For your info, I am a 17yr high school student currently live in Australia. As the applications for university entry is just around the corner, I am searching for an appropriate degree that suits my interest.

I frequently come across these various "honours" degree and not "straight forward" degree.

For instance, I want to do civil engineering, I see:

"Bachelors of Engineering (Honours)" and not "Bachelor of Civil Engineering" or "Bachelor of computer science"

SO What exactly is an honours degree?

I would normally ask these questions to the career guidance and career fest at my local school, but due to the current situation, I hardly get the opportunity to ask any questions about universities and whatnot. So I apologise if this question is too basic or inappropriate for this site. Thanks.

Here is the site I am looking at: https://future-students.uq.edu.au/study/programs/bachelor-engineering-honours-2342

  • 8
    Probably better in the Academics stack. – Solar Mike Jul 2 '20 at 12:58
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    Usually Honours means more credits gained during the degree, some degrees can be taken with or without honours. Depends on the degree and institution. – Solar Mike Jul 2 '20 at 13:00
  • I did an Erasmus in UK a decade ago and at the time 'Honours' meant a 4th year on the degree. Having a look in your link, it seems it is also the case for UQ. The question for me would be if you can get the 'without honours' degree after 3 years or those are degrees that force you into studying a total of 4 years, because as @SolarMike say that could be a possibility. It was typical also for the students to go for without honors, work some years and come back for the honours degree later on. I found that fantastic as it gave them a better perspective of the studies coming back from industry. – LaintalAy Jul 2 '20 at 13:23
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    @LaintalAy In Australia Engineering degrees are 4 years. Bachelor of Science degrees (B.Sc) are 3 years, plus an additional year if you want (Hons) added on. – Peter M Jul 2 '20 at 14:23
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    @LaintalAy my UK university gave you an honours if you did better than a simple pass, even on a 3 year degree. – HorusKol Jul 2 '20 at 21:50

Caveat that this is not a definitive answer, and probably could be considered a long comment, but it's the best I could do.

After some research I discovered a description of Bachelor of Engineering (BE) at UQ (from 2015), which has this note:


The Bachelor of Engineering is no longer available.

This is the equivalent Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (BE(Hons)) from 2021. Note that both course requirements include 64 units.

So for some reason UQ has dropped the non-Honours degree, but I don't know how this would work. For example, from Monash (of which I am very familiar) they state:

In Engineering we award our bachelor degrees with honours for meritorious performance. An additional honours year is not required.

And I expected that UQ would have been the same given that the the course load for both honours and non-honours was the same. I can't explain how they can just hand out an honours degree.

Please note that on the UQ pages they have a direct contact number for enquiries. I'd highly recommend that given you can't speak to your local guidance people that you call the university directly:

Enquiries for Australian students

Manager, Academic Administration, Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Email: enquiries@eait.uq.edu.au

Phone: 07 3365 4777

Finally, in the Australian way of things you get a degree in Engineering with the speciality in parenthesis. EG "Bachelor of Engineering (Civil)" and not "Bachelor of Civil Engineering"

  • Thanks (ps Sorry for the delayed reply.) – Nhoj_Gonk Jul 8 '20 at 6:01

A honors degree might involve a combination of the following:

  • Attain a certain GPA or average (e.g. an average of 85% or greater)
  • More advanced topics in the discipline
  • Steeper requirements in terms of prerequisites (e.g. GPA/Average, knowledge)
  • Taking more courses

Here is the description of honors degrees provided by my university:

Honours. This option usually involves intense specialization in a single field. An honours B.Sc. requires maintenance of a high academic standing and may involve preparation of a graduating thesis.

Honours candidates are required to follow the course of study as set out in the Calendar, to pass all courses completed, and to maintain a minimum overall 68% average in each academic session (higher in some disciplines).

Candidates for honours must meet the credit requirements below both before entering honours and while in honours. Honours specializations that have corresponding majors specializations normally admit qualified students upon promotion to third year (see Course and Specialization Approval).

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    Is this list applied to one specific institution or all across the world? As it bears no relationship to the Honours degree I completed. – Solar Mike Jul 3 '20 at 7:14
  • @SolarMike, I reworded the answer to remove the word usually. What did your degree require for it to be an Honours degree? – zmike Jul 3 '20 at 18:35

The reason is they found it was hard to get students jobs without the additional honours degree component. It's just an extra year of study with an internship component. the internship component is the actual reason it's an honours, as they cannot cram everything into 3 years, and a bachelor's full time is not meant to be 4 years.

Yes, they add a thesis and some extra subjects, but it is really about the internship.

Better advice is to do a double degree - it adds an extra year into your time there, but it broadens your knowledge, makes you more versatile and gives you a better idea of what you want to do.

  • Was a good answer, until "better advice is...". More facts, less opinion :-). – Jeffrey Jul 3 '20 at 0:05
  • @jeffrey this is the reason why Aussie unis are all heading towards honours only courses. as for the opinion - it really is a fact, as more people get degrees, a simple degree is no longer carries the same weight. this is evidenced by the Aussie move to hons degrees, actually. adding a double and then a masters in a management or, failing that parallel discipline gives you a lot of versatility. I'm not sure where the opinion is, actually. – bharal Jul 3 '20 at 7:15

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