Honours

The Australian National University offers a specialist Astronomy and Astrophysics Honours Program. The one-year course is designed as a preparation for PhD research in astrophysics and provides the opportunity to develop your research skills, in addition to focussed coursework that provides a solid foundation for further study. Any student completing the course will be in an excellent position to continue to astrophysical research at any Australian university or overseas. An honours degree is also recognised by employers in industry as an indication of your ability to solve problems, work independently, and to conduct research.

The astrophysics honours program is taught jointly by the Mathematical Sciences Institute, the Research School of Physics and Engineering, and by the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (Mt Stromlo Observatory).

Why study astronomy and astrophysics at ANU?

  • Study with internationally-renowned astronomers: ANU astronomers are outstanding achievers: we are proud to have the only Nobel-prize winning Australian astronomer, three researchers that have been awarded the governments prestigious Federation Fellowships, and six of the most highly-cited Australian scientists.
  • Study with one of our academic astronomers making discoveries in many fields: We have nearly 50 academic staff who can offer a wide range of exciting honours projects and courses, from studies of planets to galaxy to cosmology, both for the theoretically- and observationally-inclined students.
  • Study in a working observatory: the RSAA operates a working observatory, with our own telescope facilities. This provides unrivalled observing opportunities and experience for our students.
  • Be part of the wider astronomy community: RSAA has a lively atmosphere, with many astronomers and technical staff, and a large number of national and international visitors pass through each year. 
  • Pursue exciting job opportunities: all of our honours students who wished to continue in astronomy have been successful in finding PhD places. Over 80% of our PhD graduates who wish to continue in astronomy over the last ten years have found astronomy research jobs.

The RSAA honours program

You can choose to enrol in the BSc(Hons) Astronomy and Astrophysics program, which enables you to specialise totally in astronomy and astrophysics. Alternatively, you can enrol in either the BSc(Hons) Mathematics or BSc(Hons) Physics programs, while still completing an astronomical research project and some astronomy coursework. If you are uncertain, you can enrol in the astronomy and astrophysics program and change to one of the other programs during the honours year.

  • Click the Courses tab above for information about Astronomy and Astrophysics Honours program course work and rules
  • The RSAA research project database can be found here. You can search the database for a suitable Honours reserach project, however, other projects may be available. Please contact your proposed supervisor to ask about potential Honours research projects.

Admission requirements and Application process

To be admitted into the astrophysics honours program, a student must have successfully completed three years of a suitable undergraduate program, including a large proportion of maths and physics courses. An average grade of distinction (70%) or above is required. In special cases, these requirements can be waived, at the discretion of the heads of department. For more information about the application process and deadlines, please refer to the ANU College of Science website.

Honours Year Scholarships

The top applicant each year will be awarded the Bok Honours Year Scholarship: a prestigious award valued at $5000. Conditions of Award and application details can be found on the ANU Scholarships database. Students are also encouraged to apply for an ANU Honours Scholarship.

Honours Year timeline

The Honours year commences at the end of January, thesis submission is required at the end of October each year. Please find more information for important Honours year dates and Honours year timeline (1st and 2nd semester) on the ANU College of Science website.

Further information

For further information, or to request admission materials, please contact our RSAA honours convener, A/Prof Michael Ireland.

Courses

Please click the "Coursework" button above under "More information" to see a list of current courses offered by RSAA for Honours students.

Projects

The honours program in astronomy and astrophysics includes a research project that accounts for 50% of the assessment. Students work with a supervisor from among the research staff at the RSAA on a topic from any area of astronomy. Students are encouraged to discuss possible projects with staff when they arrive at the school to find a project in which they are interested. 

You can browse the research interests of our astronomers and view the list of current and recent projects for more information about the type of research that our staff and students are doing. A list of potential research projects can be found on the RSAA project database or under the respective research theme.

The RSAA honours/Masters research project course convenor is also able to assist with project selection and connecting students with potential supervisors.