The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020

Course handbook


The Earth Science Honours year is designed to develop students who possess the intellectual capacity for research and related career pathways. It significantly enhances a student's knowledge of the Earth Sciences. It also develops a wide range of skills for students, such as critical reasoning and argument, scientific report and critique writing, verbal communication, and understanding and identifying appropriate data collection techniques. Each student will be assigned to one or more staff who will supervise the major body of work during the honours year (the research thesis). Students will also be assigned to one of the research groupings within Earth Sciences (Environmental and Climate Change; Earth and Ocean Science; Tectonics and Earth Resources) depending upon the sub-discipline area of their major project. They will become an integral member of that group by participating in its informal research activities and meetings.

GEOS4410 provides an introduction to Honours research in the Earth Sciences by focusing the students on the conception, design and presentation of a viable research proposal, which ultimately forms the foundation of their Honours thesis. Emphasis is placed on both the intellectual aspects (i.e. what constitutes a research problem; why does the problem exist; why is it important; how might one address the problem through the application of earth science research methods?) and the practical aspects of a research proposal (i.e. what are the time and financial costs; is the research problem at a scale appropriate for an Honours thesis; what sort of data do I need to collect?). A series of workshops will be run to highlight these issues, provide a forum for students to work through their research proposals, and guidelines to the delivery of a successful research proposal seminar. This will culminate in a seminar presentation of their thesis proposal and, following feedback from this, a 2000-word formal research proposal for submission to their supervisor.

Availability2020 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2020
  • Semester 2 - 2020

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. A fundamental understanding and appreciation of how knowledge is created in the Earth Sciences, including the context and role of Honours research.

2. A sense of realism in what can be achieved within an Honours year, given time, cost and other practical constraints.

3. An appreciation of what they are capable of intellectually with their Honours topic.

4. An understanding of the type and quantity of data they need to achieve their thesis aims.

5. An advanced understanding of how to compile a research proposal seminar.

6. Presented their research proposal seminar for critical review by the Discipline of Earth Sciences.

7. Fully developed a written Honours research proposal for review by their supervisor.


  1. Within the first four weeks of semester one, students will attend a School Workshop, which is a forum that introduces them to the 'Honours experience'. Apart from highlighting what Honours is all about and project management, this workshop provides background to the various legislative requirements that must be met before a research project may be initiated (Occupational Health and Safety, Animal Ethics and Human Ethics).
  2. Two Earth Science workshops will be conducted that provide students with a theoretical background of conducting research in the Earth Sciences, and how research problems are conceived. Students have the opportunity to present a brief oral outline of their proposal and receive comment from staff and their peers.
  3. A third Earth Science workshop will focus on how to present a research proposal seminar, focusing not only on effective communication skills, but also on which messages are the most important for the audience.
  4. Students present their proposal seminar and receive written feedback from staff.
  5. Students present their written thesis proposal to their supervisor, taking into account the feedback they have received from their seminar.
  6. Students are obliged to attend the Discipline's seminar series.

Assumed knowledge

A major in Earth Sciences or Environmental Science and Management with a credit average at 3000 level.

Assessment items

Online Learning Activity: Induction Workshop Risk assessment Academic Integrity Module

Presentation: Written Research Plan Presentations Individual ¿ Oral thesis proposal seminar

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Workshop: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course, students must complete a compulsory safety and/or fieldwork induction.

Contact hours


Self-Directed Learning

Self-Directed 18 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term