About Honours

The fourth year Honours programs in the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of International Studies provide an exciting opportunity for students to develop their research skills and acquire specialist knowledge of a chosen topic. The program is based on a combination of coursework and an independent research project.

Honours is a challenging year which allows the best undergraduate students to realise their full academic potential.

For initial and administrative enquiries please email the School at polsis@uq.edu.au

Why do an Honours year?

Many students take Honours to push themselves intellectually and explore a particular topic that interests them. Honours requires and fosters independent thinking, project management and academic engagement. Studying Honours in our Graduate Centre offers students a unique opportunity to develop these skills intensively as part of a small and highly engaged cohort.

Honours is one of the most common pathways into research higher degrees, and can be a first step in preparing for an academic career.

An Honours degree is also an attractive credential for those seeking employment in the public or private sector, as it offers students the opportunity to further develop their analytical and research skills. It is particularly highly regarded in some parts of the Australian public sector as it demonstrates a capacity for high-level independent thinking and research.

What will I study in Honours?

The Honours program involves a year-long research thesis and two year-long coursework subjects designed to enrich students’ research.
  • In POLS6305 Honours Research Thesis (#8 – 50%), students develop research skills and experience planning and executing a major study. Students will independently plan, research and write a 16,000 word thesis on a topic of their choice with the support of an academic supervisor. 
  • In POLS6315 Creativity and Design in Political Research (#4 – 25%), students learn how to undertake creative and interesting research, driven by good research questions, grounded in the discipline of political science, using illuminating and appropriate methods
  • In POLS6325 Frontiers of Research (#4 – 25%), students engage with cutting edge research in the discipline through a selection of intensively taught masterclasses exploring the current projects of leading POLSIS researchers

All three Honours courses require enrolment over two semesters.  Students are required to balance intensive phases of engagement in a research centred environment on campus with independent work on their own projects.  

We encourage full-time enrolment in the Honours program, however Honours may also be completed over a maximum of four consecutive semesters on a part-time basis. 

Students studying full-time enrol in POLS6305, POLS6315, and POLS6325 in semester 1.

Students studying part-time enrol in POLS6315 and POLS6325 in semester 1 and semester 2 in the first year and POLS6305 in semester 1 and semester 2 in the second year.

Am I eligible for Honours?

Honours is a selective program that requires students to have demonstrated academic achievement in the discipline.

To be eligible for POLSIS Honours programs, you need to:

  • have recently graduated and completed a major in political science, international relations, public policy or peace and conflict studies
  • have a grade point average of 5.5 or better from this major
  • have agreement from a staff member to supervise your work on a proposed topic.

The Head of School may waive one or more of these requirements under certain circumstances.  If you have questions or are concerned about your eligibility, please contact the Honours Coordinator for advice.

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. This should consist of two paragraphs, be no more than 300 words in length, and follow this format:

Para 1 – state general topic, leading issues, and one or two seminal works

Para 2 – state your proposed research questions and likely method, and possible data sources (if any)

The Research Proposal is not assessed, it is simply a document that indicates to the School your broad area, and gets you thinking about seriously about the project.

Supervisors can be in demand, so it’s good to start thinking about your topic and potential supervisors well before applications are due. Write to members of academic staff who might be interested in your topic and ask for a meeting to discuss your ideas. There is no need to be shy – having such meetings is a routine aspect of academic work.

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

1. 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

2. 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 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.

3. 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

4. Develop a Research Proposal

  • Once you’ve secured a supervisor and had some advice on your topic, write the 250-300 word Research Proposal to attach to your application for Honours

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

How do I apply for Honours?

We encourage students to submit their applications for Honours as early as possible, rather than waiting until the deadline. This gives you the best chance of securing your preferred supervisor, and will also mean you can start planning your studies early.

Once you have prepared all required documentation and secured a supervisor, please submit your online application here


For academic advice contact the Honours Coordinator: Dr Elizabeth Strakosch 
Email: e.strakosch@uq.edu.au

Telephone: +61 7 3365 2858
Facsimile: +61 7 3365 1388
Email: polsis@uq.edu.au