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 2017 Honours Handbook

If you think you might be interested in applying for Honours in 2017, please download this Expression of Interest Form and submit it to Dr Sean Pryor by Friday 28 October 216. Please note this form is not an application form, it is just to register your interest.

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 2017. This program is designed to give outstanding students the opportunity to develop important foundational 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; Theatre and Performance or Dance; 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, and applicants should nominate one or two topics they would like to work on.

Applications should include a current academic record and the title of a proposed Honours thesis or project. (The Honours topic MUST be distinct from the Summer Bursary topic). SAM will confirm final WAMs through UNSW Student Central.

Applications are due by email to the SAM Honours Convenor, Sean Pryor (s.pryor@unsw.edu.au) by 21 November 2016. Bursary winners will be contacted by email and announced on the SAM website in mid-December 2016.

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 present their research at a SAM Honours Bursary Symposium in O-Week 2017.
  • be expected to enrol in Honours in the School of the Arts and Media in 2017.

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

SAM Summer Bursaries: Topics 2016

English and Creative Writing

Topic: Australian Literature
Supervisor: Anne Brewster

Topic: Aboriginal Literature
Supervisor: Anne Brewster

Topic: Creative Writing
Supervisor: Anne Brewster

Topic: Fictocriticism
Supervisor: Anne Brewster

Topic: Race and Gender Studies
Supervisor: Anne Brewster

Topic: Women’s Writing
Supervisor: Anne Brewster

Topic: The Australian Spatial Imaginary
Possible Supervisors: Elizabeth McMahon or Brigitta Olubas

Topic: Local (or regional) Modernism/s
Possible Supervisors: Elizabeth McMahon or Brigitta Olubas

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: Slow cinema and felt time
Supervisor: Jodi Brooks

Topic: The cinema of Kelly Reichardt
Supervisor: Jodi Brooks

Topic: The cinema of Andrea Arnold
Supervisor: Jodi Brooks

Topic: Cinema in relation to political economy
Supervisor: Mark Steven

Topic: Cinema in relation to political struggle or revolution
Supervisor: Mark Steven

Topic: Cinema in relation to capitalism and its crises
Supervisor: Mark Steven

Topic: Cinema in relation to communism, socialism, or Marxism
Supervisor: Mark Steven

Topic: Horror in cinema
Supervisor: Mark Steven


Topic: In-depth analysis of a digital game focusing on either form, genre, player experience, fan community or the game design production context.
Possible supervisors: Brigid Costello, Michael Richardson, Tom Apperley

Topic: Communicating with Communities: What do we know about the use of the media in humanitarian emergencies?
Supervisor: Valentina Baú

Topic: From humanitarian to development communication: Outreach strategies in refugee camps.
Supervisor: Valentina Baú

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

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: Digital labour in the sharing economy
Supervisor: Elaine Zhou

Topic: Copyright, creativity and innovation in the digital economy
Supervisor: Elaine Zhou

Topic: Online screen ecology
Supervisor: Elaine Zhou

Topic: Brand co-creation
Supervisor: Elaine Zhou

Topic: Digital media and cultures in Asia
Supervisor: Elaine Zhou


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: Early vocal style on record: Singing bel canto at the turn of the 20th century.
Supervisor: Dorottya Fabian

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

Dance, Theatre and Performance

Topic: Theatre, performance, and mobility: Which Australian companies tour overseas (2006-16)? Where are they going and what are they showing? What Australian plays are given international productions? How does circulation beyond the nation inform critical response to the work?
Supervisor: Jonathan Bollen

Topic: Performance, document, archive: Carry out one data visualisation project. OR: reconstruct one or more performance events by undertaking research in relevant archives such as Performance Space, Sydney University, State Library, etc.
Supervisors: Jonathan Bollen or Caroline Wake

Topic: Performance Analysis, Sydney Festival 2017: Prepare either a close reading, a thick description, or a performance review of 1–2 performance events in the Sydney Festival 2016.
Supervisors: Jonathan Bollen, Meg Mumford, Caroline Wake, Bryoni Trezise

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

Topic: Practising performance: From the basis of your own developing performance practice, or by researching the working methods of a contemporary performance practitioner 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

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