PSYCHOL 4300B - Honours Thesis in Psychology Part 2

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2019

This component encompasses the write-up of the thesis, including the preparation of a full literature review, data analysis, reporting of results and thesis submission. A small number of information seminars will be held to assist students with their thesis writing and to plan out future course-work applications.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHOL 4300B
    Course Honours Thesis in Psychology Part 2
    Coordinating Unit Psychology
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 12
    Contact 4 x 2 hour seminars
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Prerequisites PSYCHOL 4301
    Assumed Knowledge PSYCHOL 3020 or equivalent
    Restrictions Available to Honours BPsychSc (Hons) students only
    Assessment Research proposal; ethics application; oral presentation
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Matthew Dry

    Honours Program Director: Dr Carolyn Semmler:
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    The acquisition of research
    design skills, together with the preparation of a research project and its presentation is seen by the School as a central aspect of research training, as is exposure to a range of research topics and experimental designs.  Thus provision is made during this seminar sequence for students:

    ·       discussion of assessment procedures for the thesis

    ·       issues and procedures pertaining to writing of psychological research articles

    ·       workshops on each section of the thesis including: Abstract, Introduction, Results and Discussion

    Students will be invited to bring working drafts of the thesis to class for interactive activities aimed at improving writing and critical thinking skills.
    These activities will occur in the first 6 weeks of semester. The Head of School and Higher Degree by Research coordinators will present information on post-graduate pathways of study and applications processes for Masters and PhD programs available in the School of Psychology.

    Students will attend 6 Research seminars designed to introduce the research process and develop the skills necessary for successful completion of the research project component:

    The seminars are held on Monday afternoons and we treat attendance at the seminars as an important component of the assessment and development of students. Attendance at 75% of the seminars for the full seminar time is a required and the thesis will not be marked if this requirement is not met.

    An attendance sheet will be circulated during each seminar to keep a record and non-attendance is only accepted under exceptional circumstances (illness, deaths in the family, serious accidents). Seminar attendance also requires professional behaviour and apologies should be submitted prior to the seminar if students cannot attend.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    1. Demonstrated original and useful contribution to psychological knowledge;

    2. Mastery of the content psychology areas across the discipline

    3. Ability to develop clear arguments that justify the research aims and cogently discuss the research findings

    4. Deep understanding of sound research methodology in psychology

    5. The ability to apply appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative data analysis; and

    6. A critical awareness of the implications of the findings as well as the strengths and limitations of the research

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    All materials and support are detailed in the Honours Psychology handbook. Resources for the thesis component are detailed on page 9 and 10 of the Handbook. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Honours Program Director: Dr Carolyn Semmler (
    Online Learning
    All seminar materials and details can be accessed via the MyUni(Canvas) page.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The thesis component represents a large amount of independent study in collaboration with the thesis supervisor(s). It is expected that students will meet frequently with supervisors and attend 6 seminars on campus (2 hours in duration) throughout the semester.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Details will be made available on MyUni.
    Learning Activities Summary
    All students completing a research project must attend the honours Research Seminars held on Wednesday afternoons during semester 2.  We treat this requirement with utter seriousness.  Participation in the seminar series is part of your training and will ensure a smooth completion of the thesis component. 

    Seminar 1: Thesis Presentations

    Seminar 2: Thesis Presentations

    Seminar 3: Thesis Presentations

    Seminar 4: Thesis Presentations

    Seminar 5: Thesis Presentations

    Seminar 6: Thesis Submission & Applying for Postgraduate programs
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Research Thesis Requirement

    The School offers opportunity for both quantitative and qualitative research without bias and across a wide range of topics.  Our concern is that the methodology and report should be appropriate for the nature of the research.  Given that quantitative and qualitative research have different conventions, the following should be read with care:

    The Australian Psychological Society Course Accreditation Guidelines for Fourth Year courses (June 2010) stipulates a research project with the following requirements:

    1.1.11     The research project must include an individual research question, individual intensive empirical literature review, individual data analysis, individual reporting of results and discussion, but may involve shared data collection. The research project should be structured so that students participate in all of the steps involved in research including the formulation of research questions, the design of the study including selection of appropriate methodology, the collection and analysis of data to test the research question, the interpretation of the findings and the writing up of the report.

     The research question being pursued should be psychological in nature.

    4.1.12    The research question being pursued must address issues specifically relevant to the field of psychology.

    4.1.13    The research project may be supervised either solely or jointly, but in all cases at least one supervisor must be a member of the academic staff from the Psychology AOU.

    4.1.14    The research project should be written up, adhering to APA format, and presented as a report for assessment. The report should include a substantial literature review and may take the final form of a traditional thesis, or a literature review accompanied by a report of the research presented in the format of a peer-reviewed scientific journal article.

    4.1.15    The total length of the text of the written research report should be 9000 words. Data collected for the research project must be available for inspection by APAC on request.

    Assessment Related Requirements
    Theses are to be submitted electronically via the MyUni submission portal and theses from previous years can be accessed from the Psychology Test Library - please contact the School of Psychology Office for access information.

    All theses are to be formatted using the APA 6th Edition. Thesis formatting details are detailed in the Honours Psychology Handbook.
    Assessment Detail

    Honours Thesis Criteria

    An outstanding thesis in Honours Psychology should reflect all of the
    following qualities. It should demonstrate:

    (a)   originality and/or a useful contribution to psychological knowledge;

    (b)   mastery of the content area;

    (c)    the ability to develop clear arguments that justify the research aims and cogently discuss the extent to which the aims have been borne out in the findings;

    (d)   clarity and quality of written expression including appropriate figures and tables;

    (e)   a sound research methodology;

    (f)    the ability to apply appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative data analysis;

    (g)   a critical awareness of the implications of the findings as well as the strengths
    and limitations of the study.

    Originality and/ Contribution to Knowledge

    Theses of the highest standard will usually make meaningful contributions to academic knowledge. Some theses may explore novel theories, use innovative methodologies, or new forms of analysis, and whereas others may be very high quality replications of previous research that show an appreciation of the fundamental importance of replication in science.

    Mastery of the Content Area

    Students should demonstrate a very comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. This will be evidenced by the clarity and comprehensiveness of the literature review; the inclusion of relevant studies; the ability to articulate psychological concepts and theories in a meaningful way; the ability to discern the strengths and weaknesses of previous research; and, the ability to interpret results in the context of previous research.

    The Ability to Develop Clear Arguments Relating to the Research Aims

    An outstanding thesis will demonstrate the ability to integrate and interpret material in a logical way. The thesis should not seem disjointed, but have a clear flow of argument that demonstrates the student’s ability to maintain a consistent train of thought. It should be clear how research aims/hypotheses relate to previous research and how this new research contributes to existing

    Clarity and Quality of Written Expression

    High quality theses are always very well written. Students should use appropriate psychological language, but articulate their ideas in a clear, logical manner that is appropriate for scientific reporting. In the highest standard theses, there will be a clear flow of ideas; sound grammar and syntax; an avoidance of excessive jargon or clichés; the ability to express complex ideas clearly using
    one’s own words rather than quotations; and, a demonstrated ability to understand the level of detail that should apply to different sections of the thesis. Figures and tables should be employed appropriately to aid in the communication of relevant material.

    Sound Research Methodology

    The highest quality theses will demonstrate the effective application of the scientific method to psychological research. Studies should (to the best of the student’s ability and available time and resources) be undertaken in a way that optimises the reliability and validity of findings. Major threats to the reliability and validity of findings should be avoided through the development of an appropriate research procedure; selection of appropriate measures for both dependent and independent variables; and, recruitment of a sample suitable for the proposed analyses. All relevant elements of the research methodology should be clearly described so as to allow the study to be replicated.

    Appropriate Quantitative/ Qualitative Research Analysis

    The highest quality theses will apply analyses that are appropriate to the nature of the data that have been collected and which address the principal research aims of the study. Mastery of this area will be demonstrated by: the ability to select and to apply appropriate statistical models or analyses; knowledge of the strengths and limitations of different approaches; the ability to formulate and articulate a coherent analytical strategy for the study; the ability to report findings in a clear and logical manner.

    A Critical Awareness of the Strengths and Limitations of Research Findings

    Students should also be able to demonstrate their ability to provide critical insights into the strengths and limitations of their own research. Potential threats to the validity and reliability of findings should be acknowledged with recommendations for how these might be addressed in extensions or replications of the study. Students should also have the ability to consider competing explanations for their findings and the conceptual problems inherent in attempting to undertake research in the relevant area.

    Grade Determination: IA and IIA range

    A thesis that receives the highest grade possible (IA-I, equivalent mark of 90+) will demonstrate excellence in all of the areas described above. Other grades in the IA and IIA range (70-89) will reflect the extent to which the student’s thesis deviates from the standards described in the above criteria. Lower grades (as described below) would indicate a failure to meet these criteria or even, in particularly poor instances, the basic requirements of a thesis in Honours Psychology.

     Second Class Honours Level B

    Theses in this range meet the basic procedural requirements for the conduct and reporting of a psychological thesis, but have major flaws in most of the areas (a) - (f) described above. A grade in this range reflects fundamental deficits in the ability to communicate ideas, to organise material, or to apply the scientific method to a research problem.   

     Third Class Honours

    The thesis does not demonstrate evidence that the student has developed levels of proficiency in the program objectives. For example, the thesis has failed to provide an adequate literature review, description of their methodology and results, or meaningfully discussed the findings. The problems would be severe enough that the thesis does not provide a meaningful and/or useful contribution to knowledge.

    Honours not awarded

    The thesis cannot be considered as a serious attempt to complete the basic requirements of a fourth year thesis. Fundamental components of the thesis process, including the requirement to collect data, produce a literature review, analyse the data and/or discuss the results have not been completed.

    Details will be made available on MyUni.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M11 (Honours Mark Scheme)
    GradeGrade reflects following criteria for allocation of gradeReported on Official Transcript
    Fail A mark between 1-49 F
    Third Class A mark between 50-59 3
    Second Class Div B A mark between 60-69 2B
    Second Class Div A A mark between 70-79 2A
    First Class A mark between 80-100 1
    Result Pending An interim result RP
    Continuing Continuing CN

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

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    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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