Current Students

BPhil (Hons)

robyn owens

Your student experience

Research produces new knowledge in any field and socialises it by sharing with the broader community. UWA is a research-intensive university with a strong collaborative research culture that contributes to local and global communities".

—  Winthrop Professor Robyn Owens, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

This is where you'll find research information, activities and resources about being a BPhil (Hons) student. Being a researcher is at the core of this community and provides the platform for your experiences with a research team (Level 2 and 3) and progressing through to your Honours course (Level 4). 


Settling in to the BPhil programAccess student transition advice including UniStart, Orientation, Link Week, UniMentor, your BPhil coordinator, and more.

UWA offers a range of services to all BPhil students to help you settle in, learn the university lingo, and have a great start to your university experience. Your UWA experience starts with the BPhil Summer Residence, a five day live-in orientation program. You’ll meet the other members of your cohort, participate in orientation activities, hear from leading researchers and meet Faculty Deans and members of the University Executive.  The Summer Residence occurs two weeks prior to the start of semester 1 and is a required component of your degree. UniStart Orientation is also a great time to find your way around and meet fellow students. Get to know your University Library online or with a tour.

All new BPhil students are linked with a UniMentor during the Summer Residence to guide you through your first few weeks. Once you begin, more advice and activities are on hand in Link Week, which is held in the second week of each semester. Plus at any time, BPhil students can contact the BPhil (Hons) Coordinator who understands the issues you may face as a new student and can link you to a range of services and support to help you connect to the UWA community.

You can also volunteer to be a Mentor yourself, which is a worthwhile experience and a good addition to any resumé. Please note, to be a BPhil Mentor you need to be available to attend the BPhil Summer Residence and must complete your mentor training in October the year before.

Student community and campus facilities Get connected to UWA through social media and join clubs to socialise on and off campus.

All BPhil students automatically qualify as members of the BPhil Union, free of charge. The BPhil Union exists to represent and support BPhil students at the University of Western Australia, and is run by an elected committee of current BPhil students. They run social events during the year; join the Facebook Group to stay in the loop.

You can also become a member of the UWA Student Guild and UWA Sports Association by ticking the options in studentConnect. Stay up to date with uni events through the student events calendar and visit the Cultural Precinct, theatres & galleries to engage with the UWA arts community.

The Crawley campus offers a wide variety of services for all students, with the Guild Village at the heart of many activities. Become acquainted with UWA Campuses and Colleges through the campus map, seek health advice and make appointments at the UWA Medical Centre, learn about transport and parking, report and replace your lost Campus Card and contact Security about any safety concerns. Visit the UWA Library for Library computing, printing and IT support, and parents can make use of child care and baby change facilities.

University administration servicesFind your online FAQs, forms and in-person contact locations as a current BPhil student.

University administration has been streamlined thanks to the newly-built Student Central located between the Guild Village, Social Sciences, James Oval and Oak Lawn, open 8.30am to 5pm weekdays. Find out about important dates, log in to studentConnect, speak to your BPhil (Hons) coordinator, acquaint yourself with the BPhil course policies and rules, and consult the Handbook for further information.

Academic services and skills supportAccess support services to refresh or improve your study, literacy, numeracy, presentation skills, and more.

All BPhil students needing special consideration should apply to the BPhil office; please read the policy on special consideration to see if you meet the criteria, complete the form, and send or bring it to the BPhil office. For more information about services offered in BPhil, relevant workshops, seminars and other events, see your BPhil coordinator

STUDYSmarter offers a comprehensive program to help you develop your communication, studying, researching, planning, numeracy, English language and writing skills. Sign up to the GETSmart newsletter for study advice, tips from students and reminders about events. Support and advice is also available from the Guild Student Assist team for those with academic concerns (for example appeals and complaints or special consideration issues) or for students who require advocacy and assistance.   

University LibrarySee your library loans, arrange a private or group study space, order special books, and check referencing guides.

The University Library provides resources, reference guides, spaces, research assistance and IT support as you navigate essays, group projects, reports, evening and weekend study sessions and research at UWA. You can visit the information desk in any subject library for advice and assistance on finding and referencing information, using the University’s OneSearch system and accessing the specialist software (such as NVivo and SPSS) available on some library PCs.

There are many computers available to you in subject libraries, plus Wi-Fi, and BPhil students have access to the Get It document delivery and inter-library loan service. Send documents to your print queue from any student PC or your own device and then use your campus card to print at any student printer on campus.

Overseas studyOverseas study is a compulsory component of the BPhil (Hons) course. You are recommended to research your options early.

UWA STUDY ABROAD: The UWA Global Learning Office offers the opportunity to study overseas at one of the 130 partner institutions for one or two semesters to gain credit towards your degree, explore a world of opportunities, meet new people and experience different cultures. Options include:

  • Full-semester exchange at a partner university.
  • Short-term exchange at a partner university (usually during winter or summer break).
  • Short-term study abroad (usually during winter or summer break).
  • Faculty-led programs (e.g. China Field Study, Stuttgart Winter University, Bali Arts Studio).

STUDENT EXCHANGE: Applications for exchange close 9 months prior to the departure dates. Applications for short term programs become available all year round: see Global Studio for information on available programs.

PRIVATE STUDY ABROAD: This applies to time spent overseas that is not part of a formal exchange relationship between UWA and another university. It involves you applying directly to an overseas university and tuition fees are paid directly to that university.

If you are interested in a program that is not listed on Global Studio, please speak to the Academic Coordinator to determine its suitability. Please note the Academic Coordinator must approve ALL units studied overseas if you are seeking to credit them towards your UWA degree.

To have units from a private study abroad credited to your degree:

Study Abroad Scholarship: Scholarship applications close at the end of April (for winter and semester 2 exchanges) and August (summer and semester 2 exchanges) and applications should be submitted as early as possible.  Please note, funds are usually not released until after you have departed for your study abroad experience.  

Research PlacementsThe BPhil (Hons) course is specifically research-oriented.

BPhil students are required to undertake a research placement in Level 2. In this placement you will work with a leading researcher or research group for a semester (or equivalent). In Level 3 you are required to participate in research activities, which may include a placement, a project-based unit or similar. Start exploring Faculties’, Schools’ and Institutes’ research pages to identify potential areas of interest. 

For information on applying for research placements, placement forms, research ethics guides and presentation sign-up sheets, visit the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) (BH005) Community on Blackboard.

Balancing study and lifeKeep yourself physically and emotionally healthy throughout your time at UWA.

UWA has facilities, services and community programs to support health and wellbeing and a study-life balance during study. Advice relating to finance for education expenses, help with emergency finance, budgeting and accessing income support, are available via the Student Finance team and also at Guild Student Assist. You may also be eligible for government assistance. The Housing Office runs a housing database plus information and advice on housing issues, including leases, tenants’ rights and responsibilities and household costs. UWA Sports has a fully-equipped gym, a wide range of group fitness classes and indoor and outdoor sports courts with a variety competitions and recreation courses. The UWA Counselling and Psychological Services provide free, confidential counselling as well as resources and group sessions to UWA students, the UniAccess team supports students with a disability or medical condition (short-term or long-term) that impacts upon their ability to study or participate in University life and the UWA Medical Centre provides comprehensive medical care (including alcohol and drug counselling, travel advice and vaccinations).

Build your career skillsBe well prepared for your future careers and stay informed about global opportunities and internships.

The Careers Centre provides online resources to help you develop and manage your career, plus events throughout the year including a Careers Fair, seminars and workshops. Make an appointment with a careers adviser to discuss your pathway in more detail, and use Career Mentor Link for access to professionals with industry knowledge and career experience. There are also volunteering opportunities on- and off-campus to fit your interests. To further your public speaking and leadership skills, consider joining the UWA Toastmasters Club.

The Dr Vincent Harry Cooper Memorial Prize

The Dr Vincent Harry Cooper Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the BPhil (Hons) student who has submitted the most outstanding dissertation. The Selection Committee will select the prize winner from BPhil (Hons) students with the highest mark achieved for the dissertation from each of the following areas of study:

  • Biological and Medical Sciences and Biotechnology
  • Engineering, Mathematics and Informatics
  • Humanities and Creative Arts
  • Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
  • Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences

The selection committee judges the dissertations on novelty of idea or approach; creativity and clarity; and the impact in the relevant field.

The Prize was established by Mr Roderick Cooper in honour of his father, Dr Vincent Harry Cooper. Dr Vincent Harry Cooper was a foundation Board Member and Chairman of the Western Australian Faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He was also a pioneering General Practitioner Obstetrician in Western Australia.

Prize Winners

Jordan Lockhart won the prize for his 2016 dissertation, From Wang-Koo To Xi-Ma: Searching for a Breakthrough in Cross-Strait Affairs.

Calum Braham won the prize for his 2015 dissertation, What can complex networks tell us about Australian football?

Students in the News and in Profile

BPhil (Hons) students are high achievers in a diverse range of disciplines. See the following links for some of their achievements in music, computing, political science and medical research.

Brief summaries of some Honours dissertations undertaken by BPhil (Hons) students are included below.

anishAnish Badgeri

Dissertation: Limitations of Beijing’s Economic Lure in Dampening Taipei’s Quest for Separate Statehood. The relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) is embedded in a deep historical and ideological struggle dating back to the founding of modern China in 1912. After decades of separation, China and Taiwan have recently begun engaging in cross-strait economic, cultural, and educational exchanges. This dissertation will examine the extent of cross-strait economic convergence, and will analyse the implications of this on Taiwan’s desire and ability to pursue greater international recognition through meaningful participation in Inter-Governmental Organisations and effective bilateral diplomatic relations.

Why my research is important: The stability of cross-strait relations has significant implications for regional and global security, and the recent electoral success of the anti-unification Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan has generated concern in Beijing. This dissertation will contribute to a growing study of policy making, and will synthesise the most contemporary electoral and trade statistics in order to present a holistic understanding of Taiwan’s future security and economic prosperity. It will also serve to develop a better understanding of China’s economic and security interests, and to test the validity of China’s “peaceful rise” rhetoric.

Funding:UWA Fogarty Foundation City Scholarship and New Colombo Plan Mobility Scholarship

diDianne McWilliam

Dissertation: Analysing the determinants of cross-country income inequality.

Supervisor: Dr Michael Jetter (UWA)

Summary: Inequality has reached a turning point in history. Income inequality between all individuals in the world had been increasing since the Industrial Revolution but recently it has been decreasing, driven by decreasing inequality between countries. This dissertation explores the differences in average per capita income between countries (cross-country inequality) and aims to assess the determinants of this inequality across time. Using a methodology that calculates ‘adjusted’ Gini coefficients (Almas et al 2011), we can analyse the long-term trends in cross-country inequality after accounting for differences in proximate or fundamental determinants. We also examine the extent to which these determinants have contributed to inequality over time. The findings from this research may inform policymakers seeking to decrease inequality. 

nicNicholas Dunstan

Dissertation:  Changes in the Structure and Dynamics of an Antibacterial Target in Neisseria

Summary: The genus Neisseria is comprised of Gram-negative bacteria that colonise cells on mucosal surfaces. Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae are the causative agents of prevalent infectious diseases, respectively meningitis and gonorrhoea. These pathogens complete infection by synthesising specific molecules (including proteins) known as virulence determinants that evade components of the host innate immune system. 

A protein’s three-dimensional structure will dictate its function in an organism. Further, proteins conformationally fluctuate, or change shape, as they execute their tasks within the cell. By elucidating the structure-function relationship of a virulence determinant protein, as well as the conformational changes that it undergoes over time, it becomes possible to design drugs that bind and inactivate the protein. In this way the mechanism for bacterial pathogenesis becomes blocked, rendering the pathogen susceptible to natural clearance by the host immune system.

An Honours project in 2016 has chosen to focus on one specific virulence determinant protein in pathogenic Neisseria. A range of molecular biology and biophysical techniques shall be employed in order to experimentally validate a computerised model of conformational movement by this protein.

This research represents one step towards the long-term goal of devising innovative ways to treat infectious diseases that venture beyond the use of traditional antibiotics. The emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria like N. gonorrhoeae has made such a pursuit especially crucial as the medical world braces itself for a post-antibiotic era. Success in this field will produce economic benefits as well, significantly reducing public health costs among the most disadvantaged regions of our world.

nikNikhilesh Bappoo

Dissertation:  3D haemodynamic analysis of biomechanical factors in a late gestation rat feto-placental arterial network

Supervisors:  Dr Barry Doyle and Dr Caitlin Wyrwoll (UWA)

Summary: "Placental vessel development is intricately linked to fetal development and the quality of adulthood life. However, there is an existing knowledge gap in biomechanical factors know to regulate cellular processes in vessel development. Through VascLab, I have been able to combine my Mechanical Engineering and Pathology majors in a biomedical engineering honours thesis which aims to bridge this gap. My research project aims to improve current 3D image reconstructions of placental blood vessels from control and stressed rat models during pregnancy, and investigate haemodynamics and wall shear stress using computational fluid dynamics.  These cutting edge measurements will allow us to better understand placental development and associated pathologies during pregnancy."

Achievements:

  • Dr Daniel Berinson Academic Excellence Engineering Scholarship
  • Rio Tinto-UWA Masterclass Bursary 
  • Intensive Chinese Language and Culture Program at Nanyang Technological University Singapore
  • Level 2 Research Placement in Immunology and vaccination titled “Anti-Urease Responses From A Human H.pylori Challenge Study” with Dr Alma Fulurija

alvinAlvin Djajadikerta

Dissertation:  A novel bioinformatic approach for the identification of genes important in brain development and disease

Supervisors: Professor Alistair Forrest and Associate Professor Julian Heng (UWA, Harry Perkins Institute)

Summary: The human brain is among the most complex of all systems, and the genes important to its function (and dysfunction) have not yet been fully clarified. The recent rise of next-generation sequencing has provided a wealth of information potentially useful for disease gene discovery. My project aims to utilise this resource to predict novel genes that might be important in brain diseases, and subsequently test these predictions experimentally using sophisticated in vitro and in vivo techniques.

Why my research is important: Identifying novel disease genes is critical to improving the precision of genetic screening and thus the immediate clinical outcomes of patients. Additionally, a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms in the brain is a crucial starting point for the long-term development of therapeutics.

anabelAnnabel Price

Dissertation:  Not so far away: Can affinity alleviate intergenerational discounting in the climate game?

Supervisors: Dr Mark Hurlstone (UWA), Dr Zoe Leviston (CSIRO), Susie Wang (PhD candidate)

Summary: Climate change is a global problem, and solving it requires global cooperation. Yet in the twenty years leading up to the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris, diplomatic parties at international negotiations failed to agree on an effective treaty. My research explores a key barrier to cooperation known as intergenerational discounting—the human tendency to ‘discount’ the value of benefits for future generations, compared to benefits for ourselves. Further, it tests whether cooperation can be improved using persuasive messages designed to enhance intergenerational affinity—a sense of connection and closeness with future generations. We used a collective-risk experiment to test groups of six players, each representing countries at international climate negotiations, and their ability to cooperate and avoid dangerous climate change. Our findings revealed that reading affinity-based messages can improve cooperation between players. This has important implications for facilitating cooperation at future international climate negotiations.

Why my research is important: Avoiding the extreme effects of climate change requires global greenhouse gas emissions to be halved by the year 2050—a feat no single nation can achieve alone. International climate negotiations play a crucial role in coordinating a large-scale, multilateral response to climate change. However the success of such negotiations rests upon the cooperation of diplomatic parties from 195 nations. My research suggests that intergenerational discounting (and its damaging effect on cooperation) can be greatly reduced by creating persuasive messages centred on intergenerational affinity. More generally, my research identifies a mechanism by which to lessen this detrimental effect of intergenerational discounting on individual and group decision-making in relation to climate change.

Funding: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

Publications

  • Hurlstone, M. J., Price, A., Wang, S., Leviston, Z., & Walker, I. (2016, in preparation). Building affinity with future generations mitigates intergenerational discounting in the climate game.
  • Hurlstone, M. J., Price, A., Wang, S., Leviston, Z., & Walker, I. (2016, submitted). Cooperation studies of catastrophe avoidance: Implications for climate negotiations.