Bachelor of Biomedicine (Degree with Honours)
- CRICOS Code: 073113J
Discover the student experience from current and graduate Honours students.
Bachelor of Biomedicine (Degree with Honours) graduate (2017)
Honours has extended my knowledge on the causal relationships involved in disease as I learnt about the intersection between social interaction and illness. It's taken the integrative thinking skills I learned in Biomedicine and expanded it to considering how social factors impact on human health and, in turn, how health can benefit from certain social factors. I believe this knowledge is important when working within the health sector. Honours has also taught me additional skills such as office etiquette, how to work in a team with supervisors, how to manage your own project and it's developed my writing and people skills.
My Honours cohort were incredibly supportive to each other, not just academically, but socially too. I definitely developed some lasting friendships. There was also an onslaught of support from the department itself. There's a wonderful balance of being guided through yet being taught to work independently. Honours proved to be an amazing experience.
Cheng Hwee SOH
PhD student, Bachelor of Biomedicine (Degree with Honours) graduate (2018)
I decided to study an Honours year because research-based study really appeals to me and I wanted to know what it was like to be a clinical researcher. Honours helped me to develop important skills like critical thinking and problem solving, and has made me more confident. The highlight of my Honours year was my time spent in the computer lab with my fellow Honours students working on our thesis. I’m currently studying a PhD in the Department of Medicine, and there’s no question that doing an Honours year helped me to figure out that a career in research was something I wanted to pursue.
PhD student, Bachelor of Biomedicine (Degree with Honours) graduate (2019)
I decided to study Honours because I have always wanted to do neuroscience research, and the Honours - PhD pathway was pretty straight-forward. The unknowns about how the year would go were pretty exciting. A strong biomedical research community was also appealing, and I was always willing to be independent and that’s exactly what I got with the University.
What I like most about the Honours was the sheer amount of practical learning. My undergraduate had a relatively small amount of practical work, so the opportunity to learn and apply technical skills like two-photon imaging and surgery was hectic and rewarding. Furthermore, the first time I successfully live-imaged neurons in a functioning brain, where I clapped my hands and saw them light up, was something truly magical.
I’m currently doing a PhD - MDHS at the Florey, at the same lab that I did my Honours year in. I picked the lab because I’m into the questions that the lab’s into, so the techniques and conceptual approach are what I wanted to learn and apply in my PhD. Last but not least, my advice for future and current Honours students is learn to make mistakes. A coursework environment rejects mistakes, but research is as much about the unexpected as the planned.
Doctor of Medicine student, Bachelor of Biomedicine (Degree with Honours) graduate (2019)
When I finished my bachelor, I was at a loss of what I should do. Should I apply for medicine like my friends? Was I ready for the heavy workload? After some thought I decided to not take a gap year but instead explore something new and exciting – research! Despite my undergraduate degree in biomedicine, I was not vastly exposed to research. I concluded that honours would be the perfect extension to my studies that was both motivating and a change to the traditional theory learning I was accustomed to.
Honours was very attractive for many reasons. The first was the complete freedom to research in any field of my choosing. It gave me the best opportunity to research at The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre about breast cancer under an amazing and supportive supervisor - Dr. Kara Britt! The second was the sense of empowerment it advocated for – I got to be a leader over my own project, work in a lab, think like a scientist, and write a thesis. I was never the most confident person in my undergrad labs, but honours promised me a supportive and unique lab experience - and it did not disappoint!
When I first began honours, I was so nervous because I didn’t know any lab techniques. Under amazing supervision, I grew to be confident in my abilities and I was eventually able to carry out experiments independently. That was a big turning point for me, as it gave me insight on how empowering a career in research was and the possibility of a PhD. Other exciting features included meeting like-minded people who were so nice and working in a team. I also got to attend so many seminars and conferences that were being led by amazing doctors and researchers. I know I wouldn’t have had these opportunities without honours.
I gained skills that I continue to take with me in my learning journey. I learnt various lab techniques (in vitro and in vivo), the meaning of team work, and improved my communication/writing skills. However, the most important lesson, personally, was the ability to think like a scientist and not give up when experiments did not go to plan. I matured by making critical decisions, trying out new ideas and listening to feedback.
My advice for future and current Honours students is to not be scared or overwhelmed to enrol in honours. You often hear from other students that honours is hard and difficult. Honours does require hard work and dedication, but it is also one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences in my opinion. Let go of your insecurities and explore the world of research.
PhD student, Bachelor of Biomedicine (Degree with Honours) graduate (2019)
I had just completed a masters degree by coursework in a non-related degree, and decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was at a crossroads in terms of my future and a bit lost about my path forward. I knew I enjoyed research and thought, well, honours is only a year long, so if I hate it I haven’t committed to another long degree (and another addition to my HELP debt). On the reverse side, if I loved it, honours was a good springboard into further research.
I really enjoyed the seminars in the various topics – there was a great variety that was covered in a lot of novel, niche areas.
I developed a lot of skills in time management as I found the coursework very demanding – it really pushed me to prioritise important tasks. I also developed my public speaking skills and presentation skills.
I loved connecting with other honours students and working collaboratively with my peers. One of my highlights was watching the presentations from other students – seeing how their projects developed and changed due to unforeseen obstacles, and the progress they made in both their research and in themselves (as in, personal growth).
My advice for future and current Honours students is that collaborating with other students is definitely recommended and really helped me, both in improving the quality of my work as well as being a support base when the work is really tough. Honours is a very demanding year – or, a very demanding first few months, as the coursework is quite strenuous. But once the coursework is done, everything calms down and it’s easier to cope.
My current degree, PhD - MDHS (Psychiatry), is focussed on sleep and mental illness, with a particular focus on brain structures and neuroimaging. This dovetails nicely with my honours year, which focussed on neuroimaging within schizophrenia. I’m in the same lab as for my honours year, and have enjoyed building on the relationships I began in my honours year.
Working in mental health research, I feel like the work that I do, no matter how small, is making some progress towards developing our understanding of mental illness. On the days when I feel discouraged that the work that I do is useless or that nothing I do really contributes to anything, I try to remember that we have made such progress in our knowledge of mental illness over time and have begun to develop adequate treatments for it. It encourages me that each little extra bit of knowledge builds on previous research to develop this understanding and generates progress towards adequate treatment.
Bachelor of Biomedicine (Degree with Honours) graduate (2019)
I am extremely lucky in that my Honours project involves a semester abroad in Sri Lanka. Along with two other students, I will be collecting data pertaining to indoor air population in rural Sri Lankan communities. Unclean energies are commonly used as the primary energy source in many Sri Lankan households. Exposure to the resultant pollutants place families at high risk of related morbidities. We will be looking specifically at outcomes respiratory and antenatal in nature.
This hands-on in country experience is no doubt the most exciting aspect of the degree. It draws on the more theoretical based learning of my first three years of undergraduate studies to develop practical skills in global health research.
For those thinking of applying for Honours in the future I’d say think outside of the box in terms of the project you choose. There are so many different options from lab to field-based – there really is something to suit all interests. Your project may coincide with your major or lead you in a different direction, like mine did.