Honours is an extra year of study, usually following immediately on from a pass degree, that combines aspects of undergraduate study with those of post-graduate research. It introduces advanced research training through the completion of a thesis or a creative or practice-based research project.

Students who undertake Bachelors degrees in Australia typically have the opportunity to complete either a Pass degree or an Honours degree. A Pass degree, the standard course followed by most students, is structured around coursework and is usually completed in three years. An Honours degree is available only to students who have a grade average of 70% in a particular program of study, involves both coursework and advanced research training, and has an extra year of university study devoted to it.

View the 2018 Honours Handbook


If you think you might be interested in applying for Honours in 2018, please download this Expression of Interest Form and email it to Dr Paul Dawson (paul.dawson@unsw.edu.au). Please note this form only registers your interest in Honours, and is not an official application form.

Honours Expression of Interest Form

For more information visit the UNSW Arts & Social Sciences Honours page.

How to apply: visit the Arts Honours page

SAM Summer Research Bursaries

The School of the Arts and Media is pleased to announce the SAM Summer Research Bursaries for students beginning Honours in SAM in 2018. This program is designed to give outstanding students the opportunity to develop essential research skills in their specialist area by completing a short project over the summer break ahead of their Honours year.

Applications are invited from students who are eligible to do Honours in any of the following areas: Media; Music; Dance or Theatre and Performance Studies; Film; English or Creative Writing. Research-thesis and practice-based-research-project students are both eligible.

Bursaries of $5000 will be awarded to the applicant with the highest WAM in each Honours discipline. The Summer Bursaries topics and supervisors are listed below.

To apply, students should email the SAM Honours Convenor, Sean Pryor (s.pryor@unsw.edu.au), nominating the bursary project on which they would like to work, stating the title of their proposed Honours thesis or project, and attaching a copy of their current academic record. (The Honours topic MUST be distinct from the Summer Bursary topic.) SAM will confirm final WAMs through UNSW Student Central.

Applications are due by Monday, 20 November 2017. Bursary winners will be contacted by email and announced on the SAM website in mid-December 2017.

Bursary holders will:

  • be attached to a supervisor for the duration of the project, but contact with the supervisor will be limited
  • be expected to produce a 5,000-word research paper by O-Week 2018
  • be expected to present their research at a SAM Honours Bursary Symposium in O-Week 2018
  • be expected to enrol in Honours in the School of the Arts and Media in 2018

For further information, please contact
SAM Honours Convenor, Sean Pryor
+61 2 9385 7315

SAM Summer Bursaries: Topics 2018

English and Creative Writing

Topic: Women's literature
Supervisor: Anne Brewster

Topic: Race, ethnicity and whiteness in literature
Supervisor: Anne Brewster

Topic: Aboriginal literature
Supervisor: Anne Brewster

Topic: War poems: verses on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
Supervisor: Laetitia Nanquette

Topic: 9/11 as narrated by Muslim novelists
Supervisor: Laetitia Nanquette

Topic: Literary blogs in English and their role in the American and/or British and/or Australian literary field
Supervisor: Laetitia Nanquette

Topic: An analysis of Amazon reviews and reviewers: new criticism, new critics?
Supervisor: Laetitia Nanquette

Topic: Capitalism and literature
Supervisor: Sean Pryor

Topics: What is poetry, and what is it good for?
Supervisor: Sean Pryor

Topics: The place of poetry in the contemporary world
Supervisor: Sean Pryor


Topic: Film Studies
Supervisor: Michelle Langford


Topic: Communication for Social Change and Refugees: An analysis of the Australian experience
Supervisor: Valentina Bau

Topic: Refugees telling their stories: An assessment of Settlement Services International & CuriousWorks’ video project
Supervisor: Valentina Bau

Topic: Media power in an era of digital capitalism
Supervisor: Collin Chua

Topic: Innovation, disruption, and the political economy of media/communication
Supervisor: Collin Chua

Topic: Advertising and the production of desire in an attention economy
Supervisor: Collin Chua

Topic: Media and multiculturalism
Supervisor: Tanja Dreher

Topic: Media and social justice
Supervisor: Tanja Dreher

Topic: Antiracism online
Supervisor: Tanja Dreher

Topic: The politics of listening
Supervisor: Tanja Dreher

Topic: Data and discrimination
Supervisor: Tanja Dreher

Topic: A range of topics in the analysis of visual media, such as social media, visual ideologies and racism, branding and advertising, photojournalism.
Supervisors: Theo van Leeuwen, Louise Ravelli, Peter White, Michele Zappavigna

Topic: Exploring the nature of organisational meaning in websites
Supervisor: Louise Ravelli

Topic: Investigating the meaning of memes
Supervisor: Louise Ravelli

Topic: Exploring the visual genres of Instagram
Supervisor: Louise Ravelli

Topic: Affect in media or politics
Supervisor: Michael Richardson

Topic: Apocalypse in media
Supervisor: Michael Richardson

Topic: Media and the representation of trauma
Supervisor: Michael Richardson

Topic: Political communication and the 20016 US Election
Supervisor: Michael Richardson

Topic: Animation production
Supervisor: Alyssa Rothwell


Topic: How do researchers define a musician? When do we call someone a ‘musician’? Is it based on how well they play, how much they know about music, where they were trained, or some other criterion? Is it a combination of these things? Researchers performing comparative investigations of so-called ‘musicians’ versus ‘non-musicians’ are faced with solving this question. In some sub-disciplines, in particular music-psychology, we often find highly simplistic solutions, such as defining a musician as someone who has had more than 2 years of music lessons. The topic involves cataloguing a number of solutions proposed, and assessing their validity in addressing this important, implicit, but poorly understood question. The topic is part of a larger project that is nearing its conclusion, and offers an important opportunity for publication in an important journal for a suitably motivated candidate. The project also presents an important springboard into further research.
Supervisor: Emery Schubert

Topic: Consider that we have no earlids (Schafer, 1993). What are the implications of this openness to sound during sleep? In particular, how can music or sound be composed to support sleeping (and dreaming) in children?
Supervisor(s): Adam Hulbert/Emery Schubert

Topic: Music is good for you—? For musicians, it may seem obvious that we learn music for its own sake; but for policy makers, carers and children, other reasons may seem more significant, with music education often justified in terms of its personal, social and cultural value. What is the current state of play in research that attempts to evaluate the non-musical benefits of learning music?
Supervisor: Kim Burwell

Topic: Personal characteristics in interpreting Beethoven’s and Brahms’s violin sonatas: choose two violinists from a comparable period (i.e. two contemporaries of each-other) and study their recordings of at least one sonata of each named composer.
Supervisor: Dorottya Fabian

Topic: The role of UNSW Opera and UNSW Music Department in promoting early music in Sydney during the 1970s: A study of historical records including press reception.
Supervisor: Dorottya Fabian

Topic: Did Australian Music end?
Supervisor: Michael Hooper

Topic: Ethnography of Music: Through interview and observation methods investigate the role of music in the everyday lives of selected individuals from specific ages, genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
Supervisors: Manolete Mora, John Napier

Topic: Performance/Composition: In what ways can my own creative (performance/composition/sonic arts) practice be situated in relation to X or X, X? (X can be a particular school/approach/aesthetic or an artist/performer/collective.)
Supervisor: Flexible

Theatre and Performance Studies

Topic: Performance, document, history: Conduct some research into the Stables theatre, home of the Griffin Theatre Company, for the upcoming 50th anniversary or Performance Space for their upcoming 35th; OR Conduct research into a particular performance or company in archives such as Sydney University, State Library, etc; OR Carry out a data visualisation project, using the data held by AusStage.
Supervisors: Jonathan Bollen or Caroline Wake

Topic: Performance Analysis, Sydney Festival 2018: Prepare either a close reading, a thick description, or a performance review of 1–2 theatre, dance or performance events in the Sydney Festival 2018.
Supervisors: Meg Mumford, Caroline Wake, Bryoni Trezise, Erin Brannigan, Theron Schmidt

Topic: Performance, professionals and amateurs: What are some of the ways participants without prior institutional training have been used in either theatre or dance? What have been some of the key impacts? Students in theatre could look at either historical or contemporary theatres of the real e.g. documentary theatre, verbatim theatre, or real people on stage, depending on their interest. Students in performance could consider relational and post-relational aesthetics on stage, in the gallery and elsewhere. Students in dance could consider the impact of ‘untrained’ choreographers in early 21st-century work.
Supervisors: Meg Mumford, Caroline Wake, Bryoni Trezise, Erin Brannigan

Topic: Practising performance: From the basis of your own developing performance practice, or by researching the working methods of a contemporary performance practitioner or choreographer of your choice (or both!), identify some of the ways in which performance practices and processes might offer an aesthetics that is counter to, or resistive of, the demands of an increasingly performance-focussed society, even if only in some small way.
Supervisor: Bryoni Trezise, Erin Brannigan

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