An honours degree can be complex to supervise. Undergraduate learning involves students actively constructing knowledge within the established boundaries of a known field whereas postgraduate studies aim to have students challenge and extend the boundaries of what is known, making an original contribution to the field. Honours forms a transition between the two. It provides a supported introduction for students in planning, conducting and reporting on an independent piece of research.
- explores a known field through a small, guided research project
- challenges the boundaries of one's own knowledge
- evaluates the appropriateness and value of what is known and constructed.
According to Flinders University policy, the main purpose of an Honours program is to “foster research training”. However, faculties do differ in what their honours programs aim to do. As such, honours supervision differs from other supervision work because:
- projects are limited by time and size,
- it may be the first experience students have of working independently on a large project,
- it may lead to a PhD or be part of a larger research project,
- it develops deeper understandings and challenges students’ own potential by using evidence to support arguments.
There are different models of Honours programs and the supervision requirements associated may differ. Two of the models offered at Flinders University are:
- direct-entry 4 year honours degrees,
- Bachelor entry honours (additional honours year)
The Flinders University policy on Honours programs also includes information on both supervisor and student responsibilities. Support for honours supervision is currently provided by most schools to help staff new to supervising honours develop an understanding of the complexity of the programs. Contact the research manager or honours coordinator in your area for more information.