School of Humanities

Honours in Philosophy

Further information


Faculty Honours Policy

Rights and responsibilities

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Information sheet

Download further information on studying Philosophy honours:

Students wishing to enquire about Honours in philosophy should approach the Philosophy Honours Coordinator preferably before the start of the third academic year to ensure that their bachelor degree course prepares them for admission to honours.

  1. Preliminaries
  2. Eligibility
  3. Honours course
  4. Philosophy honours other than by full-time study in philosophy
  5. Assessment procedures
  6. Woomara Leadership Scholarship
  7. Conversion table: Honours grades and their pass and percentage equivalents

1 Preliminaries

1.1 The person responsible in charge of the Honours program is the Honours Coordinator. Students wishing to do Philosophy Honours should, prior to their enrolment in honours, consult the Honours Coordinator. Towards the end of second semester each year, a philosophy honours information session is held, where details about the honours program are disclosed. A sheet with the latest information (including the likely unit offerings for the following year) is distributed and downloadable from the Philosophy website.

1.2 Philosophy Honours can be done in one full-time year after the completion of a bachelor degree. There is a range of options for completing Honours other than by full-time study in Philosophy: (a) part-time Honours; (b) joint Honours (Philosophy and another discipline, with approximately 50% of each); (c) cognate studies: minor studies in another Discipline are included in the Philosophy Honours course (or minor studies in Philosophy with Honours in another discipline); seminars in philosophy can be replaced by units, worth up to 12 points, in another discipline.

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2 Eligibility

To be eligible for entry to the Honours in Philosophy students must have completed the equivalent of a UWA weighted average mark of at least 70% in the Level 3 units of the Philosophy major (or equivalent). Please see the Future Student website for information on how to apply.

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3 Honours course

3.1 Overall structure

(a) Four 6-point seminars, two per semester (if full-time), to be chosen from the list available units 24 points. Each seminar meets weekly for 2 hrs.

(b) Dissertation component (24 points) consisting of research proposal, oral presentation, and written thesis.

(*A supervised research project may be substituted for one seminar. In exceptional circumstances, one 12 point seminar may be substituted for two 6 point seminars.)

3.1.1 More on Seminar Component:
(a) Each of the four 6-point seminars normally requires a 4000 word essay (submitted on last day of semester or a week before), worth 70% and an unseen 1 hour examination worth 30%. (Logic seminars may have different requirements). If a supervised research project is undertaken in lieu of a seminar, it will be assessed in a similar way to the seminar.

(b) Attendance for all seminars and at least one presentation for each seminar is mandatory for each unit. If a student attends fewer than eight out of ten seminars for any unit, OR if a student fails to give a scheduled presentation, their overall mark for the unit will be reduced by 10%.

(c) Late essays are penalised at 5 marks per day for the first 7 days (including weekends and public holidays) after which the assigned work is not accepted. For more information please see the University policy on Assessment.

(d) The examination will consist of one answer from a choice of questions: there is to be no substantial overlap in content among answers, presentations, essay and the dissertation. In some cases (e.g. Logic seminars) a combination of assignments may be substituted for the essay. (Such substitutions are at the discretion of the Department, not of the student.)

3.1.2 More on the Dissertation Component:
(a) A 900 – 1100 word research proposal of dissertation topic, worth 5% of dissertation component, is due to your supervisor one month after commencement of honours. This will include a brief statement of the methodology used for undertaking the dissertation. It will include (not part of word count) a preliminary bibliography of reading material that is likely to be drawn upon. This component will be marked according to how well it meets requirements.

(b) An oral presentation, worth 5% of dissertation component, is to be given in the second semester of honours program. Some portion of the thesis is presented for 45 minutes and there is a 45 minute discussion. Regular attendance of these presentation seminars is compulsory (included in the 5%) as learning to give feedback to one’s peers is an important part of philosophical development. While the presentation is not directly marked on content, the mark you receive will be dependent upon putting in a serious effort.

(c) A research dissertation, between 12,000 – 15,000 words (including footnotes but not bibliography), worth 90% of dissertation component, is to be submitted by 5pm on last day of teaching semester immediately preceding the candidate’s last examination. While a formal literature review is not expected, part of the dissertation is marked according to how well you have engaged with the relevant literature.

3.2 Supervision

The topic for the dissertation, and an appropriate supervisor for the topic, should be agreed upon by the student and the Honours Coordinator before the end of Week 1 in Semester 1 (keeping in mind that the proposal is due a month after start of semester). Thereafter student and supervisor should generally meet at least every two weeks to discuss the topic and the student's work, although there is flexibility here. The supervisor will give advice on relevant literature and the development of the topic, and will comment on the work submitted.

3.3 Honours units available

The available units will vary from year to year. For an overview of available units and uni descriptions, see the UWA Handbook.

3.4 Structure and weighting

(a) The final honours classification depends solely on the work done in the honours year.

(b) The structure and weighting of the assessment is shown below:


Component Approximate Weighting Points Value
Dissertation (PHIL4140 & 4141) 4 24
1st Semester Seminar PHIL410X 1 6
1st Semester Seminar PHIL410X 1 6
2nd Semester Seminar PHIL410X 1 6
2nd Semester Seminar PHIL410X 1 6


(g) The Conceptual Criteria for the Assessment of Dissertations and other honours work are shown below:

NOTE: Within each category a piece of work may exhibit the distinctive qualities of the category to a greater or lesser degree.

   1. skill in handling complex issues and concepts in the development of an individual argument, and
   2. demonstration of superior qualities of intellectual sophistication and philosophical insight, and
   3. excellent writing skills.

   1. demonstration of skills of analysis as well as synthesis, and
   2. ability to marshal, and critically to examine, evidence to sustain a consistent argument, and
   3. appreciation of philosophical issues, and ability to place the subject in the context of appropriate philosophical debate.

   1. coherent narrative or descriptive account, adequately documented, and
   2. competent synthesis of source materials, including primary source material where relevant, and
   3. some serious attempt at analysis.

   1. Shows ability to present work generally above the minimum Pass standard, but with substantial limitations in research quality, argumentation, written presentation or documentation which clearly exclude it from the higher honours categories.

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4 Philosophy honours other than by full-time study in philosophy

4.1 Part-time honours

A part-time honours program can be devised in consultation with the Honours Coordinator, but must be no more than 2 years. The dissertation must be written over 2 consecutive semesters, whether or not the student is part-time.

4.2 Joint honours

If students have a double major, it is possible to do joint honours if the faculty and discipline criteria are met. It involves doing approximately half the honours work in philosophy and half in another discipline.

4.3 Cognate studies

In the honours degree with cognate studies, seminars in philosophy are replaced by work of equivalent weight, up to a maximum of 18 points, in another discipline.

For more information about any of the above options see the Faculty honours policy.

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5 Assessment procedures

5.1 The length of the dissertation should be approximately 12,000 words and in no case shall exceed 15,000. Students will be required to submit two copies of their dissertations by 5.00 p.m. on the last day of the semester immediately preceding their last examination.

5.2 For the dissertation there will be two examiners, the Head of Department's nominee from those with competence in the field, and another member of staff (other than the supervisor). The supervisor will not examine the dissertation. Before examiners decide on marks, the supervisor may provide the examiners with a brief report concerning the student's levels of independence and initiative. Examiners must provide a written report to the supervisor nd to the Honours Co-ordinator who, after official grades are released, will forward the report to the student. If their final marks are no more than eight percentage points apart, the two marks will be averaged. If there is a more than eight percentage difference, a third marker will be brought in, and the final mark will be an average of all three.

5.3 There will be two examiners for each remaining component of the honours assessment. The examiners are to mark initially completely independently of each other; they should then discuss any disagreements in marks between them, and the reasons therefor; they are free, but not required, to revise their initial marks in the light of this discussion. If their final marks are no more than eight percentage points apart, the average will be taken. If there is a more than eight percentage difference, a third marker will be brought in, and the final mark will be an average of all three.

(a) At a departmental meeting, faculty will confer upon the assessment, bearing in mind the scale: Fail / Third Class Honours (III) / Second Class Honours lower division (IIB) / Second Class Honours upper division (IIA) / First Class Honours (H1).
(b) Unless a student is enrolled in joint honours, the student’s single worst essay or examination paper will be ignored in his or her assessment. This concession is intended only to prevent a student being unduly penalised by an uncharacteristic performance. If it is clear that a student has taken advantage of it by not putting any work into one of his or her essays or examinations, the examiners may revoke this concession. If a student is enrolled in joint honours, then the student's worst essay or examination may be ignored but only in discussion with the Chair of the other department in which the student is jointly enrolled.

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6 Woomara Leadership Scholarship

This merit-based scholarship of $5000 will be awarded to a promising student commencing an honours degree in philosophy.

For further information on application dates and eligibility, please refer to the Scholarships website.

7 Conversion table: Honours grades and their pass and percentage equivalents

Honours Grade Pass Grade Equivalent Percentage Range
First (H1) HD 80-100
IIA (H2A) D 70-79
IIB (H2B) CR 60-69
Third (H3) P 50-59
Fail N 0-49

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