Honours in Aviation

The School of Aviation is proud to be able to offer an Honours in Aviation as part of its comprehensive suite of industry-relevant degrees. It is available as either a one year full-time or a two-year part time program.

The course introduces students to major research areas through a course of advanced lectures and a major research thesis of not more than 15,000 words. Through the taught component of this course, students will critically examine academic and industry developments within aviation with particular emphasis towards the chosen area of their thesis. The research thesis will examine an area of research significance as permitted by the Head of School. Students must have attained a credit average throughout their Bachelor program to be admitted into this program. 

Specialisation will be encouraged in the areas of aviation safety and human factors, commercial airline management (including finance and economics) and aviation meteorology. Potential Honours students need not have a specific topic in mind when notifying the School of their intention of enrolling. Honours students can develop their research topic with their supervisor over the first few weeks of their candidature.

Entry requirements

Credit (WAM 65) plus average in a 3 year full-time bachelor degree specialising in Aviation. This typically includes the UNSW 3980 Aviation (Flying) and 3981 Aviation (Management) programs but may include other Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Engineering programs where students have majored in Aviation or Aerospace Engineering.

Application Process

  1. Think about an area you might be interested in researching by reading the information below.
  2. Contact the Honours Coordinator, David Tan, who can facilitate discussions with a potential Supervisor.
  3. Meet with the potential Supervisors and once a Supervisor agrees to work with you, complete the Honours Application Form.

Components (assessable items) of the Honours Program

  1. Tutorial classes (ongoing)
  2. Preliminary introduction and literature review (approximately mid year - 20%)
  3. Presentation 1 (approximately mid year - 5%)
  4. Presentation 2 (end of year - 10%)
  5. Thesis (end of year - 65%)

Examination Procedure

All assessable items, excluding components 1 and 2 are marked by at least three academics.

Final Grade

Based on performance across all assessable items.

Range of Grades

  • Fail (<49%)
  • Hons. Class III (50% to 64%)
  • Hons. Class II, Division 2 (65% to 74%)
  • Hons. Class II, Division I (75% to 84%)
  • Hons. Class I (>85%)

How to Apply

For further information about the Honours program, please contact:

Dr. David Tan - Honours Coordinator
School of Aviation
The University of New South Wales
Sydney NSW 2052 Australia

Tel. +61 2 9385 7181 (internationally) or 02 9385 7181 (within Australia)
Fax. +61 2 9385 6637 (internationally) or 02 9385 6637 (within Australia)
E-mail: david.tan@unsw.edu.au


Recent projects have included:

  • Network design and connectivity in long-haul low-cost carriers
  • On the value of airline fuel hedging, evidence from global airlines
  • Air passenger shopping behaviour in an airport terminal: a simulation approach
  • The effects of noise cancelling headsets on pilot performance: A study of native English speaking and EL2 pilots
  • Decision rules in making flight choices: Application of vertical protocol analysis and choice experiments
  • Predicting pilots risk taking behaviour
  • The effect of gender on driving behaviour
  • What product factors allow airlines to command a price premium on the Sydney to Los Angeles market?
  • Pilot error in ATC environments
  • The effects of caffeine on pilot's performance and learning ability
  • The changing role of the air transport pilot 1960-2006
  • A comparison of introductory crew resource management training between the Australian Defence Force and Qantas
  • The low cost model evolution: a case study of Jetstar International
  • Unruly passenger behaviour onboard aircraft


UNSW Aviation Honours Alumni:

“I am interested to do the Honours since day 1 of my uni life. I always find research fascinating and honours also greatly improves your chance in securing a job upon graduation. In Singapore, a good Honours is almost a mandatory requirement to apply for certain jobs. I like to believe my honours has given me some advantage in my successful job hunt. I am also able to secure a scholarship to do a PhD in UNSW Aviation (showing the importance of good Honours again!).
I am currently doing research on how airport retail can be enhanced through airport configurations (a continuation of my Honours project). I really like my research topic(that’s why I quit my job to start a PhD!). If you like to do research in certain topic (in the meantime, improve your employability), I believe Honours is a good option.”

– Yimeng Chen, UNSW Aviation Honours 2014


Available Research Supervisors

Below is a brief description of UNSW Aviation research staff’s areas of expertise. Note that Honours topics are not confined to those listed below. Research supervisors often develop Honours topics with students that are mutual topics of interest. Applicants should contact the Honours coordinator, Dr David Tan (david.tan@unsw.edu.au), who will facilitate discussions with desired/suitable research supervisors.

Professor Jason Middleton
Email: j.middleton@unsw.edu.au
Professor Jason Middleton's area of interest is in environmental fluid dynamics, including coastal oceanography and aviation meteorology. In the past Professor Middleton has undertaken research into sea-breezes, microbursts and wind gusts. His present interests are in wake flows arising from natural objects in wind and ocean current streams.

Professor Ann Williamson
Email: a.williamson@unsw.edu.au
Professor Ann Williamson's research is in the area of human factors, primarily focusing on two related areas; the effects of fatigue and the role of human error in injury and safety.

Associate Professor Richard Wu
Email: c.l.wu@unsw.edu.au
Associate Professor Richard Wu specializes in solving operations and scheduling problems of airlines and airports. These problems include airline operations management, scheduling, airport terminal planning, airport retail development and passenger choice behavior studies. The focus of his research for the past year was on modelling air passengers’ purchase behaviours in airport terminals.

Dr. Carlo Caponecchia
Email: carloc@unsw.edu.au
Dr Carlo Caponecchia undertakes research in Human factors across several related domains, including error classification methods (transport and health); risk perception and behaviour; and psychological hazards at work.

Dr Ian Douglas
Email: ian.douglas@unsw.edu.au
Dr Ian Douglas’ primary research areas include airline strategy and air transport economics. Dr Douglas also has research interests in the role of experiential learning in higher education. Research projects under Dr Douglas’ supervision include a study of long-haul operations by low cost carriers, evaluation of the future role of global airline alliances, and the impact of High Speed Rail on short-haul airline operations.

Associate Professor Brett Molesworth
Email: b.molesworth@unsw.edu.au
Dr Brett Molesworth research interests lie in investigating human performance factors that affect behaviour in aviation, including that of pilots, cabin crew and air traffic control officers. He also investigates human performance factors in the road safety and medicine. For road, potential projects include examining the predictors of risk-taking behaviour with young drivers as well as continue research investigating training methods to improve young drivers' speed management behaviour. For medicine, potential projects include distinguishing between errors and violations as well as the application of the Human Factors Classification Framework. 

Dr Tay Koo
Email: t.koo@unsw.edu.au
Dr Tay Koo’s research involves the spatial measurement and mechanics of tourism mobilities. His on-going interest in aviation and geographic dispersal of visitors reflects the fact that it represents a context in which a spatialised understanding of the aviation and tourism nexus can be developed and examined.

Dr David Tan
Email: david.tan@unsw.edu.au
Dr David Tan’s primary research interests include the modelling of airline behaviour and passenger behaviour, the application of financial risk modelling techniques to tourism and air transport, and airline financial risk management strategies. He also maintains an active research agenda in corporate finance, asset pricing, and applied econometrics.