If you want to proceed directly from your pass degree (whether at ANU or another university) to your honours degree, you need to start the application process in the last year of that degree. You should identify and contact a prospective supervisor and discuss your thesis topic with them, and begin reading and collecting relevant research material. You will need to start working seriously on your thesis topic immediately after completing your pass exams. You should also be present in Canberra well before the semester starts.
The decision on your admission into the honours program will be made by the College Honours Committee, taking into account your grades, the quality of your research proposal and the arrangements made for your supervision. For those students who have not attached a letter of commitment from a potential supervisor and instead submitted a list of possible supervisors or requested the Committee’s help in arranging supervision, the Committee will do its best to allocate a supervisor if it deems the other components of the application to be strong. However, should the Committee’s efforts fail and no supervisor can be found, the overall application is considered rejected.
At the same time, the Committee reserves the right to alter the supervision arrangements even in cases in which students have been able to secure letters of commitment from potential supervisors. For a variety of reasons, the Committee may be of the view that another ANU staff member is better positioned to supervise you than your nominee. However, the Committee will only override the declared wish of the student and the nominee’s statement of commitment if it feels strongly that the student will be disadvantaged by the suggested arrangement.
Research proposals can take many forms, but they should answer four questions: “Why?”, “What?”, “How?” and “When?” Your proposal should be between two and three pages in length (single-line spacing), including the bibliography. It must include:
Explain why the topic/problem is interesting and important to the field; what is known about the topic/problem in general terms; who has made the most important contributions to the topic/problem; and how your thesis plans to contribute to general debates both within Asian-Pacific studies and your particular discipline. This would be a very brief “literature review” that may form part of your introduction or chapter 1 later on. Try to integrate the “literature review” with the exposition of the project.
Outline the most important research question you aim to answer, and if appropriate state your hypothesis. In addition, point to the paradigms or conceptual frameworks of your discipline that you will operate within or challenge.
Provide an overview of the methods (e.g. discourse analysis, online interviews, fieldwork) and materials you will use to research your topic (including primary material, such as artefacts, Asian-language magazines or newspapers, films, archival collections or data from primary fieldwork), as well as an indicative bibliography of secondary works. You should also describe the location and accessibility of materials you propose to use including, if you plan to conduct fieldwork, how you will gain access to your research site and subjects.
Draw up a work schedule giving the dates when you propose to complete each phase of your research, first draft of the thesis, and revision of complete draft. If you plan to conduct fieldwork, you must include in your work schedule the dates on which you propose to submit the ethics application and conduct the research.