How do I choose a topic and supervisor?

Before applying for Honours, you’ll need to choose a thesis topic and find an academic staff member within the school who agrees to supervise your project.  Once you’ve chosen your topic and a supervisor, you’ll write a short Research Proposal setting out your ideas to attach to your Honours application.

Supervisors can be in demand, so it’s good to start thinking about your topic and potential supervisors well before applications are due.  This process can take time, but don’t be intimidated or discouraged.  Remember – you can always contact us if you need help or advice.

Here are some hints and ideas to help you get started.

First, think about possible topics!

  • Identify a general area, problem or issue that you’d like to explore
  • If you’re having difficulty, think about any undergraduate courses, assignments or lecturers that stood out to you.  
  • Some students wish to pursue projects that overlap with their professional or political interests.

Second, identify potential supervisors

  • Check the listing of our academic staff on the POLSIS website to see whose research or approach might interest you. It is very common to for students to approach potential supervisors without prior contact or any existing relationship - so don’t be nervous.
  • Consider contact you’ve had with POLSIS staff during your undergraduate studies
  • Be aware that some supervisors are in high demand, at full supervision capacity or going on research leave - so try to identify a few different possible supervisors.

Third, approach staff!

  • Once you’ve identified a preferred supervisor, email them directly
  • Introduce yourself, including a few paragraphs about your research interests and chosen topic – plus some research questions interest you in that area if possible.
  • Ask if they would be interested and able to supervise you.  If you are local, ask if they would consider meeting you to discuss the possibility. If they are not available or able to supervise you, ask for suggestions about other suitable supervisors.
  • Consider any feedback given and whether you need to refine your area of interest – is your topic too broad, too specific, or not a current question in the discipline?
  • If your preferred supervisor isn’t available, try again and approach someone else.

Fourth, develop a Research Proposal

  • Once you’ve secured a supervisor and had some advice on your topic, you’ll write a 300-500 word Research Proposal to attach to your application for Honours
  • Your Research Proposal is an outline of what your thesis project will involve. It should give background to your topic, your research question, identify methods you may use as well as some academic literature you may consult.
  • Your proposal isn’t expected to be polished or show advanced research, but Research Proposals should indicate a research project that could develop into a thesis with the time and support available.


If you have questions or need assistance finding a topic, identifying possible supervisors, or writing a Research Proposal, please contact the Honours Coordinator.