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What is honours?

An honours degree is your transition from undergraduate studies to higher degree studies or into the workforce. It’s a prestigious qualification for the best students, proving your ability to pursue a doctorate or other graduate degree, and demonstrating to future employers your advanced research, organisational and communication skills.

The honours program at the College of Asia and the Pacific gives you the opportunity to show what you can do as a researcher, thinker and writer. As an honours student, you will have more autonomy and responsibility for your own intellectual development than in your undergraduate studies, participating in academic seminars and completing a research thesis on a topic of your own choosing.

You can complete the honours program in one year full-time, or over one-and-a-half years part-time.

Am I eligible?

The College of Asia and the Pacific offers the following honours programs:

Image: Australian Foreign Affairs.

Bachelor of Asian Studies (Honours) is available to those students completing the Bachelor of Pacific Studies or Bachelor of Asian Studies (or the equivalent at a different institution). You must have evidence of proficiency in a regional language sufficient to conduct supervised research in that language (if applicable). For example, if you wish to do research on dog hotels in Beijing, you will be expected to use sources in Chinese. If you plan to do research on a culture in the Pacific whose language is not offered at ANU, you are exempted from this requirement.

Admission Requirements

A Bachelor of Asian Studies degree or equivalent, completed within the last two years:

  1. with a weighted average mark equivalent to an ANU 70 per cent in relevant courses in their Bachelor Pass Degree (i.e., courses that are relevant to their proposed honours thesis), excluding 1000-level courses (i.e. introductory undergraduate courses).
  2. with a minimum of 24 units of sequential language study or equivalent proficiency in an Asian language OR a 48 unit major or equivalent in Pacific Studies.
  3. with a 24 unit minor or equivalent in a cognate discipline.
  4. with the written approval of an identified supervisor and the CAP Honours Program Convenor for the thesis.
Joint International Relations and Women in International Security Seminar.

Bachelor of International Security Studies (Honours) is available to those students completing 1.) a Bachelor of International Security Studies (or the equivalent at a different institution), 2.) a Bachelor of Asian/Pacific Studies (with an Asia-Pacific Security major or Global Security major), or 3.) an ANU degree with a cognate major, with an overall grade average of at least 70 per cent in relevant courses. Students enrolled in Bachelor of International Security Studies (Honours) are exempted from language proficiency requirements.

Admission Requirements

A Bachelor of International Security Studies degree or equivalent, completed within the last two years:

  1. with a weighted average mark equivalent to an ANU 70 per cent in relevant courses in their Bachelor Pass Degree (i.e., courses that are relevant to their proposed honours thesis), excluding 1000-level courses (i.e. introductory undergraduate courses).
  2. with a major or equivalent in a cognate discipline.
  3. with the written approval of an identified supervisor and the CAP Honours Program Convenor for the thesis.

Note on 'Relevant courses': The Honours committee will calculate an applicant's grade average by adding up the results from those courses that the Committee deems relevant for the student's proposed thesis topic, and dividing the total by the number of those courses. If, for example, a student proposes to write a thesis on the economy of China, the Committee will take into account all ASIA-coded non-language courses, all Chinese language courses, and courses taken in economics and/or political economy. In other words, the Committee does not only consider courses taken in the field of Asia Pacific studies, but all courses taken by the student in the past that relate to the proposed topic. This gives the Committee a much better idea of how well an applicant is going to do in the Honours year.


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 and consider which research methods courses would be suitable. You will need to start working seriously on your thesis topic immediately after completing your bachelor degree exams. You should also be present in Canberra well before the semester starts.

Decision Making Process

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.

Requirements of the honours research proposal

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:

1. Introduction to the topic ("Why?" and "What?")
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 in your particular field of study. 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.

2. Methodology and sources ("How?")
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.

3. A research plan ("When?")
Draw up a work schedule giving the dates when you propose to complete each phase of your research, the first draft of the thesis, and the revision of the 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.

Honours Proposal Application – deadline 30th November (11:59pm AEST)

Applicants are required to submit the below documents to before the deadline.

  1. A research proposal (see 'How do I prepare for Honours?').
  2. A letter (or email) from your potential supervisor. Supervisors may be chosen from any school in the College of Asia and the Pacific or, with the approval of the College Honours Committee, from another college. This letter should include a statement that the potential supervisor is satisfied that you’re qualified to carry out the proposed research topic within the time available and that they are willing to supervise you. If the chosen supervisor will not be available for significant periods of the honours year, the letter should set out what additional supervisory arrangements will be made.
  3. If you were unable to find or secure a commitment from a suitable supervisor, you must submit either a list of ANU staff who you believe have the qualifications to serve as your supervisor; or a note seeking the Committee’s assistance in finding a supervisor.

In addition to submitting your Honours Proposal application you must also apply for admission or readmission (current students) to The Australian National University.

All groups of students listed below must submit an admission application.

Internal Applicant

a current ANU student, either local or international, currently completing a bachelors degree.

External Applicant

a domestic or international student completing/completed a bachelors degree at a university other than ANU.

ANU Graduates

applying for the honours program more than six months after graduating from an ANU pass degree, for example, graduated from the Bachelor of Asian Studies program in July, and wish to take the College’s honours program in the following year (starting in February).


The result received for your thesis (assessment of your thesis is undertaken by two examiners at the end of the year) will comprise 75% of your final honours result. The other 25% of your honours result is made up of your grade for the honours required course (STST4001 or ASIA4001).

You get to choose the thesis topic you want to pursue: perhaps something that has interested you during earlier studies, or something that you feel is important and which will allow you to build upon your undergraduate studies. It should include a question, proposition or view of sufficient scale and scope to enable you to develop it at length, offer supporting evidence, and address a substantial body of material (this might be a single text, an archive, a social, cultural or political phenomenon, and so on).

While focusing on an issue related to the Asia-Pacific region, the thesis should locate itself within larger disciplinary debates. College staff will help you identify an interesting and challenging research topic which will allow you to get results or reach a conclusion of some kind in the limited time available.

For more detailed information about the honours thesis see the following page: Honours Resources.

Research training course

The CAP Honours program requires you to participate in a 12-unit research training course in semester one of the Honours year.

Students undertaking Honours in Asian studies must take either ASIA4001 Fundamental of Research Desing in Asia-Pacific Culture, History and Languages or STST4001 Fundamentals of Research Design in Asia-Pacific International, Political and Security Studies, depending on their disciplinary interests and Honours thesis topic.

Those undertaking Honours in International Security Studies must take STST4001 Fundamentals of Research Design in Asia-Pacific International, Political and Security Studies.

These research training courses provide basic training in research design, research methods and ethics. Course assessment tasks, including written work, class participation and oral presentations, account for 25 per cent of total assessment in the Honours program.

Honours Convenor, International Security Studies

Dr Nicholas Chan

Honours Convenor, Asian Studies

Dr Chris Ballard

+61 2 6125 0305

CAP Student Centre

+61 2 6125 3207