Honours in Computer Science consists of an additional year of study on top of your existing undergraduate degree in Science or Advanced Computing.
Honours is a rigorous program of study, half of which is spent on advanced coursework, with the other half dedicated to an individual research project.
You can start your Honours year in Semester 1 or 2 at The Australian National University (ANU).
The coursework will take your understanding of selected areas of computing to a new level, while exposing you to other areas not covered in the pass degree. It will also include training in research methods. Your project, for which you will receive individual supervision from an experienced researcher, will allow you to demonstrate just what you can accomplish. Finally, when you graduate, your Honours degree will set you apart from the rest.
Note: Much of the information about the Honours year also applies to four year degree programs with embedded Honours. For final year 24-unit projects for BAC and BSEng degrees, contact the Honours Convener. When contacting the Honours Convener, please always include the word Honours in your subject line.
For up to date information about Honours thesis topics, please see below. Additional details about Honours at ANU can be found in the College of Science Honours handbook.
Admission to the Honours program is available to students undertaking a relevant undergraduate degree, e.g. Bachelor of Advanced Computing, Bachelor of Information Technology, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Philosophy. All applications for admission are considered on their individual merits, with admission at the discretion of the School Director. Normally applicants must meet the following minimum criteria, although meeting these does not guarantee admission.
- Completion (or imminent completion) of the requirements for a relevant undergraduate degree.
- Completion of a Computer Science major or equivalent coursework background in computer science.
- Completion of 36 units of courses in computer science or a cognate discipline, excluding 1000-level courses, with an average grade equivalent to Distinction (minimum 70).
The Honours program includes advanced coursework worth 50 per cent of the year, and a major individual project examined by a dissertation, also worth 50 per cent of the year. An Honours grade is awarded on the result of the whole year's work, although the individual course marks will also appear on your academic transcript. Your selection of courses (subjects) and research project is made within the department once your enrolment has been accepted.
Current ANU students
If you meet the above admission requirements, in the later half of Semester 2 (or of Semester 1 if you start your Honours year in Semester 2) you should email the Honours Convener to discuss your intention to apply for admission to the Honours program. You should provide the Honours convener with a copy of your academic results (a transcript or a printout from ISIS) together with a brief note stating that you wish to be considered for admission to the Honours program. Once you identified a project and a supervisor from the School of Computing (or Adjunct) who agrees to supervise you for a 24 unit Honours project, please complete the project registration form. Once your form is approved (which might take a while during busy periods), you will be able to enrol in the appropriate courses (see below) via ISIS in the usual way.
Students undertaking a 24 unit Honours project enrol in the course COMP4550 for their thesis project (Software Engineering students enrol into COMP4540). Note that this course consists of 12 units in each of two successive semesters. Under exceptional circumstances, you can ask the Convenor for permission to conduct the project as 6 units + 18 units, or 18 units + 6 units over two semester, although this is not recommended.
(This includes students from other universities and former ANU students.)
Applications for admission to the BSc (Hons) should be made online, via the "Apply" button on the BSc Honours webpage. Note that applications to commence Honours in Semester 1 the following year close on 30 November, although late applications may be considered.
You should notify the Honours Convener as soon as possible of your intention to apply and lodge your application as soon as you are able to obtain a transcript of your academic record from your current institution.
As in the case of an ANU student, you will need to identify a project and a supervisor, and complete the project registration form before the project can commence.
There are a variety of scholarships available to help you fund your honours studies.
Some scholarships are won in open competition against students across Australia vying to receive funding to study at their institution of choice, other scholarships are specific to ANU, and a few are specific to the Honours program. Some of our partner organisations, for example ASD-ANU Co-Lab, offer funding to students who study an Honours project with them.
Students undertaking an Honours year will take 24 units of coursework and a research project worth 24 units. They enrol online in courses through ISIS, though permission codes may be required in some cases.
The course COMP4450 (Advanced Computing R&D Methods) must be taken as part of the coursework component of Honours, unless you have done the equivalent COMP2550 previously.
Generally speaking, you enrol in courses with COMP4XXX codes, or possibly in COMP8XXX courses if these do not have 4000-level equivalents. You may be able to count certain 3000-level courses as part of your Honours year, especially if they are relevant to your thesis and for some reason you have not done them before. You may be assigned extra assessment components for a 3000-level course in comparison with the third year students. Permission of the Honours convener is required before you can take any course below the 4000 level.
It is not uncommon that a course offered by a different department (e.g. a course with a MATH or ENGN code) may suit your requirements better than a COMP course. Again, talk to the Honours convener if this applies to you.
It is generally a good idea to consult your Honours project supervisor before the start of your Honours year about courses that may be important, useful or interesting for you.
Half of your time as an Honours student is spent working on a project. Your project work will be supervised by someone who can offer you both general guidance on project work and advice more specific to the nature of the project.
Project topics are described on the Projects webpage. Note that the list of advertised projects is by default incomplete and only indicative of the research interests of potential supervisors, but may be changed by discussion with the supervisor concerned. It is the responsibility of the applicant to contact potential supervisors in order to discuss possible projects. If you are interested in a particular area, you should also browse the homepages of our researchers, identify topics that interest you and contact the respective people. Your supervisor has to be a staff member, adjunct or honorary member of the School of Computing. You can have supervisors that do not meet this requirement, provided that you have an additional co-supervisor who does.
There are various project milestones and deliverables that are due at different points during the year.
Note: The dates given below are indicative and are subject to change.
|Feb 2021||July 2021||Feb 2022||July 2022|
|Starting date||22 Feb 2021||26 July 2021||21 Feb 2022||24 July 2022|
|Introductory seminar||Mar-Apr 2021||Aug-Sep 2020||Mar-Apr 2022||Aug-Sep 2022|
|Pro-forma thesis and literature review||30 Mar 2021||31 Aug 2021||30 March 2022||31 Aug 2022|
|Mid-term seminar||July-Aug 2021||Feb-Mar 2022||July-Aug 2022||Feb-Mar 2023|
|Draft thesis||7 Oct 2021||5 May 2022||8 Oct 2022||9 May 2023|
|Thesis due||28 Oct 2021||26 May 2022||27 Oct 2022||30 May 2023|
|Final seminar||Nov 2021||Jun 2022||Nov 2022||June 2023|
BSc Honours students are bound by conditions laid down from time to time by the Science Faculty Honours Committee (of which the CS Honours Convener is a member). See the Science Honours working rules.
Before the start of the semester, all intending honours students should review the available project topics, agree a proposal with the intended supervisor and complete the project registration form. The absolute deadline for late applications is the second Friday of the ordinary teaching semester, but it is strongly recommended that you complete the project registration earlier - before the semester starts if possible. If your proposed research involves the collection of data from human participants you will have to apply for ANU Human Ethics approval prior to beginning data collection. Please discuss this with your supervisor and initiate the approval process as early as possible as it may take longer than 8 weeks to get the approval.
Students will present a five minute talk introducing themselves, their projected area and their topic. The audience will mostly consist of their fellow students and supervisors. This normally takes place in week 5, 6 or 7 of the semester (after the mid-term talks from students who started in the previous semester are completed).
The introductory seminar will not count towards your assessment.
Pro-forma thesis and literature review
By the end of week 6, all Honours students should have formulated a detailed project proposal in collaboration with their supervisor, and completed a literature review.
The project proposal should consist of the following:
- A description of your project topic. This need be only half a page to a page of text.
- A project plan outlining the various steps you intend to take along the way to completing your project, and the dates by which you expect to accomplish them. You should also outline contingency plans outlining how the scope of the project might change if various steps prove to be significantly harder or easier than you anticipate.
- A one paragraph description of the research content of the project. Honours projects are expected to prepare the student for more challenging research tasks. As such, projects that purely based on literature surveys or mere implementation work are not appropriate. Your project must, at least in part, require the application of theoretical or experimental research techniques. Some projects do have a large implementation component; in such cases there should be clear originality on the part of the student and emphasis on evaluation of the software produced.
Your literature review must demonstrate an awareness of the major research efforts in the area of your topic and how they compare with what you propose to do. You should think of your literature survey as the first draft of the "background" section of your thesis. It will normally be extended and elaborated later as your project progresses.
Students should hand a printed pro-forma thesis to their supervisor at the same time as the project proposal. The document should use the supplied LaTeX thesis package and include relevant chapter headings as well as your literature review. It can be changed later, of course, but forms a useful framework for the eventual thesis.
Neither the project proposal nor the literature survey will contribute directly towards your final grade, but they will allow your supervisor to gauge your progress thus far and give you appropriate feedback. They are also valuable in setting the framework for your later work.
You will find instructions on the wattle page how to submit your literature review and pro-forma thesis.
Students will present a 15-minute seminar (including time for questions) describing their topic and the progress they have made to date. The seminar is assessed for content and presentation and counts for 5% of your overall project mark.
Your midterm presentation takes place either towards the end of the first semester of your project or at the start of your second semester.
Students must hand a complete draft of their thesis to their supervisor for review by three weeks before submission at the latest. It is very important to get detailed feedback on the thesis in time to make revisions. Supervisors should note that providing timely feedback on the draft thesis is an important part of their job. Do not attempt to leave large parts of writing up your thesis until the last few days: it takes longer than you think, and extensions of time to submit will only be given in exceptional circumstances beyond your control. You will find instructions on the wattle page on how to submit your draft thesis.
After submission, students will present a twenty minute seminar (including time for questions) describing their achievements during the year. The final seminar is assessed and counts for 5% of your overall project mark.
One paper copy, double-side printed, of your thesis must be submitted to the School administrator by close of business on this date for all types of Honours (BIT, BCS, BSc Hons, BAC, BSEng, PhB and MCOMP). We will take care of the binding. You must also submit the PDF version of your thesis to the Honours convener via the respective Wattle page, as this is the form in which it is distributed to examiners. If you are overseas or interstate and are unable to submit a paper copy of your thesis, you only need to submit your thesis online via the respective Wattle page. The thesis counts for 85% of your overall project mark.
The thesis submission deadline is rigid. Significant penalties apply for lateness, and can affect the class of your degree. Typical penalties are 5% per business day late.
As part of the weekly Honours seminars, you are required to give constructive feedback to the midterm presentations and final seminars of your fellow Honours students. The ability to give an unbiased critical assessment of other researchers work is an important part of being a researcher. Listening to other students presentation and critically evaluating them will provide you with a broad knowledge of the whole spectrum of research being conducted at the School of Computing. It also gives you important insight into how to give a good presentation and how not to, and will help you give better presentations yourself. Constructive feedback can be submitted via wattle after each seminar and counts for 2.5% of your overall project mark per semester, 5% in total.
Half of your time as an Honours student is spent working on a project. But first you have to find a project topic. The "official" reference for projects proposed by potential supervisors is the CECS projects database.
There are projects available for all levels of research, including short projects, summer scholarship projects, Honours projects, Masters and PhD projects. All potential research students at any level are urged to browse it.
If you see a project that looks interesting, email the potential supervisor about it. Don't be afraid to discuss possible variations to the listed project: what appears on the web site is generally more of a suggestion than a rigid specification.
You don't have to be constrained by what you see on the project website, which is by default incomplete. If you have something that you would like to work on as a project, then feel free to contact potential supervisors (check the websites of our academics for their research interests) and discus and identify a project that is of interest to you and your supervisor. Remember that projects may also be supervised by people outside the College, or even outside the University: from CSIRO/Data61 or ASD for instance, provided you have a co-supervisor who is part of the School of Computing.
Below are some resources useful for current Honours students. If you have suggestions for links to other resources, or notice any errors on this page, please email the Honours Convener.
- Use the new LaTeX Honours thesis template
- Invest in a good book about LaTeX, learn to use xfig
- LaTeX documentation
- How to TeX a thesis: the purdue thesis styles (chap 3 particularly relevant) [PS, PDF]
- LaTeX crib sheet [PS, PDF]
- LaTeX: from quick and dirty to style and finess
- The not so short introduction to LaTeX2e [PS, PDF ]
- Installing Linux
- Documentation for the CS&IT undergraduate student computing system