A)
- Honours 2B (H2B)
- Honours 3 (H3)
- Fail (NN)
A rubric detailing how these classification levels apply to the research component is presented in the appendix to the Honours year programs: examination of research component procedure[Next: Supporting documents and information]