Honours Chemistry

Honours in Chemistry


'Doing Honours' not only means attending advanced lecture courses but also undertaking a research project. This takes you from the knowledge gained in coursework into the uncertain and unknown world characteristic of a research environment. An Honours year also requires you to learn to communicate the results of your project by way of seminars and in the writing of an Honours thesis. This will allow you to communicate your scientific results and understanding in a clear and unambiguous way to a wider audience. All this needs to be accomplished in a limited time frame!

Honours in chemistry (CHEM4005) is highly respected by potential employers in industry and the public sector and provides a "real world" environment in which to round off your education. During Honours you have the opportunity to undertake project work, work as part of a team, and get to know everyone in the RSC on an informal as well as a formal level. The Honours year is very different from your earlier years at University. As an Honours student you work mostly on your own (with assistance and encouragement from your supervisor and examiners' committee), at your own speed, and you make your own decisions on how your work and research should proceed.

Honours is also a socially rewarding experience that involves interacting with a wide range of fellow students and research staff. Candidates for Honours in chemistry are expected to consolidate their general knowledge in chemistry that has been gained in the undergraduate course, and to gain a considerable body of new knowledge and experience with some freedom of selection within fields of interest of the academic staff, and within the range of facilities available. 

Honours is the usual path in Australia if you wish to continue on to a PhD and pursue a career as a research scientist. It also opens the door to a wider range of career options.  Employers are increasingly looking for Honours graduates, even when the advertised job does not involve scientific research because Honours equips students with the analytical, technical, problem-solving and communication skills required to successfully tackle the challenges of any job.

Key facts

  • Offered in first and second semesters
  • Engage in a research topic in chemistry


Honours in chemistry comprises both a schedule of specific lecture courses and a research project worth at least 50% of the final assessment. This strong research component allows Honours students to develop their research skills, placing them in an excellent position to continue their career, either in academic research or in the industry. Honours students are required to nominate a research project and find an academic supervisor. The supervisor will guide the candidate in the selection of a suitable program of study and will direct the research project. For more information please contact Ali Cook, the RSC Teaching Administrator. 

Research project

Potential projects can stem from our current research activities described in the research section or our academic staff profiles. Some members of staff describe specific projects while others sketch out general areas of research in which projects could be developed.

Each Honours candidate is expected to make use of and gain skills in a range of techniques, and to acquire facility in interpretation of results. The project may involve substantial bench-work, or a purely theoretical emphasis, or some combination of both. The one important point to bear in mind in undertaking a project is that it involves working closely with a member of staff who is supervising the project. The significance of your relationship with your supervisor cannot be overemphasised.

View potential projects


The courses offered in the Honours year are selected to provide a range across the chemistry disciplines. The specific courses available vary from year to year - as an example, the list of courses available for 2020 are listed below. Some courses assume prior study of particular areas at undergraduate level while others have no prerequisite.  Courses offered are such that all Honours students have the opportunity to complete the requisite number of courses, with their chemistry background.

Students are required to complete four courses, each consisting of about eight lectures or equivalent. The courses are chemistry discipline based (organic, inorganic and physical) and given by staff associated with Honours in chemistry.  The best three Honours course marks will be used towards the overall Honours grade, and are collectively worth 30% of a student's final mark. Assessment for these courses is flexible, with some courses assessed by examination (including oral presentation), some by assignment, and some by a combination of the two.  There is no formal enrollment process for courses. It is the students' responsibility to attend the appropriate lectures and complete the examination for whichever four courses they choose. This year's coursework was given by:

  • Dr. Lara Malins: Chemical Protein Synthesis and Bioconjugation
  • Prof. Michelle Coote: Radical Chemistry
  • Dr. Alexey Glushenkov: Material Science of Energy Storage Systems
  • Prof. Tony Hill: Organometallics
  • Dr. Christoph Nitsche: Drug Design and Medicinal Chemistry
  • A/Prof. Mal McLeod: Instrumental Analysis
  • Prof. Edie Sevick: Chemistry of the Ozone Hole

Study load

Honours in chemistry is available both as full time (Chem4005F) or part time (Chem4005P). Contact the Research School of Chemistry teaching department for more information.

Applying for Honours

You can commence your Honours year either in late January or in July. There are a limited number of Honours places available and there are limits on how many students a supervisor may take. Therefore, it is important to make your decision about Honours early. The application deadline is the 15th of December (January start) or the 31st of May (July start).

To qualify for Honours in Chemistry you need to have:

  1. Completed your three-year undergraduate degree i.e. accrued 144 points i.e. the equivalent of a three-year full-time load (four six-point courses per semester)
  2. Completed a Chemistry Major or Biochemistry Major (see exceptions below)
  3. Achieved a minimum average grade of 70% calculated from your six highest marked CHEM2000 and CHEM3000 level courses 
  4. The agreement of a Research School of Chemistry Group Leader to act as your supervisor or co-supervisor.

You may still qualify for Honours in Chemistry even if you only have a Chemistry minor. Chemistry is a multidisciplinary field with researchers at the RSC working in areas that overlap with Engineering, Medicine, Biology, Geology, Materials Science, and Astrophysics, to name a few. If you plan to do your Honours in such an area, undergraduate 2000 and 3000 level courses from areas external to Chemistry, but relevant to your research field, can be counted as part of your admission to the Chemistry Honours program. It is also possible for you to be hosted by the RSC but be enrolled in the Honours program of another ANU School i.e. RSB, RSPhys, etc. 

One of your first steps is to identify a supervisor who will be your principal mentor and academic adviser. You should start looking for a supervisor around the beginning of the final semester of your Bachelor's Degree. Talk to several academics as their ability to accept you as a student in their laboratory depends on many things – the number of other students they currently supervise/co-supervise and whether they will be available for the whole year.

Once you decide on a project in agreement with a supervisor, if you have discussed projects with other supervisors, please let them know as a courtesy. They need to remain informed as it affects their decision to accept other students.

Additional information:

  1. The Chemistry Honours program starts 1-3 weeks prior to the official start of the semester. Future honours students can contact rsc.teaching@anu.edu.au to confirm the actual start date or request information. All students are expected to complete a mandatory safety induction session before commencing any laboratory work.
  2. Students interested in part-time enrollment should discuss this with the Honours Convener: Nick Cox.
  3. You will automatically be assessed for an RSC Honours Scholarship when applying for admission to the Chemistry Honours program.

How to apply for Honours

To apply for admission to Honours in Chemistry you MUST contact the College of Science. Please visit the Website. 

Your application will be assessed by RSC teaching for approval by the Honours Convener. Following approval you will be provided an enrollment code by RSC teaching.

In addition, you need to contact RSC group leaders you are interested in supervising your Honours project. You must contact at least three group leaders. If you are from another university and are interested in applying for an Honours project, please contact the RSC Teaching Administrator for more information. Once you have made a decision you need to complete the online poll found in this Wattle resource. You need to provide three, ranked choices. You can also state which project(s) you are interested in. You can also indicate in your submission your interest in a multi-disciplinary project between two research groups. Such projects are encouraged and would involve joint/co-supervision. 

Potential projects

View the list of research topics available for student intake.

View more

How to apply for honours

To apply for admission to Honours in Chemistry you MUST contact the College of Science. 

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Fees & scholarships


Please visit the Programs and Courses website for information about fees.

View fees


Featured RSC Honours Scholarship

You will automatically be assessed for an RSC Honours Scholarship when applying for admission to the Chemistry Honours program. Honours scholarship is valued at $5,000 p.a.


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