Bachelor of Arts (Degree with Honours)

Course 104-AA (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Year and Campus: 2009
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Level: Undergraduate


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Course Overview:

The BA (Honours) is an advanced and specialised course of study requiring a higher standard of performance than for the pass degree. It enhances your ability to acquire advanced skills of analysis, to develop original ideas, and to apply innovative solutions to complex problems. The BA (Hons) involves one additional year of study at fourth-year level. Students may specialise in one area of study (pure honours) or two (combined honours). Entry to the honours degree must be approved by the School/s concerned and the Faculty. Commencement of honours must occur within five years of the completion of your degree course.


The Honours program is an advanced level of study designed to allow students to specialise their knowledge across one area of study (pure Honours) or two (combined Honours). Students accepted into the program undertake fourth-year level subjects and a short research thesis and must achieve honours-level grades (minimum 65%-H3) for each component of assessment in order to qualify for the award.

The opportunity to specialise provides a strong foundation for the future direction of graduates, whether as a means of progressing to higher degree research in Arts at the Masters or PhD level, or improving the scope of employment options and professional advancement. Students with Honours from Melbourne Arts record exceptionally high rates of satisfaction with the professional and academic directions they pursue beyond graduation.

Course Structure & Available Subjects:

In order to meet the requirements for the BA (Honours) degree, you must complete 100 points of study at fourth-year level. Pure honours usually consists of 62.5 points of coursework and a thesis of 37.5 points. Combined honours usually consists of the thesis and two coursework subjects in one area of study (37.5 + 25 = 62.5 points) and three coursework subjects in the combined area of study (37.5 points).

You are required to achieve an honours grade (ie. H1, H2A, H2B, H3) for each component of assessment in fourth year, and an overall grade of at least H3. Your overall grade will be based on the weighted average of your marks for each component of your fourth-year studies: this is known as your final examination (FE) result.

If any of these requirements are not fulfilled, you will only be eligible for the BA pass degree. A pass (P) or fail (N) grade in any component of assessment will disqualify you from taking out the BA (Honours) degree.Fourth-year studies are usually taken full-time. In exceptional circumstances (such as work commitments, ill-health etc.), and with both School and Faculty approval, you may be permitted to take your fourth-year studies part time over a maximum of two years.

You will not be permitted to transfer to part-time studies after commencing fourth year, nor will you be permitted to withdraw from fourth-year subjects after the first two weeks of each semester without School and Faculty approval.

In all cases, your thesis must be completed over two consecutive semesters within a 12-month period of enrolment. Withdrawal from the thesis will only be permitted in very exceptional circumstances.Once you have enrolled and/or commenced study at fourth-year level, leave of absence will only be approved in exceptional circumstances and with the support of the relevant School/s. The maximum leave that will be granted is two semesters (12 months). If you are granted 12 months leave you must complete your studies within a maximum of three years of the original commencement date of your fourth-year studies.

Students who wish to resume a discontinued University of Melbourne honours degree must follow the application process outlined above. See Applying for Honours.

In all cases, the BA (Honours) degree must be recommenced within five years of the completion of the BA (Pass) degree.

University of Melbourne BA (Pass) degree graduates who have been accepted into the BA (Honours) may be granted, with School approval, a maximum of 12 months leave of absence between the completion of the BA (Pass) degree and the commencement of Honours.

BA graduates from other institutions who have been accepted into the BA (Honours) may be granted a maximum of 12 months deferral of the commencement of Honours.

Over-enrolment in the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) is not permitted. Students wishing to complete more than 100 points of study at fourth-year level must apply to enrol in any additional subjects through CAP.

Extensions of time for outstanding work during fourth-year studies (eg. as a result of illness) may be granted to 31 December (30 June for semester one subjects and mid-year-entry year long subjects). Extensions must be approved by the relevant head/s of School or honours coordinator/s.

Any further extensions will require the prior written approval of the Associate Dean (Academic Programs) as well as the written support of the Head of School. Extensions past 31 December or 30 June will attract additional subject/course fees.Under certain circumstances you may be given credit for studies undertaken at an overseas or interstate university up to a maximum of 37.5 points for pure honours and up to 25 points in each area for combined honours to an overall maximum of 37.5 points.

In the case of studies completed at another local university, students may be permitted to undertake up to 37.5 points of coursework for pure honours. They may undertake up to 25 points in each area for combined honours to an overall maximum of 37.5 points.

Grades for work completed at other tertiary institutions will be translated by the relevant School/s and the Faculty for the calculation of your final examination (FE) result.

If you wish to study abroad, interstate or at another local university, you must seek the prior approval of both the relevant School/s and the Honours Course Adviser in the Faculty of Arts. Approval will depend on the appropriate level, weighting and standard of subjects, and, for the thesis, the provision of suitable co-supervision arrangements. Interested students should contact the Honours Course Adviser through the Faculty of Arts.



BA (Hons) specialisation are available in the following areas of study:-

Please note that some specialisations are not available in pure honours and must be taken in combination with another area - consult each area for more details.

Ancient, Medieval & Early Modern Studies




Arabic Studies


Architectural History


Art History


Asian Studies


Australian Studies




Cinema Studies


Classical Studies & Archaeology




Creative Writing




Cultural Studies


Development Studies






English Language Studies


Environmental Studies




Gender Studies








History & Philosophy of Science


International Studies


Islamic Studies






Jewish Studies


Linguistics & Applied Linguistics


Mathematics & Statistics


Modern Greek


Music History




Political Science




Social Theory


Socio-legal Studies







Entry Requirements:

In order to be eligible for admission to fourth year honours you must have:

  • satisfied the requirements of a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree within the last five years and;

  • completed a major in the particular area/s of study, including any prerequisite subjects specified by the program/s concerned and;

  • attained the appropriate standard across the major/s.

An appropriate standard is an average grade of H2A or H2B over the second/third-year subjects of the major/s. Refer to the individual area of study entry for information on the minimum standard required (see above).

In some circumstances, prospective honours students may, with School support and Faculty approval, be permitted to enrol in a maximum of one 12.5-point bachelor-degree subject in order to fulfil outstanding subject points requirement of the BA (Pass) degree. If approved, the final subject of the BA (Pass) degree will be taken concurrently in the first semester of enrolment in the BA (Honours). This option is not available for BA combined degree students or for the purposes of completing a major sequence in the proposed honours area of study.

Students who do not meet the entry requirements for the BA (Honours) degree may be eligible to apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts. This course also allows students to undertake a research project in a specialist field of study. Admission to the Postgraduate Diploma requires the completion of an undergraduate degree with a major in an approved area of study with a grade average of at least H2A (75%) or H2B (70%) in the final year of the course. The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts is similar in structure to the BA (Honours) and may provide an alternative pathway to higher degree research.

Admission process

Core Participation Requirements: The Bachelor of Arts (Honours) requires a standard level of ability across all disciplines. It will be assumed students are able to access and attend classes on a regular basis, are capable of learning in a University environment and will be able to take responsibility for their own learning. Any ability beyond this threshold will be robustly supported through the curriculum. Any intensive use of IT or technologies will be adequately supported. Certain subjects have more specific requirements and demands, such as fieldwork or travelling, which are clearly outlined in the Handbook's subject description.

However, the University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. The Faculty Disability Contact Officer works with students, the University Disability Liaison Unit and teaching staff to assist students with their special requirements, with a particular focus on accommodations for in-class and examination assessment tasks. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at

Further Study:

Arts offers many opportunities for further study. An honours year can lead on to a masters degree or PhD, and adds vocational and/or research skills to your undergraduate arts degree and increase your employment options. Arts graduates also use postgraduate study to explore in greater depth and detail subjects they found interesting during their undergraduate study or to study a completely new field of knowledge.

Graduate study of a vocational nature might include diplomas or masters in Applied Linguistics, Management, Art Conservation and Curatorial Studies, Arts Management, Criminology, Economics, Linguistics, Information Management, Landscape Architecture, and Science Communication. The list of postgraduate courses you might wish to consider after finishing your undergraduate arts degree is varied and growing.

The Bachelor of Arts is recognised by universities and institutions around the world. Many University of Melbourne graduates travel overseas to complete further study.

Graduate Attributes:

Students who graduate with Honours in the Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne receive a passport to a world of opportunities. The degree provides students with the scope to refine their analytical skills and research techniques while significantly expanding the range of options available after graduation.

Generic Skills:

Arts students are encouraged to pursue their academic interests and professional aspirations by taking a variety of subjects in a range of different areas of study. All arts subjects provide students with transferable generic skills that prepare them for further study and the workplace.

As a result of attendance at scheduled classes, participation in planned activities and discussion groups, and timely completion of essays and assignments, arts graduates should acquire transferable generic skills in the following areas:

  • research

    through competent use of the library, electronic databases, and other information sources, and the definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research;

  • critical thinking and analysis

    through recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion, and by determining the strength of an argument;

  • thinking in theoretical terms

    through lectures, tutorial discussion, essay writing and engagement in the methodologies of the humanities and social sciences;

  • thinking creatively

    through essay writing, creative writing, tutorial discussions and presentations, conceptualising theoretical problems, forming judgements and arguments from conflicting evidence and by critical analysis;

  • understanding of social, ethical and cultural context

    through the contextualisation of judgements, developing a critical self-awareness, being open to new ideas and possibilities and by constructing an argument;

  • communicating knowledge intelligibly and economically

    through essay writing and tutorial and seminar discussion;

  • written communication

    through essay preparation and assignment writing;

  • public speaking

    through tutorial and seminar discussion and class presentations;

  • attention to detail

    through essay preparation and writing, and examination revision;

  • time management and planning

    through managing and organising workloads for recommended reading, essay and assignment completion and examination revision;

  • teamwork

    through joint projects and group discussions.

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