Higher degree research program

DPA PhD Candidates

The Department of Pacific Affairs boasts the largest 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.

The Department of Pacific Affairs offers supervision and training of the highest quality to equip higher degree research students for careers as independent thinkers and world-class researchers. We provide a supportive environment that encourages students to pursue rigorous and innovative research, to undertake in-country fieldwork, and to share ideas with other students, staff members and visiting fellows.

Entry into the higher degree research program offered by the Department of Pacific Affairs is highly competitive. The department welcomes applications from graduates with excellent academic records and with degrees in political science, anthropology, geography, law, development studies, gender studies or other relevant fields. Prospective students must be willing to conduct fieldwork-based research in at least one country in the Pacific Islands region. Interdisciplinary and comparative research perspectives are encouraged. Before applying, please look carefully at the profiles of DPA staff members and our research themes to ensure that the Department of Pacific Affairs is best suited to your study goals and research interests.

The program consists primarily of independent research by the student on a topic developed in consultation with the supervisory panel. In addition, there is a requirement to undertake relevant coursework, particularly in research methodologies. In order to complete the program and graduate, each student must produce a thesis incorporating the research conducted during the program.

Examples of DPA theses

‘Givim lo Aza’ (Give it to the mother): Oro women in the 2017 Papua New Guinea National Elections by Theresa Meki (PhD thesis)

Fragments of Youth: Young Men and the State in Honiara, Solomon Islands by Daniel Evans (PhD thesis)

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)

How to apply

For detailed information on the application process, please go to: https://www.anu.edu.au/study/apply/anu-postgraduate-research-domestic-an….


To contact the Department of Pacific Affairs regarding the higher degree research program, please email: dpa@anu.edu.au.

Updated:  2 December 2023/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team