Honours in the School of Geosciences


The School of Geosciences offers Honours in Geography, Geology and Geophysics. Honours in these disciplines requires an original research project to be undertaken under the guidance of a supervisor (and sometimes a co-supervisor), and the presentation of this in the form of a thesis with a maximum of 20,000 words. The thesis accounts for 75% of the Honours grade.

Additionally, Honours students in Geography, Geology and Geophysics are required to give a final oral presentation of their thesis results (worth 5%) and complete an approved coursework program for the remaining 20%. Coursework requirements vary between different disciplines and students.

Entry into the Honours program generally requires completion of a Credit average in Senior Units of Study in either the Geography or Geology & Geophysics majors, and a Weighted Average Mark (WAM) of at least 65. In some years when the number of applicants exceeds resources (availability of supervisors, laboratory space, etc.) offers will be made according to academic merit. The general process for enrolling in Honours is as follows:

  • Each September, the University holds an Honours Information Week. During this week, the School of Geosciences holds an Honours information session. Intending Honours students should seek to attend this session.
  • During the final semester of undergraduate studies, intending Honours students should informally discuss their potential candidature with academics who may feasibly act as their supervisor.
  • Before the University deadline (30 November for currently enrolled students), apply for Honours through the Faculty which administers your degree.
  • Students are officially notified in January of their formal acceptance into the Honours program.

Note that it is possible to commence Honours mid-year. In these cases, the same process described above needs to be followed, however with different closing dates (check the relevant Faculty websites).

Students enrolled in degrees administered by the Faculty of Science should visit the Faculty’s Honours information site for more information about the Honours year, including how to apply, various scholarships that are on offer and other useful material.

Students enrolled in degrees administered by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences need to apply through the FASS Honours information site

Honours Unit of Study: GMT Course

Data Processing and Plotting Using Generic Mapping Tools - click here for more information.

2017 Honours Projects

Ocean Technology Group Project

Ocean Technology Group
Supervisor: Ian S F Jones

Eliminating pollution and its biogeochemical influence in Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour is a slowly recovering urban estuary that has historically been used to dispose of waste. To improve the water quality, modern sources of pollution need to be identified and remedial action undertaken. We have developed a real time model of the hydrodynamics to allow investigation of the currents, salinity and flushing within the estuary.

We are about to embark on the most interesting phase where we calibrate the model against the ongoing surveys of water quality parameters in the harbour. The model is being extended to explain the transport of pollution through the harbor and out to sea and the incorporation of anthropogenic nutrients into the estuarine food web.

Project: Develop a capability with the existing model to predict the primary production response to events and use this to trace the flow of nitrogen and carbon from the urban catchment to the coastal ocean.

The successful applicant will primarily work with computer models, but will also be expected to conduct field work in Sydney Harbour, through the Sydney Institute of Marine Science to collect data on water quality and marine ecology to calibrate and verify the model results.

A basic knowledge of computer programing (R, Matlab, Python) and an interest in verifying and improving numerical models are an advantage. Willingness to undertake fieldwork from a boat and previous experience conducting fieldwork are also advantageous.

Earthbyte Honours Projects

Earthbyte Honours Projects

Geocoastal Reseach Group Honours Projects

Geocoastal Honours projects

Honours and MPhil research projects in Natural Hazards and Disasters 2017 Asia – Pacific Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Research Group

The following research projects are available for 2017 for suitably qualified students under the supervision of Dale Dominey-Howes. For further information, please contact Dale at

Assessing the risk to Australia of solar storms and extreme space weather

Researchers, governments, emergency managers and communities are increasingly recognising the threat posed to modern, technological complex societies from solar storms and extreme space weather events. However, the risk to Australia is not well known and little work has been undertaken to evaluate the hazards, risk and vulnerability. This Honours project will use a hazards geography approach to explore the risk to Australia from solar storms and extreme space weather.

For further information, please contact Dale at


Source: Google Images

Impacts and effects of the September 2009 Sydney dust storm

In September 2009, Sydney (and New South Wales, generally) was affected by one of the largest and most significant dust storms in the last 100 years. Land management practices and climate change mean that such events will become more frequent and intense in the future. The 2009 Sydney dust storm brought transport systems to a halt, resulted in massive business interruption and caused a spike in admissions to hospitals associated with respiratory difficulties. Oddly, despite the massive effects of this dust storm, the impacts have not been well quantified – a significant oversight when attempting to prepare communities for similar events in the future. This Honours project will use a variety of methods to understand the physical earth system dynamics of the September 2009 Sydney dust storm and socio-economic tools to evaluate and quantify its impacts and effects.

For further information, please contact Dale at


Source: www.smh.com.au (23rd September 2009)

Zombie apocalypse! – a geographic reimagination of pandemic risk

Epidemics and pandemics are often (usually) seen the lens of medical, human and animal health. However, epidemics and pandemics are also classic ‘disaster risks’. Pandemic risk actually sits at the top of the Australian risk register as the most likely threat to Australian communities and animal populations. This project with use a ‘hazards geography approach’ to explore what we know and how well prepared Australia and its people are for responding to a serious pandemic event. Insights will shed light on how we might respond to the coming Zombie Apocalypse!

For further information, please contact Dale at


Source: AMC The Walking Dead (Google Images)

Honours topics in Geography

The common practice in Geography, and especially Human Geography, is for students to develop their own topic, in conjunction with their supervisor. Oftentimes this is connected to an existing research project on which the supervisor is working, however it is also possible for supervisors and students to agree on ‘blue sky’ projects, reflecting the individual student interests. Students should familiarise themselves with supervisors' research interests prior to discussing potential thesis topics.

Look for a supervisor at the School of Geosciences.

Honours research in Geography usually involves a field research component, which can be local (in Sydney), in another part of Australia, or overseas. In general, the further distant the research site, the greater the need for forward planning and financial resources. Students contemplating projects involving overseas fieldwork are strongly encouraged to discuss this as early as possible with potential supervisors.

Honours topics in Geology and Geophysics

The common practice in Geology and Geophysics is for students to participate in specified projects that are coordinated by academics.

Honours and MPhil (Science)

Find out more about Honours and MPhil.

More Information

If you have any queries, please contact:

Honours Coordinator
Prof Phil McManus
Room 435, Madsen Building (F09)
Ph: +61 2 9351 4242

Deputy Coordinator
Dr Derek Wyman
Room 433, Madsen Building (F09)
Ph: +61 2 9351 2924