Scientia Scheme

UNSW Arts & Social Sciences is proudly positioned as one of Australia’s leading research Faculties in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Creative and Performing Arts with a commitment to generating research with real social impact and genuine community engagement. Our academics are leaders in their fields, creating new knowledge and new forms of understanding by combining time-tested traditions of scholarship with progressive new ways of thinking to tackle age-old questions, inform social change and enrich public debate.

We are committed to producing ground-breaking research and supporting the next generation of outstanding researchers across our various disciplines. The UNSW Scientia Scheme offers a unique opportunity to pursue work that has the potential to positively impact humanity and transform lives through cutting-edge research.

2020 PhD Scholarships Now Open

Applications for the 2020 PhD Scholarships round are now open. To apply for one of the current opportunities within the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, please visit the Scientia PhD Scholarships page. Applications close 12 July 2019.

Current research students within our Faculty

When you study with UNSW Arts & Social Sciences, you will be part of an exceptional community of scholars and higher degree research (HDR) students. For a better idea about the range of HDR research across the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, download our current list of HDR candidate projects (PDF) [695 Kb]. (PDF) [1000 Kb]

Other research opportunities

In addition to Scientia Scholarships, we have a number of opportunities for potential HDR candidates to work on existing research projects. For more details please see below.

Other HDR Opportunities

Theatre of the Real

Supervisors: Prof Michael Balfour, Dr Meg Mumford, Dr Caroline Wake

This project explores the politics of participation and representation in what Carol Martin has coined ‘theatre of the real’, an increasingly prominent form of performance internationally. Such theatre explicitly cites or summons the real world and its problems. It includes autobiographical, documentary and participatory practices. Often involving vulnerable or marginalised people, theatre of the real casts these participants as ‘everyday experts’ with valuable knowledge derived from their lived experience. This project investigates what happens when such experts meet theatre professionals and spectators. To this end it explores the complex politics and ethics that surround the process of empowering people through theatre.

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Multimodality, Social Semiotics and Contemporary Communication

Supervisor: A/Prof Louise Ravelli

Contemporary communication across all media embraces multimodality – the bringing together of different modes to create meaningful, coherent texts. Using social semiotic approaches to multimodality, a range of research trajectories are open in relation to linguistic, visual, auditory, and/or spatial modalities, and the role of multimodal texts in contemporary communication contexts. The aim is to enhance understanding of and communication outcomes in professional and public contexts, in terms of how meanings are made in such contexts, how meaning can be reshaped by and through use, and how contexts of practice and communicative texts mutually inform each other.

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The Sociomateriality of New workplaces: Multimodel Analysis and Organization Studies

Supervisor: A/Prof Louise Ravelli

'New' workplace designs are ubiquitous, foregrounding trends such as co-working, office-less organization, micropeneur-ship, minimal hierarchisation, and weaker borders between workplace, home, and leisure. Despite being of such interest, little research has investigated the sociomaterial nature of these designs and their implications for new meanings about 'work'. This project uses methods from social-semiotics, spatial discourse analysis, and organization theory, to investigate newly - designed corporate workplaces and the meanings they create about work, and for workers. This will make the connections between design, use, and meaning explicit, and will provide productive frameworks for future evaluations of workplace designs.

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Media and Social Justice

Supervisor: A/Prof Tanja Dreher

The project on Media and Social Justice investigates contemporary media and mediation through the lenses of social justice, the politics of listening, First Nations sovereignties, anti-racism, decolonising methodologies, data justice and feminist media studies. Media and Social Justice covers a diverse range of potential topics, including: First Nations media and voice; community and alternative media; media activism and media interventions; resurgent white supremacy, listening interventions, social justice in the age of datafication, community engaged research.

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The Psychological Power of Music

Supervisor: Prof Emery Schubert

Why does music have such powerful effects on listeners? The projects investigated in our music-based laboratory examine this question from a psychological perspective, applying experimental and statistical techniques to uncover the most basic and yet still hidden questions about music’s apparently magical qualities. Past postgraduates working on the psychological power of music projects have completed investigations in diverse topics, in particular: music and spirituality, emotional and aesthetic responses to music, music and preference, music and cognition, as well as music and health. Opportunities for publication, conference participation and international collaborations are provided. Prospective students will have considerable flexibility in the topic they choose, while being supported by excellent human and laboratory resources in the Empirical Musicology Laboratory at UNSW.

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Individual Difference in Music Performance

Supervisor: Prof Dorottya Fabian

Music performances are assessed regularly by teachers, examiners, competition judges, music critics. Some performers are internationally acclaimed. But while we can tell apart a good or competent performance from a mediocre one, or an excellent from a bad one, we have very limited language and analytical tools to identify specific and unique artistic signatures and explain the differences among highly regarded professional musicians. How does Lang Lang’s playing differ from Yundi Li’s? How do the interpretative tendencies of famous singers, violinists, pianists differ? Subjective but systematic aural analysis combined with empirical (computer-aided) investigations of sound recordings can provide insight into your favourite musicians’ individuality and how they compare to others. This type of study is most suited to European classical music performance but proposals involving other styles may also be considered.

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Sexuality and Identity Education: Students with Intellectual Disability And/or Autism in mainstream school

Supervisor: Prof Iva Strnadova

I am looking for a PhD candidate interested in conducting a PhD study on sexuality and sexual identity education of students with intellectual disability and/or autism, who attend mainstream schools (primary and/or high schools).

Students with intellectual disability and/or autism have a right for a quality sexuality and sexual identity education, with information provided in understandable and accessible way. However, research shows that people with these conditions receive less sexuality and sexual identity education than their typically developing peers. This lack of attention to the development of sexual knowledge in students with these conditions has likely increased the risk of harm (such as sexual abuse) for this population. As a result, they often have negative sexual identities. This PhD study would investigate how students with intellectual disability and/or autism are informed about sexual relationships, diverse sexual identities, and how they are prepared for their future life living with as much autonomy as possible, including living with a partner and becoming parents.

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Supporting Education Focused careers in research intensive Universities

Supervisor: Prof Stephen Marshall

There are a growing number of research-intensive universities throughout the world who have introduced education- or teaching-focused academic positions as an alternative to the research and teaching or research only appointments that such institutions have traditionally made. While the overall number of individuals appointed to such positions remains small, it is steadily growing, raising a number of critical career progression and development issues for the individuals themselves, their line-managers and their institutions. This study seeks to identify and explore these issues, with a view to determining: (a) how well current career development policies and practices within research intensive universities encourage, enable and support career progression along an education focused career pathway, and (b) how current HR policies and practices need to change to better enable and support education- or teaching-focused academic careers.

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Doctoral writing in Multilingual Contexts

Supervisor: Prof Sue Starfield

Globally, the number of students writing a doctoral thesis or dissertation in English continues to grow, raising many challenges for students, their supervisors and institutions. Thesis and dissertation writing varies according to context, although there are certain conventions and expectations which hold across disciplinary and geographical borders. I am keen to supervise projects that go beyond the text to examine texts within the contexts in which they are being produced, circulated, received and responded to. I am interested in how multilingual writers in diverse contexts across the globe negotiate their identities in their thesis writing, the kinds of relationships that support or hinder their writing and the ways in which their knowledge of the thesis genre develops over time. I am also interested in ways in which doctoral writing and the doctoral genre are evolving in response to the diversity of contexts in which these texts are being written, and the impact of new technologies on thesis and dissertation writing. Potential themes for candidates include: Building doctoral genre knowledge in multilingual contexts; Constructing and negotiating voice, identity, agency in doctoral writing in multilingual contexts; Mentoring relationships in doctoral writing; and the impact of new technologies on thesis and dissertation writing.

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School Reform in Regional, Rural and Remote Australia

Supervisor: A/Prof Scott Eacott

Across the world there is a socio-geographic performance gap between metropolitan and regional, rural and remote areas. This disparity gap has many varied influences. Traditional interventions for reducing the gap have tended to be designed from afar and rarely take into account the contexts in which they will be implemented. Theoretically informed by Eacott’s relational approach and drawing from many disciplines (e.g., education, geography, sociology, management/leadership, organizational studies, and social theory) this work seeks to build a robust empirical foundations for interventions aimed at improving outcomes in regional, rural and remote locations.

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Key research questions and directions of the Vitalities Lab

Supervisor: SHARP Prof Deborah Lupton

Key research questions addressed by the Vitalities Lab include:

  • What vitalities and capacities are generated with and through more-than-human worlds?
  • How are agencies opened up or closed off in more-than-human worlds?
  • Which individuals and social groups benefit most from these agencies – and who may be subject to risks or harms?
  • How can marginalised groups be given a voice and better agency?
  • What methods can be used to access people’s multisensory experiences and the affective forces that flow between the actors in more- than-human entanglements?
  • How do ethics and practices of care come into play?
  • What are the futures of more-than-human worlds?

Initial research streams include:

  • Critical digital health studies: addressing the ways in which people use digital technologies for health, and identifying potential harms or  exclusions from access as well as benefits
  • Living digital data: focusing on people’s everyday understandings, experiences and practices related to their personal digital data

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