PhD program

DPA PhD Candidates

The Department of Pacific Affairs boasts the largest and fastest growing Pacific-focused higher degree research training program anywhere in the world. The department offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Master of Philosophy (MPhil). The department has a vibrant community of researchers pursuing some of the most important long-term research questions relevant to Melanesia and the broader Pacific. Our higher degree research students are an integral part of the department’s research community. The department has more than 30 higher degree research students, most of whom are PhD candidates, including Pacific Island academics, Pacific development practitioners, former senior policymakers, senior Australian Defence Force personnel, and many more people from diverse backgrounds.

DPA attracts outstanding graduates to work for post-graduate research degrees. We offer supervision and training of the highest quality to equip scholars for careers as independent thinkers and world-class researchers. We provide a supportive environment that encourages students to pursue rigorous, innovative research, to undertake in-country fieldwork, and to share ideas with other students, staff and visiting fellows.

DPA welcomes applications for PhD study from graduates with excellent academic records and with degrees in political science, anthropology, geography, law, development studies, or gender-studies. Prospective students must be willing to conduct fieldwork-based research in a country in the region. Interdisciplinary and comparative research perspectives are encouraged. Before applying, please look carefully at the profiles of DPA members and our research clusters to ensure that DPA is best suited to your study goals.

The PhD program in DPA consists primarily of independent research by the candidate on a topic developed in consultation with her or his supervisor. Students may be required to do relevant coursework, particularly in research methodologies, depending on their research experience. The outcome of the PhD program is an original thesis incorporating the research conducted during the program and its results. The thesis must make a substantial contribution to knowledge in the chosen field and must relate the research undertaken to broader debates within the scholarly and disciplinary literature.

Examples of DPA theses:

Enemy friends: Silence and the limits of transitional justice at Melanesian boarding schools by David Oakeshott (PhD thesis)

Mobile phones and the promises of connectivity: Interrogating the role of information, communication technologies (ICTs) in marketisation by Asha Titus (MPhil thesis)

Health service delivery in Papua New Guinea and determinants influencing health outcomes: The case of women and health by Ellen Kulumbu (PhD thesis)

Following buai: The highlands betel nut trade, Papua New Guinea by Timothy Sharp (PhD thesis)

Negotiating displacement: A study of land and livelihoods in rural East Timor by Pyone Myat Phu (PhD thesis)

Sacred king and warrior chief: The role of the military in Fiji politics by Jone Baledrokadroka (PhD thesis)

Please visit Our People to learn more.

Information for prospective PhD scholars

A full-time PhD program takes a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years to complete. It is important to note that scholarships are usually available for three years. Students with scholarships are strongly encouraged, therefore, to complete their program within that time. Each research candidate at the Australian National University works under the direction of a supervisory panel intended to bring together expertise tailored to the specific needs of the topic. The supervisory panel consists of three to five academic staff members, one of whom will be the chair of the panel or chief supervisor. The chair of panel must be a member of DPA; other members of the panel may come from elsewhere in the University or occasionally from other institutions in Australia.

The progress of research students is closely monitored in accordance with University, College and School policies. Students will be required to complete various milestones during their candidature, including several presentations, to ensure that they are meeting progress expectations. Unsatisfactory progress may result in the removal of the student from the program.

Please consult the Higher Degree Research Guide.

To apply for admission as a PhD scholar with DPA, applicants should contact DPA with:

  1. A letter of application specifying intended timing, source of funding and an explanation of why you hope to study with DPA; Evidence of an outstanding academic and/or applied research record;
  2. A research proposal (1-2 pages) identifying the subject of the proposed research, the main questions the research seeks to answer, an outline of the proposed methodology, and an indicative timetable for completion within 3 years consistent with university requirements.
  3. In order to fulfil the requirements of ANU’s internal scholarship application process, prospective HDR (Higher Degree Research) must meet a number of deadlines which depend on if they are a domestic or an international applicant.

All applicants should include a section in their application detailing the viability of their project in the context of COVID restrictions. This section should either (a) explain how the project is not dependent on travel and/or fieldwork and therefore feasible regardless of restrictions in these domains; or (b) provide a 12-month plan outlining how the project will proceed if the current restrictions on fieldwork and travel continue. Applicants should discuss the viability of their research project under COVID restrictions with their proposed supervisors prior to submitting the application.

For International students: the applicant must send an initial expression of interest to the Department’s HDR Convenor as soon as possible, but not later than 31 May. An international applicant who wishes to be considered for an ANU scholarship will subsequently be required to submit a full application through the ANU Application Manager by 31 July at the latest. This time frame is designed so that we can help you finalise your application package before the scholarship committees meet. Applications that are submitted after 31 July but before 31 August will still be considered; however, such applications risk being incomplete at the time of consideration as they will not have benefitted from the abovementioned review process.

For domestic students: the applicant must send an initial expression of interest to the Department’s HDR Convenor as soon as possible, but no later than 31 July. A domestic applicant who wishes to be considered for an ANU scholarship will subsequently be required to submit a full application through the ANU Application Manager by 30 September at the latest. This time frame is designed so that we can help you finalise your application package before the scholarship committees meet. Applications that are submitted after 30 September but before 31 October will still be considered; however, such applications risk being incomplete at the time of consideration as they will not have benefitted from the abovementioned review process.

For non-ANU scholarships, prospective students must express their interest in the Department’s graduate research programs to the HDR Convenor at least two months in advance of the respective scholarship program deadlines (if formal acceptance to a university is a scholarship eligibility requirement).

Contact

To contact DPA regarding postgraduate studies please send us an email: dpa@anu.edu.au

Updated:  10 December 2022/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team