Swinburne Institute
for Social Research

Study opportunities

The Swinburne Institute for Social Research offers excellent supervision and hosts regular seminars and social activities for research students. We encourage you to participate in international networks and attend conferences as part of your studies. We are happy to discuss options for scholarships and funding.

Contact us
Associate Professor Ellie Rennie
Postgraduate Coordinator
E: erennie@swin.edu.au

Postgraduate student seminars

PhD topics

Digital society

Media and consumption cultures

Supervisor: Dr Aneta Podkalicka

Our research addresses issues of everyday practices, social and informal economies, re-distribution markets and 'collaborative consumption'. We are looking for a student to conduct a study of this social and economic trend. The student could explore 'thrift cultures and economies' across different contexts, for example:

  • web-based second-hand sites such as eBay or freecycle
  • traditional second-hand stores, including charities such as The Salvation Army stores in Melbourne
  • household or community environments.

Media and communications policy, business, law and history

Supervisor: Professor Jock Given

We are seeking postgraduate students interested in working on a number of projects related to contemporary communications law and policy. These include digital TV and radio, broadband and media ownership. We welcome students interested in international trade in media and communications services and the history of the multinational media enterprises.

Indigenous and community media

Supervisor: A/Professor Ellie Rennie

We are seeking postgraduate students interested in examining the histories, practices, policies and futures of community and Indigenous media. In particular, we are interested in projects that examine the challenges of media convergence for these sectors. We also welcome projects that seek to understand the social benefit of and institutional value of community and Indigenous media. Qualitative and quantitative research approaches will be considered.

Piracy, copyright and informal media

Supervisors: Professor Julian Thomas and Dr Ramon Lobato.

We welcome proposals from prospective students who are interested in conducting research around any of the following topics, or in related areas:

  • media piracy
  • pirate labour
  • streaming
  • file-sharing
  • social media distribution
  • theories and models of the informal economy (in relation to media)
  • case studies of particular networks and infrastructure
  • field-based studies of informal media workers, especially in Asia
  • comparative studies of media systems.

Global justice

Colonialism, settler colonialism and its legacies

Supervisor: Dr Lorenzo Veracini

 “Settler colonialism” and “settler society” have entered public discourse and have recently been the subject of extensive debate. Unlike other migrant groups, settler collectives are founders and shapers of political orders. A growing scholarly literature is now focusing on different aspects of this global phenomenon. This project will engage with this literature and contribute to this debate.

Historical justice, migration and memory

Supervisor: Professor Klaus Neumann

The following topics are available for PhD students:

  • What is the relationship between justice and remembrance or forgetting? How do we gain a better understanding of the 'drivers' of historical justice?
  • How do the life-histories and memories of immigrants feature in broader 'national' memories and histories?
  • How is the victimisation of groups remembered in democratic societies?
  • How do societies work towards historical justice?
  • How do communities actively negotiate the legacies of the past?
  • What characterises particular memorial cultures? How do collective and individual memories interact?

You should be interested in ethnographic research and ideally have a master degree in a relevant humanities or social sciences discipline such as history or anthropology. You need to be theoretically literate, curious, hard-working, interested in writing, an independent thinker and conversant in at least two languages.


Sustainable cities

Housing and affordability

Supervisors: Professor Terry BurkeA/Professor Kathleen Hulse and Dr Angela Spinney.

Australia is confronting a range of severe housing problems including affordability, homelessness, shortages of supply, indigenous issues and fitting new housing into existing cities. We are looking to initiate research projects on:

  • the causes of these housing problems and their impacts on specific socio-economic groups and the quality of urban life
  • the opportunities for, impediments to and implications of new forms of urban housing
  • the need, delivery and reform of the housing system both public and private. 

Both quantitative and qualitative research is appropriate for these broad topics but we are particularly interested in thinking about these topics from new directions and within new paradigms.

Sustainable urbanism

Supervisor: Professor Peter Newton

The sustainability challenge of the 21st century will be primarily won or lost in the cities - where over 70% of the world’s population will live by 2050 and where over 85% of global economic output will be centred. PhD research projects are being sought in a range of areas where interventions can best effect transformative change. These include:

  • Green industries: what is the genesis of a green economy? Does a basis exist in Australia? What sectors, industries, technologies, geographies are involved? What are the barriers?
  • Sustainable consumption: what are the drivers of contemporary consumption? What are the prospects for more sustainable patterns of living, working and leisure activity in Australia?
  • Sustainable cities: why do some human settlements exhibit smaller ecological footprints than others? How can we most effectively regenerate our cities in the 21st century?

You must have already achieved a first class honours degree or equivalent in a field relevant to the topics listed above. Postgraduate qualifications or work experience in a research environment would be highly regarded, as would competence in statistical analysis.