Guidelines for writing the Honours dissertation

This information will help you approach writing your LLCL Honours thesis.

 

Supervision 

The supervisor is required to meet regularly with the Honours candidate, or to ensure that the candidate is adequately supervised (by email, telephone or an in-country supervisor) when he or she is studying overseas.

 

Progress

The Students should be aware of the Honours Thesis Progress Report which is to be completed midway through their candidature. Satisfactory progress in the thesis project is required in order to complete Part A of the thesis. A student cannot proceed to Part B of their candidature without satisfactory progress being achieved in Part A. Area honours coordinators can provide more detail about the assessment of ‘Satisfactory Progress’ for students. Honours interim progress reports should be submitted after 5 months in the case of a 24-point dissertation (F/T) taken over 12 months. Any problems regarding the process of supervision should be addressed. The report is to be discussed with and signed by the student.

 

Honours Dissertation 

A 24-point Honours thesis will be 15,000-18,000 words in length (excluding prefaces and appendices, but including footnotes or endnotes).

 The thesis may be written in English or in the target language. If the thesis is written in the target language, the abstract should be written in English.

Students writing the thesis in the target language should also discuss with their supervisor whether to reference in the target language or in English.

 

A dissertation should contain the following:

  • title page
  • student declaration
  • abstract (short summary of the dissertation preceding the main text)
  • possibly a preface which may provide background information helpful to a reading of the dissertation
  • acknowledgements
  • table of contents
  • list of tables and figures as relevant
  • proper and consistent citation (either the in-text system or the footnote system of referencing may be used. As these conventions differ slightly from discipline to discipline, it is advisable to discuss the matter with the supervisor.)
  • bibliography or list of references
  • one or more appendices as necessary

 

Normally, the dissertation will address the following points:

 

Documentation

Listing primary materials and acknowledgement of existing research through careful citations and appropriately extensive listing of references or bibliography at the end of the dissertation.

  

Problem Definition and Methodology

Statement of the research problem, the aims of the dissertation and the significance of the research. Discussion of theoretical positions that throw light on the research problem. Explanation of the methodology used. Explanation of choice of samples or materials.

 

Analysis and Argumentation 

Analysis of the samples or materials assembled to address the research problem. Implications of the analysis and relation to research problem. Logic of argument. New directions suggested for future research on the issues. Questions of adjustment of methodology.

 

The dissertation must meet the standards of academic writing:

 Overall Structure of the Dissertation and the Quality of Prose

Articulation and progression of major units or chapters. Maintenance of overall theme or point that gives research coherence and significance. Clarity, precision and economy of style. Accuracy and appropriateness of language used.

 Style

Overall presentation of thesis. Presentation of title page. Pagination, layout, margins, typographical perfections, appropriate citation style, use of headings, etc.

 

Please note: If a student fails the thesis component, they will be deemed to have failed the entire Honours program and will be ineligible to graduate from the Honours degree.

 

Deadline

The Honours Dissertation shall be due by 4.30pm on the Friday of week 12 in the relevant semester. It should be delivered during office hours, in the relevant number of copies, to the School Administrative Office.

 

Submission of an Honours Dissertation

Three copies of the thesis should be submitted on the due date to the School’s administrative officer in charge of Honours (4 copies are required from students doing combined Honours). One copy of the thesis should be submitted in a 2-ring black folder, and 2 copies are to be bound. Students are also encouraged to submit a copy of their dissertation on CD ROM in PDF format.

Students seeking for further extension to the submission date of the Honours thesis, must apply for special consideration BEFORE the submission date, following the Faculty of Arts special consideration procedures: http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/policy-bank/procedures/special-consideration.php

A complete version is to be submitted to the Honours supervisor well before the due date to allow for comments and revisions. We recommend allowing at least two weeks for this process.

  

Examination of the Honours Dissertation 

  • Each dissertation shall be examined by two examiners. 
  • The appointment of examiners shall be the responsibility of the Honours Committee, following nomination on the appropriate form by the Program Honours Coordinator of the relevant discipline in consultation with the supervisor. Prior to submission of the form, either the supervisor or the Program Honours Coordinator shall informally contact the examiners and ascertain their willingness to act in this capacity 
  • In most cases, both examiners will be appointed from within the School. Depending on the thesis topic, it is, where necessary, possible to appoint external examiners from other Monash Schools and Faculties or from other universities. In the case of Combined Honours, an examiner from each discipline will be appointed. 
  • Following the appointment of examiners, the Executive Officer of the Honours Committee shall contact the examiners and provide such information as the Honours Committee shall from time to time prescribe. 
  • Where an examiner subsequently, for any reason, cannot complete the examination process, the Convenor of the Honours Committee following consultation with the Honours Coordinator of the relevant disciplinary area shall invite another examiner to act. 
  • Examiners’ reports and grades should be returned to the administrative officer in charge of Honours, who will collate them. 
  • In the case of a discrepancy between the grades awarded by the two examiners, the relevant Arts Faculty policies will be followed. 
  • All final marks must be approved by the Program, and then the School Honours Committee.

 

Marking System

The examiners will be asked to consider a range of issues relevant to the particular thesis being examined, which may include documentation, issue/problem, definitions and methodology, analysis and argumentation, overall structure and the quality of the prose and style.

 

Assessment of theses written in English will normally include a consideration of the following criteria:

  • Referencing and Citation
  • Problem Definitions and Methodology
  • Analysis and Argumentation
  • Overall Structure and the Quality of the Prose
  • Style

Assessment of theses written in the target language will normally include a consideration of the same criteria, with a greater weight given to the overall structure and quality of the prose.

  

Grading System

80-100 H1 (High Distinction)
70-79 H2A (Distinction)
60-69 H2B (Credit)
50-59 H3 (Pass)

 

Descriptors

Examiners will be guided by the following descriptors:

 

H1 (80-100)

The award of an H1 indicates that the student is capable of progressing directly to a PhD.

 

95 plus             Truly exceptional

Truly exceptional achievement equivalent to the best scholarship in the academic field. Material publishable with revisions. Exhibits rare interpretive and analytic insight.

 
90-94               Exceptional

Outstanding. Makes a significant contribution to knowledge. Exceptional in grasp of current methodology. Exhibits great interpretive subtlety. Extremely well written.

 

85-89               Outstanding

Outstanding work of a quality well above average for the Honours H1 grade. Illustrates considerable independence in research. Makes a substantial contribution to knowledge. Strong grasp of critical and theoretical approaches to topic and of research methodology. Exhibits interpretive subtlety. Very well written.

 

80-84              Accomplished

Accomplished work which demonstrates capacity for originality and sound research potential. Demonstrated grasp of current critical and theoretical approaches to the topic and of sustained research methodology. Exhibits some interpretive subtlety and genuine research capacity reflected in the level of analytic insight. Well written.

 

H2A Very Good (70-79)

The thesis makes a contribution to the discipline. It is well written and argued on the whole and shows ability to draw perceptive conclusions and make a good evaluation of the subject. Some weaknesses or limitations are present to exclude the thesis from the excellent category. Examples of such weaknesses include flaws in argumentation, limited insights or intellectual evaluations, gaps in supporting evidence and inept of defective presentation. An H2A indicates that the student is capable of progressing to Postgraduate studies.                     

 

H2B Good (60-69)

The thesis presents adequate treatment of the topic. The work, however, reveals limitations in scope/ argumentation which exclude it from higher honours categories. In addition, or alternatively it may have flaws in such areas as documentation, quality of research or written presentation of such an order that the total result although adequate is not distinguished.

 

H3 Fair (50-59)           

The thesis shows flaws in treatment of topic, and lacks the qualities outlined in the above categories. Argumentation is limited and overall documentation, methodology, or quality of research is only fair, but nonetheless the thesis shows some attempt to carry out an initial research exercise.

  

N – Fail (below 50%)

The thesis is not sufficiently well-researched or written to meet the requirements of an Honours thesis. The quality of research may be inadequate, the basic argumentation unsound, and presentation unscholarly and too hard to follow.

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