Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility requirements to be accepted into the Honours program?

  1. You need to have completed at least 160 credit points of your law course (which is usually the end of fourth year for undergraduate students) (or 140 credit points if you are undertaking two Summer session units) and no more than 200 credit points; and
  2. You must demonstrate the likelihood of graduating with an Honours Weighted Average Mark (HWAM) of at least 70 at the time of graduation; and
  3. You must submit a Nomination of Topics form which expresses preferences among supervisor-defined topics and/or describes your student-defined topic in a scholarly manner (see 'Nomination of Topics form' for further information); and
  4. You must demonstrate satisfactory academic writing skills; and
  5. A principal supervisor must be appointed (including, where appropriate, allocation to a supervisor-defined topic).

Requirement 2 (HWAM) can be fulfilled by demonstrating an Admission Average Mark (AAM) of at least 70 at the time of admission to the Honours program.

You can speak directly with Law School academic staff about the possibility of supervision or you can ask the Law School Honours Program Coordinator for advice and assistance (lawhonours@westernsydney.edu.au).

When do I need to apply by?

The final date for submitting an application to enrol in the Honours Program is 11:59pm on the Friday before the week before Week 1 of Autumn semester (i.e. the Friday before O-week). For 2021, the relevant date is Friday, 19 February 2021. However, you are strongly encouraged to apply before this date, if possible. (Note the date has been brought forward slightly from what was previously stated in this FAQ).

How do I apply?
The only way to apply is via the online application form, which is found on the Honours in Law page. 

What happens after I apply?
The School of Law will notify you via an email to your student e-mail account whether your application has been successful or not, usually within one week of your application. Notifications as to the allocation of supervisor-defined topics will follow after the application deadline. If you are accepted into the Honours program for the forthcoming teaching session, the School of Law will then arrange to have you enrolled in unit 200700 Law Honours Dissertation and you will subsequently have access to the Honours vUWS page.

How is my ‘Honours Level’ determined when I graduate?
The calculation of your Honours Award Level (or ‘class of Honours’) is based on your Honours Average Weighted Mark (HWAM) at the time of graduation.

Honours Award LevelThreshold
First Class Honours:HWAM of 80 or higher
Second Class Honours, Division 1:HWAM of 75 or higher
Second Class Honours, Division 2:HWAM of 70 or higher

If your HWAM is below 70, then an Honours level is not awarded. Third Class Honours is not awarded in the Bachelor of Laws.

Note:

*If you commenced your LLB degree in 2007 or earlier then you may elect to take the benefit of the new rules by applying to be accepted into the School of Law's honours program. Please contact Unit Coordinator to discuss.

**If you commenced a combined degree in 2006 but changed to the non-graduate entry LLB degree program in 2008 only the new rules apply. Please contact Unit Coordinator to discuss.

What is my HWAM?

HWAM (Honours Weighted Average Mark) is the way the School of Law determines your level of achievement in the Honours program and we use it as a guide to admission.

In the calculation of a student's Honours Weighted Average Mark:

  • Only Bachelor of Law units are included;
  • Compulsory Fail (CF) grades are assigned a numeric mark of 42%;
  • In the case of units you have failed, the Fail result and the results in any re-attempts are included, subject to the exclusion rules below;
  • The results in your non-Honours units are allocated a 0.66 (66%) weighting and the result in the Honours unit, 200700 Law Honours Dissertation, is allocated a 0.34 (34%) weighting;
  • The units, other than 200700 Law Honours Dissertation, with the two lowest results are excluded;
  • There is no rounding of HWAM once calculated.

The HWAM is calculated in accordance with the following formula:

HWAM = (((Sum of marks in all non-Honours law units) - (sum of marks in two lowest non-Honours law units))/((Number of non-Honours units) - 2)*0.66) + ((Mark in 200700) *0.34)

HWAM=

(((Sum of marks in all non-Honours law units)

-

(sum of marks in two lowest non-Honours law units))

/

((Number of non-Honours law units) -2)*0.66)

+

((Mark in 200700) *0.34)

Note: 'non-Honours law unit' does not include any units obtained by Advanced Standing or on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis; it does include Fails and Compulsory Fails (which are included at the nominal value of 42).

You can calculate your current and projected HWAM using the AAM/GPA Ready Reckoner on the Honours in Law website.

What is my AAM?

Your AAM (Admission Average Mark) is one way of demonstrating your level of academic achievement and is sufficient to enter the Honours program.

In the calculation of the Admission Average Mark:

  • Only Bachelor of Law units are included;
  • Compulsory Fail (CF) grades are assigned a numeric mark of 42%;
  • In the case of units you have failed, the Fail result and the results in any re-attempts are included, subject to the exclusion rules below;
  • Any units obtained by Advanced Standing or on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis are not included;
  • Your units with the two lowest results are excluded.

The AAM is calculated at the time of determining your admission to the Honours program and in accordance with the following formula:

AAM = ((Sum of marks in all completed law units) - (sum of marks in the two lowest completed law units))/((Number of completed law units)-2)

AAM=

((Sum of marks in all completed law units)

-

(sum of marks in two lowest completed law units))

/

((Number of completed law units) - 2)

You can calculate your AAM using the HWAM/AAM Ready Reckoner on the Honours in Law website.

What is the Nomination of Topics form?

The Nomination of Topics form allows you to nominate up to 5 topics (Part A), of which one can be defined by you. The rest (or all five) will be taken from a list of supervisor-defined topics (and no more than two with any one supervisor).

If you nominate any supervisor-defined topics, you can (but don’t have to) provide evidence of pre-existing interest or expertise in some or all of those (Part B, maximum 500 words).

If you nominate a student-defined topic, you are required to provide a brief overview of research that you would like to undertake (Part C, the Statement of Intent).

You are encouraged to consult with your intended supervisor(s) when completing the Nomination of Topics form, especially if you are wishing to define your own topic. The Statement of Intent in Part C is less detailed than a formal Research Proposal. Download the Nomination of Topics Form.

As a guide, the Statement of Intent in Part C should be around 500 words (excluding headings and footnotes) and should address the following aspects:

  • Area of research or research topic (or research question, if developed);
  • Significance of proposed research (why is this research important to do now?); and
  • Brief literature review (discuss and explain at least five relevant legal sources).

How should I choose between supervisor-defined topics and student-defined?

Student-defined topics are an excellent choice for students who have a strong interest in a particular field, provided there is a member of the academic staff who has expertise in that field and is available to supervise. Such arrangements have been known to work very well in the past.

Supervisor-defined topics are a new approach we are introducing this year, and it is expected that they will suit many students better because they take out some of the guesswork. If you don’t have a burning interest in some topic, you can do one that your supervisor has defined, and you know that person has a strong interest in the topic, and strong expertise as well. Law School staff only take on topics they can supervise effectively, but with these topics you will have the opportunity to be part of your supervisor’s ongoing research, which has the potential to be an even more rewarding experience. Also, if you have a strong preference for a particular supervisor, nominating that person’s topics will give you a better chance of being paired with him or her. (But note you can’t nominate more than two topics from the same supervisor.)

Note that you don’t really have to choose between the two types of topics, as you can nominate both. However you will have to decide what priority to give to any topic you have defined yourself (1-5). The Honours Coordinator will be happy to talk this over with you if you are unsure (lawhonours@westernsydney.edu.au).

What is an example of satisfactory academic writing skills?

You need to prove you can write an extended argument (not just answer a problem question in an exam) so we ask you to submit an assignment that demonstrates your writing and research skills as part of the online application form. Choose perhaps the assignment for which you received a high rating on a writing-related assessment criterion or maybe one you were really proud of.

Can I be considered for Honours if I am not accepted into the Honours program?

No, since you cannot enrol in or complete the unit 200700 Law Honours Dissertation, which is an essential requirement for Honours, then you cannot be awarded an Honours level at graduation. Note: If you commenced the LLB degree program from which you are seeking to graduate in 2007 or before you may still be eligible for Honours. Contact the School Honours Program Coordinator to discuss options (lawhonours@westernsydney.edu.au).

What does the Honours program actually involve?

The Honours program is a year-long 20 credit point unit (10 credit points each semester). During that time, you attend fortnightly seminars run by the Honours Program Coordinator and meet regularly with your supervisor. Seminars cover a diverse range of topics, including advanced research, writing and analytical skills, as well as conversations with guest speakers and former Honours students. Attendance at seminars is compulsory.  During the year, you will be researching and writing your dissertation, under supervision. At the end of Spring semester, you must submit an 10,000-12,000 word dissertation on an approved topic in law. During the year, there are a number of assessments linked to your dissertation – a written research proposal, an oral presentation of the research proposal, a written literature review, a draft of your dissertation and an oral presentation of your final dissertation (two weeks before the dissertation is submitted). Each of these assessments is marked on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis and your grade in the unit is based solely on your dissertation mark.

How is the Honours dissertation marked?

Unlike other assessments, the Honours dissertation is marked by two examiners who are not your supervisor. In general, the expectation is that one marker is internal to Western Sydney University and one marker is external to the University. Each examiner submits a formal report, which is provided to the supervisor and the student, although the examiner’s identity remains confidential unless that confidentiality is waived by the examiner. The final mark for the dissertation is determined in accordance with the University’s Honours in Bachelor Awards Policy and the School of Law Honours Award Guidelines.

How does enrolling in Honours effect my other alternate units?

This unit is worth 20 credit points (10 credit points in Autumn, 10 credit points in Spring) and it takes the place of two law alternate units. If you undertake this unit, you will still need to complete six other law alternate units to be eligible to graduate.

How do I choose a supervisor?

Selecting the right supervisor is very important, especially if you are defining your own topic. You should start with a consideration of who you think you might get on well with and who is an expert in an area you might want to research. You can find more information about the expertise and background of Law academic staff via the Law School webpage and the University staff directory (there are links on the Topic Nomination form to all the staff who have put up their own topics).

If you are hoping to define your own topic you should then meet with your prospective supervisor to discuss both their availability and their interest in your topic, and to assess whether you think you might be able to work with them. If you are nominating only supervisor-defined topics, you are still welcome to seek relevant staff out for a conversation.

If you are unsure where to start, email the Honours Program Coordinator, who can make suggestions (lawhonours@westernsydney.edu.au).  Ultimately, decisions about supervision are made by the Dean of the Law School, on the recommendation of the Honours Program Coordinator.

How do I choose a topic?

Look closely at the list of supervisor-defined topics and think about what you have a passion for. Think about what interested or intrigued you most when studying a unit or topic. If you are doing a combined degree, think about how you might marry knowledge from that degree with research in law. Think about what you might want to do after graduation.

If there is something that appeals to you that is not on the list, then start writing. If you can put down 200-300 words on a topic and it sounds interesting to you, then that might be a good direction to head in.

You do not need to finalise your student-defined dissertation topic before submitting an application – you just need to demonstrate that you have begun the process of identifying and, possibly, narrowing the field of interest. If you are nominating only supervisor-defined topics, you have the opportunity (but are not required) to demonstrate interest and/or expertise in those topics.