Bachelor of Computer Science with Honours - Handbook

© University of New England 2017
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Table of Contents

Contact Information

Contact the Course Coordinator for information and advice on topics and supervision

Contact the School Academic Manager for advice on administrative issues.


The School of Science and Technology offers the degree of Bachelor of Computer Science with Honours.

Honours programs are provided by academic staff from the Discipline of Computer Science.

Students are able to access information on staff research interests from the web pages:

Aims ands Objectives

The Bachelor of Computer Science with Honours is designed to allow well-qualified graduates to extend their studies in the area of Computer Science, either to improve their career prospects or to proceed to higher degree studies in research.

Graduates are able to demonstrate to potential employers that they have the ability to produce high quality work with minimal supervision and those who achieve either First Class Honours or Second Class Honours, Division 1, are eligible to apply of admission to candidature for the PhD with a view to a career in academia or research.

Enrolling in Honours

Interested students are asked to refer to the course rules for the Bachelor of Computer Science with Honours regarding admission to candidature and course requirements.

Students are required to enrol for COSC400 – Honours in Computer Science.  This program comprises a thesis (75%) and course work (25%).

Students are required to find an Honours supervisor and an appropriate research topic.  Students should contact the coordinator for COSC400 who will provide on selecting a supervisor and a topic.  Supervisors and research projects are best organised one to two months before the Honours year is due to begin.

The supervisor must belong to the Discipline of Computer Science unless the School permits the appointment of an alternate supervisor from another Discipline.  It is possible that a student may have two supervisors from Computer Science – the supervisory arrangements are determined by the nature of the research topic selected.

Once a supervisor and a research topic have been decided on, students must submit a formal research proposal to the coordinator for COSC400.  The proposal must clearly indicate the student’s engagement in research, include the student’s research plans, and describe the research topic appropriately.

Information on the on-line application process for Bachelor Honours is available on the web.

Students, with input from their proposed supervisor, are required to complete a Thesis Proposal Form in addition to the online application form. Students are required to provide details of their proposed supervisor(s) and their proposed research area on the Thesis Proposal Form.  Applications will not be processed if the Thesis Proposal Form has not been included.

The application, together with the Thesis Proposal Form, will be forwarded to the School of Science and Technology.  The School of Science and Technology will seek advice on the application from the Discipline and will advise the Student Administration and Services (SAS) of the outcome of the application.

When an application has been processed and the student has been accepted as a candidate for the degree, SAS will send an offer of enrolment.  Students accept this at the same time as enrolling into their Honours unit – COSC400 Honours in Computer Science. NB: students completing COSC400 do not enrol for the separate coursework units – these are completed within COSC400.  The offer of enrolment is dependent on the knowledge that the supervisor(s) agree to supervise the project, have the facilities to support the proposed work, and that alternative supervisory arrangements are in place if the supervisor plans to be absent for part of the student’s candidature.

Important Dates


Full time

Part time






T1 commencement (39 weeks)

20th February 2017

17th November 2017

20th February 2017

August 2018

T2 commencement (41 weeks including 2 week Christmas break)

26th June 2017

29th March 2018

26th June 2017

December 2018

T3 commencement (41 weeks including 2 week Christmas break)

23rd October 2017

27th July 2018

23rd October, 2017

April 2019

Structure of the Honours Year

COSC400 comprises 75% research (resulting in a thesis) and 25% coursework.  Students are strongly advised to spread their coursework component of their programs across two trimesters.  This will provide sufficient time to work towards completion of the thesis.

Students are required to maintain contact with their supervisor(s) and are expected to attend all research seminars presented in the Discipline of Computer Science and are encouraged to attend seminars outside the Discipline if they are relevant to the research topic being completed.

Students are required to present a seminar defending their thesis after submission of the thesis.  This presentation is of 20 minutes duration and the student will be required to answer questions.  The date for the presentation of the seminar must be discussed with COSC400 coordinator as the examiners of the thesis must have sufficient time to read the thesis before the seminar is presented.

To summarise the requirements for the research component of COSC400:

  • submit a formal thesis proposal at the beginning of candidature
  • give an introductory presentation about the planned research
  • submit a progress report at the end of the first trimester of candidature
  • submit the thesis by the specified submission date
  • present a seminar defending the thesis after submission of the thesis

On-campus Requirements for Off-campus Students

Students must remember that, depending on the project they are completing and requirements which may be stipulated by their supervisor(s), there may be a requirement for off-campus students to attend on campus for a certain period each year.  As a guide, this would be the equivalent of an ‘intensive school equivalent’, that is, four days per trimester. The frequency and timing of any on-campus requirement will depend on the nature of the project.  Students should discuss whether or not there will be an on-campus requirement with their supervisor(s).

The Research Project/Thesis

The aim of the research project is to introduce the student to original work.  The student, in conjunction with their supervisor, should develop a realistic research project and plan, given the restraints of time, funding and availability of infrastructure.   It is important that individuals develop the habit of keeping up-to-date with the relevant papers and related published materials (reviews, textbooks etc).  In addition to the resources of the Dixson Library, the Internet is a most important resource, with many journals/reviews available in full text. The supervisor, colleagues and School Librarian can advise as to the availability of on-line journals, related materials and document delivery entitlement.

Students are expected to use a reference management program such as Latex for referencing.  Endnote is a personal reference database program.  The main functions of such programs are to:

  • maintain a personal library of references
  • download references from journal databases and Google Scholar
  • insert references into word-processed documents
  • generate a bibliography in the correct style for publication

The thesis must be produced in a suitable format and care taken in the presentation and grammar. The supervisor is expected to comment on the first draft and sufficient time (at least three weeks before the due date of thesis submission) should be given for appropriate feedback from the supervisor.  Remember that a first draft, particularly the Results and Discussion, should be in such a form that the supervisor has all the necessary information to make constructive suggestions.

The final version of the thesis is the individual’s responsibility and is to be submitted according to the requirements of the Discipline of Computer Science (preferably through the University’s e-submission system).

Students should also consult copies of previous Honours theses in the Discipline for guidance on the thesis layout.

Students are strongly advised to ensure on-time submission of their thesis.

School Policy on Late Submissions will be enforced.

Thesis Examination

The thesis will be examined by at least two members of academic staff; approved by the Honours Coordinator on the recommendation of the supervisor(s).  A supervisor will not act as an examiner.

In case of dispute, the supervisor and Honours Coordinator, generally in consultation with appropriate academic staff, will determine the appointment of the examiners.  Examiners will be required to submit a written report along with a completed “Examiners Assessment Form” (see Appendix 2).  In all matters relating to examiners, the Head of School shall have the final decision.

The following are examples of areas of importance when grading Honours theses and serve as assessment criteria – consult your supervisor for advice on any specific Discipline requirements in terms of assessment criteria for your Honours unit:

1. Subject Content

  • adequacy of candidate’s understanding of concepts
  • level of scientific rigour gauged from description of approach
  • thorough, critical review of previous research and key papers
  • clear statement of why research was undertaken, put in context
  • clear statement of hypotheses

2. Competence in research

  • level of scientific rigour gauged from description of approach
  • methods of survey and experimental design
  • analysis of results
  • interpretation and discussion of results
  • adequacy of discussion of project limitations and contribution to the field

3. Presentation

  • organisation and presentation of the work
  • clarity of writing style
  • referencing and graphics

Honours Grades

The grades for Honours are:

  • ≥85%          H1     First Class Honours
  • 75 to 84%   H2A   Second Class Honours, Division 1
  • 65 to 74%   H2B   Second Class Honours, Division 2
  • 50 to 64%   H3     Third Class Honours
  • <50%          Fail

First Class (H1) indicating an overall mark equal to or exceeding 85%. A First Class Honours degree demonstrates that the student has excellent potential for independent research and would be strongly supported in an application for a higher degree and for a scholarship application.  A first-class thesis would be free of major faults, demonstrate originality and skills in planning, analysis and execution of a logical research plan, and would be written clearly and succinctly.  It would also illustrate the scientific and/or applied relevance of the project work.

Second Class, Division 1 (H2A) indicating an overall mark of 75-84%.  This indicates a very competent student who has potential to proceed to a higher degree but would need appreciable guidance to meet the required standards.  An H2A thesis would exhibit a thorough understanding of the research issue and a professional or original approach to its resolution.  Research design and analyses would be good, presentation clear, and errors of fact and style minimal.

Second Class, Division 2 (H2B) indicating an overall mark of 65-74%.  This implies the student is capable of proceeding to a Master by research degree but would need considerable further development before commencing a PhD.  Such a thesis is competently written but contains some inadequacies in scope, content, presentation, data analysis or understanding of the topic.

Third Class (H3) indicating an overall mark of 50-64%.  A student awarded this grade would not be encouraged to seek a higher degree.  Thesis work may indicate much effort but suffer inadequacies in scope, content, presentation, data analysis or understanding of the topic.

If the overall mark is <50%, the student has failed the degree and the thesis contains serious inadequacies in some or all areas.


The assessment breakdown for COSC400 is: coursework 75%; thesis 25%.

The thesis will be evaluated by two examiners who are nominated by the supervisor and approved by the Honours Coordinator. The level of Honours awarded is based on:

  • the student’s performance in the coursework units
  • the student’s performance the research project and the quality of the thesis as assessed by the examiners


Some supervisors may require their Honours students to present a seminar.  Such a seminar is not assessed separately – it is assessed as part of the thesis. Students should discuss whether or not they are required to present a seminar with their supervisor(s).

Viva Voce (Oral Examination)

Some supervisors may require Honours students to complete a viva voce – an oral examination in defense of their thesis.  If a viva voce is required it will not be assessed separately but will be assessed as part of the thesis.  Students should discuss whether or not they are required to complete a viva voce with their supervisor.

Responsibilities of the Student

It is the student’s responsibility to confirm a research project and a willing supervisor prior to enrolment in the degree.  The student is then expected to develop the project from an idea or an outline discussed with the supervisor. The supervisor may ask the student to write a research plan and develop a timetable for the work. Regular communication between the student and supervisor about the progress of the research is essential. Although the student is responsible for the day-to-day running of their project, the experience of the supervisor is invaluable when deciding on methods and appropriate analyses of results. It is the student’s responsibility to regularly consult with their supervisor and organise suitable times for meetings.

Students are also responsible for administration of the project and the program of study. For example, the student must ensure that all work is handed in by the due deadline, and that drafts of the thesis are submitted to the supervisor allowing adequate time for comment.

Similarly, if the research project requires a student to undertake any travel for fieldwork, it is the student’s responsibility, in consultation with the supervisor, to ensure that all paperwork required is completed before such fieldwork is undertaken.

The student is also responsible, in consultation with the supervisor, for ensuring relevant ethics approval and permits are obtained where necessary before work commences.

Students should not be reticent about organising meetings to discuss their work, concerns, or future plans with the supervisor.

As previously mentioned, there may a requirement for off-campus students to attend on campus for a certain period in each trimester.  As a guide, this would be at least the equal of an intensive school, that is, four days per trimester. Experience has shown that the success of the project is positively correlated with the amount of contact between the supervisor and student. The frequency and timing of visits will depend on the nature of the project which is being completed.  Off-campus students should consult with their supervisor in relation to any on-campus requirements.

Responsibilities of the Supervisor

The supervisor will ensure that the project has sufficient scope for Honours and will provide guidance on research approaches. He/she will advise on methods and will ensure that the student is aware of correct procedures in the area.

The supervisor will ensure that the student maintains satisfactory progress on the research and will agree with the student on a timetable or research plan to assist this progress. The research plan and other important documentation should be TRIMed.  Progress reports and drafts should be read and annotated as rapidly as possible.  Importantly, the supervisor will consult with the student early in the Honours year to produce a program of assessable tasks, their deadlines and their percentage of the final assessment.

Importantly, the supervisor will discuss expectations and requirements with the student early in the Honours year and produce a research plan – a program of assessable tasks, their deadlines and their percentage of the final assessment.

In addition, supervisors need to ensure that alternative supervisory arrangements are in place should they decide to be absent for part of the student’s project.

The supervisor is responsible for nominating examiners for the thesis and advising the Honours Coordinator at least four to six weeks before the thesis is due for submission.  The supervisor is required to advise the Honours Coordinator of the amount of assistance the student has received during the research project. The supervisor cannot act as an examiner but may discuss the nomination of examiners with the student.  The student must not be advised of who is finally nominated as examiners.

Responsibilities of the Honours Coordinator

To ensure timely grading of the thesis, the Honours Coordinator (in consultation with the supervisor) will organise the appointment of the thesis examiners several weeks before the thesis submission date. The Honours Coordinator should indicate to the examiners the level of assistance provided to the student during the research project. The Honours Coordinator will also organise marking of the other assessment tasks, including seminars. Marks for the various assessment tasks should be recorded by the Honours Coordinator.

Additional Information

Coursework/Written Assignments

Students will be required to complete coursework as prescribed by their supervisor.


Students who have plagiarised material in any work handed in for assessment will be dealt with under the rules and policies of the University.  Students must ensure that they acknowledge all sources and assistance with any work completed. If in doubt, visit the plagiarism information page.

School Induction Days

Some Schools run Induction Days for the Higher Degree Research (HDR) students.

Depending on the nature of the project, supervisors may ask Honours students to attend the relevant HDR Induction Days run by the Schools. These days provide general advice about University and School procedures such as fieldwork safety procedures, University vehicles, library services etc. All on-campus students are encouraged to attend regardless of their project.

Students should consult the relevant School web pages for further information on Induction Days.


Depending on the nature of the research project being completed, there could be issues with ethics.  Students should consult their supervisor is they have any queries in relation to ethics.

Equipment, Travel, University Vehicles

Students must consult their supervisor(s) in all matters relating to the use of equipment, travel and University vehicles if required for completion of their project.

Safety and Security

All buildings have Safety Officers and have first aid kits, fire extinguishers, designated meeting points for evacuations of buildings, etc.  All buildings have good signage in relation to safety issues.  Students should become familiar with the various facilities in their building(s).

Each School/Discipline has guidelines on providing access to buildings after hours and at weekends.  Students should consult their supervisor(s) in the first instance.

Library services

For information on what the Dixson Library at UNE may be able to assist with in the course of the Honours year, please see the Library information page.

Special Extensions of Time

Requests for special extensions of time have to be made in writing, with supporting documentation (e.g. medical certificate) as per the University Special Assessment policy.


The University is committed to providing all students with a high quality learning experience.  Effective support services are available to assist throughout the course. These services include information on academic, administrative, financial, IT, personal and resource needs. To access the information relating to these resources, go to the student support page.


The three appendices are available for download as a single PDF.

  • Appendix 1:  Signed Declaration by Student
  • Appendix 2:  Thesis Assessment Form
  • Appendix 3:  Honours Seminar Assessment Form

Download Appendices