Honours Projects: Geoscience

Academics in Geoscience

Professor Andy Baker

Dr Hayley Bates

Professor Robert Brander

Mr David Edwards  

Dr Ian Graham

Associate Professor John Triantafilis

Below are the current projects on offer in Palaeo- & Earth Science. Supervisors don't always advertise specific projects, but will happily discuss options with prospective students. If there is a research area or supervisor you might like to pursue, email the relevant academics and ask! They love to talk science.

Honours Projects

Project Title: Impact of wave climate on a small ‘mystery’ beach, McKenzies Bay, Sydney

Supervisors: Professor Rob Brander


McKenzies Beach is a small ephemeral pocket beach in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs situated between Bondi and Tamarama Beaches. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s there’s for years, sometimes it can disappear for a decade. When the beach is there, it provides a valuable recreational amenity. So what conditions are associated with the formation of a beach at McKenzies and what conditions cause it to disappear?

This study will involve a range of techniques to determine when a beach has existed at McKenzies. This will involve analysis of historical aerial photographs and use of Google Earth imagery, but primarily it will involve some sleuthing – accessing archival information about the beach, talking to locals, and seeking out photographs of the beach.

The timing of when a beach exists at McKenzies and when it disappears can then be correlated with the long term wave climate statistics that are easily accessible from the Manly Hydraulics Laboratory. Recent studies have shown that beaches in the Sydney region can be influenced by ENSO cycles. Is this the case for McKenzies? What conditions make McKenzies appear and disappear?

Fieldwork will include a topographic survey of McKenzies using a Total Station and RTK-GPS backpack. Students should have, or be able to acquire, some familiarity with GIS software that will enable them to analyse imagery.


The primary aim of this project is to gain an understanding of the morphodynamic behavior of exposed pocket beaches to short and long-term fluctuations in wave climate. A secondary aim is the potential ability to predict optimal conditions for the existence of these types of beaches.

Benefits to Student:

You get to tackle that will be of interest to local coastal governments and coastal professionals throughout Australia. The experience of working with a real world problem is extremely valuable when it comes to getting future jobs in the coastal sector. So are the skills you will gain in data analysis, writing, science communication and presenting. You will also get to work within a team of post-graduate students who are studying similar topics that you can bounce ideas off of. I also strongly encourage my students to publish their honours work in an international journal, which will help enormously if you choose to apply for a scholarship to undertake post-graduate studies. I work closely with my honours students because I am always interested in their projects, so you will get plenty of guidance although I won’t spoon feed you! I have a very good track record of supervising students to first-class honours results.