University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 Archive

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Honours in the Bachelor of Laws

Honours in the Bachelor of Laws is an embedded research program intended to provide students with research training opportunities, to reward and recognise outstanding academic achievement.

Students will not be required to complete an additional Honours year, but will enrol in a 12 credit point research unit in lieu of two electives in their penultimate or final semester, and submit a dissertation.


Students will apply to undertake Honours in their penultimate year.

Admission to Honours will require the completion of at least 16 compulsory units (including Foundations of Law, Legal Research I and II), and a minimum WAM of 75 in all compulsory law units of study completed at the time of application, with the exception of Foundations of Law. Results in elective units or any law units undertaken at another institution will not be included in the WAM. All law units will be weighted equally.

Student eligibility and admission to Honours is a decision of the Associate Dean in consultation with the Law Honours Coordinator and the Head of School. The minimum WAM required for entry is 75, but a WAM higher than 75 may be required for entry in any given year. The exact WAM cut-off will be determined on an annual basis by the Associate Dean in consultation with the School Honours Committee and the Head of School. Typically, around the top 20 percent of the student cohort will be eligible for admission to the Honours program.
Students should note that achieving the requisite WAM will not guarantee a place in the Honours program.

Places in the Honours program are limited by the availability of thesis supervisors. It is the responsibility of the student to develop an acceptable proposal (see under 'Application for Honours' below).

There is an option for students with a WAM of between 74.0 and 74.9 to apply for special entry on the basis that they can demonstrate aptitude for extended research, with entry at the discretion of the Associate Dean in consultation with the Honours Committee and the Head of School.

Workload and Assessment

Honours students will be required to complete a dissertation of 12,000 words.

Students will enrol in LAWS3900. This 12 credit point Honours unit will be included in the 36 credit points of required Part 1 electives.

Students will complete this dissertation over the course of one semester of their final year. Subject to the availability of supervision, students will be able to elect the semester in which they undertake the Honours unit.

Students will also be required to attend a non-assessed Research Worksho and attend a specified number of meetings with their supervisor.

Application for Honours

Students are required to prepare a thesis proposal including a statement of the methodology to be used as well as a preliminary literature review.

It will be the student’s responsibility to organise a supervisor. A list of available supervisors and areas of interest will be provided to students, but students will need to develop a suitable topic and contact an appropriate academic staff member to arrange for supervision. Honours supervisors can only be academic staff members of Sydney Law School and selected adjunct academics.

Admission to the Honours program occurs on an annual basis, and is based on all results available at the end of Semester 2. There is no mid-year entry for Honours. All Honours applications are evaluated and approved by the Associate Dean in consultation with the Law Honours Coordinator and Head of School.

Marking and moderation of the Dissertation

Each Honours dissertation is examined by two examiners: an independent primary examiner and a second examiner; the supervisor.

The recommended marks provided by the examiners are then moderated by the Honours Committee to ensure fairness and consistency of marking standards. The Honours Committee may adjust a recommended mark, and no mark is final until the process of moderation is completed.

Award of Honours

The final mark for the dissertation then forms part of the calculations for the award of Honours. The grade of Honours will be determined by a student’s Honours WAM (HWAM).The HWAM will be calculated from a minimum of 90 credit points and a maximum of 136 credit points of law units of study, including all compulsory and elective units of study undertaken at Sydney Law School, with the exception of Foundations of Law. The Honours units will carry a weighting of two while all other units carry a weighting of one. The HWAM is calculated to one decimal place.

The Honours degree is awarded in either First Class or Second Class (Division 1), as specified below:



Honours Class I

≥ 80 

Honours Class II (Division 1)

75 to 79

Honours not awarded


Students in the Honours program who do not meet the requirements of the award of Honours but in all other respects have satisfied the requirements for the degree will be awarded the pass degree.

University Medal

Students who qualify for the award of first class Honours and whose work is of outstanding merit in the opinion of the School may be considered for the award of a University medal.

The medal will normally be awarded to the student who has the highest WAM of the graduating cohort across both semesters in the academic year. It is generally expected that the medallist will have a WAM of 85 or above. The medal may be shared in instances where the marks of the second-placed candidate are regarded as being equivalent in merit.

The Honours Committee will make a recommendation on the award in each academic year and the Law School Board will decide on the award of the University Medal. The Law School Board reserves the right not to award the medal should no candidate meet the relevant criteria.