The Honours programs are intended for students who combine a high level of academic achievement with a desire to complete independent research during an undergraduate degree. Students who plan to pursue a postgraduate degree (MSc and/or PhD) are recommended to complete an Honours degree.
The Earth Science department offers both Concentrated Honours and Combined Honours degrees. The Concentrated program provides a focused education in Earth Sciences. In their final year, students in Concentrated Honours must register in ERTH4201 and 4202, within which they complete an independent research project leading to a thesis on a topic within the broad realm of Earth Sciences.
Combined Honours programs allow students to combine Earth Sciences with another subject. The other subject may be from any discipline within the Faculty of Science or the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, or may be a program in Computer Science or Environment, Sustainability and Society (ESS).
The thesis may be completed in either Earth Sciences (as ERTH4201 + 4202) or the other subject, and usually in the subject in which the student has the greatest number of courses. The department in which the thesis is written should be chosen in consultation with both departments during the student's third year.
Applying for Honours
Students who intend to do Honours should begin planning a course sequence that meets Honours requirements during their second year of study. Requirements are listed in the Dalhousie Undergraduate Calendar; the calendar for the academic year in which a student began their BSc applies.
The formal application process occurs in the Winter semester of the student's penultimate year (i.e. 3rd year for most students), at which time most of the required second and third year courses have been completed. In that semester, students should do the following:
1) Conduct a self-check to ensure that Honours GPA and course requirements are satisfied. Planned courses may be used to meet the requirements for the purpose of the application, but they must be completed, and GPA requirements satisfied before graduation or Honours status would be forfeited. The degree requirements for the current academic year are listed on our website under Degree Requirements as well as a flowchart to assist with course selection.
2) Find an appropriate thesis topic and supervisor (this can be done concurrently with #3 below). It is the responsibility of students to arrange for a supervisor for their thesis research. Honours theses in Earth Sciences may be supervised by a faculty member of the department or by an external scientist, subject to the approval of the Honours Coordinator. Students with an external supervisor who is not a faculty member at Dalhousie must also find a co-supervisor in the Earth Science department. Students should begin to search for a supervisor and topic during the year prior to starting the thesis, and are strongly recommended to have the topic and supervisor in place by May of that year. A list of potential topics and supervisors are posted by the department during the winter semester, but students are encouraged to begin an independent search prior to this posting.
3) Fill out the Honours Application Form (obtained from the Office of the Registrar) and submit it to the Earth Sciences Undergraduate Advisor. All completed and planned courses must be listed in chronological order (the order in which they were taken) on the Honours Application. The Undergraduate Advisor and the Registrar will check the form to ensure requirements are met.
5) Register in ERTH4201 and 4202 (Honours Thesis), held in the Fall and Winter semesters of the student's final year.
THESIS AND DEFENSE:
An oral defense follows completion of the thesis. Defenses are held in the Honours Symposium near the end of the winter semester. The defense is graded independently from the thesis and comprises a student's Honours Qualifying Examination. A grade of B- or better must be achieved on the Honours Qualifying Examination. The thesis and defense must be completed by the posted deadline in March or early April. Students who do not meet this date must re-register for the following academic year in ERTH 4201 and 4202, pay the fees, and graduate at the spring convocation of the next academic year.
Combined Honours students who complete a thesis in the other subject should consult that department for policies and deadlines regarding their thesis course.