University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 Archive

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Research Areas

The University of Sydney introduced a new coursework requirement for Higher Degree by Research students commencing from Research Period 1 2021. Coursework is intended to give students the opportunity to take units of study that expand their existing skills or work toward developing novel capabilities that will complement their research and career development. Units of study students can choose to fulfil the Higher Degree by Research coursework requirement are listed in Table R of the Interdisciplinary Studies Handbook. Students can enrol in units of study in Sydney Student and plan professional and academic development activities with their supervisors in the Research Education Candidature System. Award requirements for each degree are outlined in the respective course resolutions.

For details of available units of study, please refer to Table R in the Interdisciplinary Studies Handbook.

Arts and Social Sciences research areas




American Studies

Dr Aaron Nyerges

The research area in American Studies provides a broad and multi-disciplinary platform for higher degree research, offering supervision in the areas of American literature, culture, economics, media, politics, foreign policy and history. Research that takes an interdisciplinary approach to the United States, or explores it from an international perspective, is encouraged. Students may connect their research to the postgraduate coursework units coordinated by the US Studies Centre.  Any prospective postgraduate student with a research interest that is in any way related to the United States should feel encouraged to apply.



Our researchers conduct field work from small-scale societies to large transnational networks, aiming to better understand the culture and society in which others live. Examples of the research currently undertaken by our anthropologists include: youth in contemporary China; Christianity in the Pacific; and climate change in Australian communities. For more information on the research covered by staff in our Anthropology department, please see here.

Arabic Language and Cultures

Dr Ali Aldahesh

The Department of Arabic Language and Cultures has a broad and multidisciplinary agenda of research about the Arab World, Islam and the Middle East. Comparative and transnational approaches, which situate the Arab world in relation to global history and engage with decolonial and indigenous epistemologies are strongly encouraged. The Department offers supervision in the areas of contemporary history of the Arab world and sub-Sahelian Africa, Islam and the Middle East (from the XIX century to the present), contemporary Arabic literature, Arab diasporas studies, Gender and Women's Studies in the Arab World and Islam, Linguistics, Pedagogy of Arabic Language, and Translation Studies, including Quranic translations.


Dr Patrick Paulkner

The research undertaken within the Department of Archaeology reflects the breadth and diversity of the human history, from earliest humans to the colonial and recent past. Exemplified thematically by time, space, place and transformation, our staff conduct research aimed at understanding past people and their behaviours through their technology and material culture, settlements and dietary structures, lifeways and symbolism. We also investigate the place of humans within the natural world, issues of resilience and fragility, and ultimately the way our research informs contemporary issues.

Art History

Prof. Mary Roberts

For those aiming to compete for specialist and academic posts in museums and universities, a research degree is becoming increasingly important. Research degrees require immense dedication and organisation, and a degree of enthusiasm and maturity of learning. The rewards of working on new material or bringing new approaches are great. The University offers breadth and depth of supervisory expertise in Art History and related fields that is unparalleled in Australia. The Department has a vibrant research culture that includes regular research seminars and the Power Institute's lively public programme of lectures, workshops and conferences.

Art History website:

Asian Studies

Prof. Adrian Vickers

Asian Studies is a cross-regional and interdisciplinary program encompassing the expertise from the Departments of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, and Indian Subcontinental Studies. Our research specialisations include: Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia; Chinese Buddhism and print culture; history and languages of Tibet; Indonesian history and art; labour and globalisation in the Asia-Pacific; maritime Southeast Asia; Japanese literature and popular culture; Japanese history; Korean history and culture; comparative media studies in Asia; Chinese literature and theatre; Chinese philosophy and political thought.


Chinese Studies

Prof. Yingjie Guo

The Chinese world has a long and multifaceted history with rich traditions of philosophy, literature, art and religion. With its dynamic economy and changing society, China also plays an increasingly important role in international affairs. Chinese Studies offers postgraduate research students the opportunity to develop geographically-focused expertise that can both include and transcend disciplinary approaches. Academic staff research specialisations include: political and social organisation of modern China; classical, modern and contemporary Chinese literature and theatre; Chinese media studies; history, religion and philosophy of early China; Chinese language education; Chinese sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and translation studies.


Classics and Ancient History


The department welcomes proposals for research in all aspects of Greek and Roman history, culture and literature from Homer to the end of Antiquity. Our department has wide research depth across Greek and Latin language, literature and history with particular strengths including Greek and Latin epic and lyric poetry, Greek and Latin drama, studies in Graeco-Roman reception, the history and culture of Greece in the archaic, classical and Hellenistic period, and the history and culture of Rome in the late republic and imperial period from the first to the fifth century CE.




Digital Cultures

Dr Jonathan Hutchinson

The Digital Cultures program invites expressions of interest for research projects in the MA Research. MPhil and PhD programs exploring themes in digital communication and culture. We can supervise projects on themes such as social media; new media arts; social robotics; computer games; interactive entertainment and cultural aspects of new technologies.

Digital Cultures website:


Dr Rebecca Edwards

A PhD in Economics offers the opportunity to study with our leading researchers. Our areas of expertise are broad, including microeconomics (game theory, mechanism design, organizational economics, decision theory and theoretical industrial organization), macroeconomics (monetary and fiscal policy, international trade and international macroeconomics),  behavioural and experimental economics, applied microeconomics/econometrics (labour, health, education, development, environmental and empirical industrial organization) and econometrics (theoretical econometrics, time-series, financial econometrics, inequality). Our school hosts a node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course and many of our academics are members of interdisciplinary research centres from across the University.



Dr Ilektra Spandagou

Research areas in education include: Indigenous education; comparative and international education; teaching English as a second language; educational policy and social justice; history of education; pedagogy, curriculum and teaching areas; teacher education and professional development; special education and inclusive education; arts and creativity; school and teacher leadership and management; learning, cognition and motivation; health and sport; learning technology innovations; design of virtual and physical learning spaces and the development of epistemic fluency; educational measurement and assessment; and STEM. The school’s education research covers areas from early childhood education, to higher education and lifelong learning in formal and informal settings.


Assoc. Prof. Sarah Gleeson-White

The department has a vital research culture and offers postgraduate supervision across an extensive range of areas. These include: Medieval and Early Modern Literature; Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Literature; Modern and Contemporary Literature; Australian and Aboriginal literature and culture; American literature and culture; British and Irish Literature; World Literatures; literary and cultural theories; studies in gender and sexuality; film and TV studies; scholarly editing and language studies; poetry, poetics, drama and the novel; rhetoric, aesthetics, hermeneutics and semantics; and creative writing. Research clusters, reading groups, cross-disciplinary ventures and collaborative research projects offer an unparalleled research environment for postgraduate students.

English website:

European Studies

Prof. Peter Morgan

European Studies is an interdisciplinary program focusing on Europe and the European Union. Our research is multi-faceted and wide-ranging, including the following areas: the European Union and contemporary European social, political and cultural issues (including European identity, migration policy and refugees, new political and social movements), intellectual, literary and cultural history of 19th and 20th-century Europe, including specialisations in German, French, Greek, Mediterranean, Balkan, and Eastern European thought and cultures, film studies and civilisational analysis. Disciplinary approaches include political science, philosophy, sociology, social and critical theory, and the intersections between society, politics, philosophy, science, and the arts.


Film Studies

Prof. Mary Roberts

The University of Sydney offers an exciting range of options for postgraduate work in Film Studies, from Doctoral and Masters research in film history, theory and criticism, including the possibility for creative practice-led research, to Masters (18 months full-time) and Diploma (12 months full-time) programs in film production. Our program alos offers a vibrant research culture through department seminars, gues presentations, and conferences and symposia. Please contact the Director of Film Studies for further information.

Film Studies website:

French and Francophone Studies

Dr Lea Vuong

French and Francophone Studies offers a range of research programs that encompass literature, cinema, visual art, theory, and language-based studies. Our academics specialise notably in 19th-century to 21st-century literature, visual cultures, including film, visual art and media studies, word-image interactions, intersection of genre and gender, autobiographical and women’s writing, postcolonial and trauma studies, translation, linguistics and digital humanities. 


Our department is a vibrant community of research staff and students. We hold regular seminars and events that engage with the French-speaking community at large and provide a platform for new and exciting research in French and Francophone Studies.


Gender and Cultural Studies

Dr Anthea Taylor

The Department of Gender and Cultural Studies offers expertise in a wide range of research areas, including gender and sexuality, cultural theory, popular culture, celebrity culture, environmental cultural studies, transnational feminisms, modernism, digital intimacies, race and representation, science technology studies, cultural policy, and many other areas. We have several large funded projects ongoing in the department. The Department is closely allied with the University’s Multidisciplinary Institutes such as the Sydney Environment Institute, the China Studies Centre, and the Charles Perkins Centre.


Germanic Studies

Dr Cat Moir

Germanic Studies is an interdisciplinary field focused on the languages, histories, and cultures of the German-speaking world. We offer research expertise in modern German and European thought; modern and contemporary Austrian, German, and Swiss literature, film, and theatre; and applied and educational linguistics and second language-learning didactics. We welcome applications both from graduates with interests in one of these areas, and those with an interdisciplinary focus. Themes where our research specialisations intersect include visual culture, memory and reception studies, and German language and culture in its transnational contexts. More information concerning the expertise of individual staff can be found on our personal web pages here.

Government and International Relations


This research area examines key world-wide issues, such as the implications of Brexit, climate change, and the global financial crisis. Academics within the department are internationally recognised as holding expertise in international relations; economic and foreign policy; environmentalism and human rights; comparative politics; and research into Australian elections. For more information on this area, please see the departmental website.

Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies

Assoc. Prof. Ian Young

The Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies is very research active and has a large number of research students, making it an exciting place to study in. The department offers two main areas of expertise:

1.      The Classical Period - the department has a broad range of expertise in Biblical Studies, specifically Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, including textual and historical-literary criticism, Dead Sea Scrolls, the Book of Daniel, and apocalyptic literature.


2.      The Modern Period - this includes Zionism and Modern Israel, the background to the Holocaust, its history and aftermath, Diaspora Studies, Australian Jewry, and Modern Hebrew language, including pedagogy.




The History Department gives you great flexibility to define your own area of original inquiry. We offer expert supervision on fields from medieval Spain to 20th century human rights and everything in between, with particular expertise in Australia and the British world, European, American and Chinese history. With our research strengths and styles spanning political, economic, social and cultural history, we encourage you to explore topics of any scale, from micro-historical studies of people or places to the transmission of ideas across the globe.


Indian Subcontinental Studies

Dr Mark Allon

Our research areas include:

  • The religious traditions of South Asia
  • Indian religion as manifest in other parts of Asia, particularly Buddhism in Central Asian, East Asia, and Southeast Asia
  • Method in the study of Indian and Buddhist thought
  • Early Buddhist literature, particularly the 'mainstream' schools as preserved in Pali, Gandhari, Prakrit, Buddhist Sanskrit and Chinese
  • Recent discoveries of Buddhist manuscripts from Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia, with a special interest in ancient Gandhara
  • Buddhist Sanskrit and the Middle Indo-Aryan languages, particularly Pali and Gandhari

Indigenous Studies

Dr Lynette Riley

For further information on this research area please see here.

Indonesian Studies

Dr Novi Djenar

Indonesian Studies at Sydney is the oldest university department in Australia to specialise in the study of Indonesian language and society. We offer postgraduate study in Southeast Asian Studies, drawing on our academic expertise in the fields of Indonesian politics, history, art history, social movement, literature and linguistics, and through collaboration with academics within the University whose expertise complements the department’s research strengths. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the department to discuss their proposed project and establish availability of supervision.

International Comparative Literature and Translation

Dr Sonia Wilson

International Comparative Literature and Translation is a vibrant interdisciplinary and intercultural program, focused on world literature and visual cultures. It offers research expertise in translation and transcultural studies and in a wide range of literary, performance and cinematic traditions, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Jewish and Latin American. Academic staff research specialisations include comparative poetics; literature, history and memory; the politics of literature; translation theory; empirical translation studies; gender and feminist thought; migration and diaspora studies; travel literature; literature and cinema; graphic narrative and life writing. 

Italian Studies

Dr Antonia Rubino

The Department of Italian Studies is a vibrant research centre that offers students the opportunity to develop expertise in a wide range of areas relevant to the cultures, histories and languages of the Italian-speaking world. Our strengths in research include the following: Medieval and Renaissance studies; Intellectual history; Critical, literary and visual theory; Modern Italian literature and culture; Italian theatre; Migrant and travel studies; Sociolinguistics and applied linguistics; Translation studies. Our staff maintain strong interdisciplinary links with several research clusters across the humanities as well as the social science disciplines of education and politics. The Department holds regular seminars and postgraduate events in order to engage students and promote and disseminate research.

Japanese Studies

Dr Nerida Jarkey

Founded in 1917, the Japanese Studies department at the University of Sydney is one of the oldest Asian language and culture centres in Australia. Our strengths in research include: Japanese intellectual history and political philosophy; Japan-Korea relations; Chinese diasporas in Australia and Japan; pre-modern, modern, and contemporary Japanese literature and literary arts (including Rakugo); comparative literature, literary theory, and translation studies; Japanese cinema, mass culture, popular and media culture; Japanese and East Asian media and media adaptation; Japanese linguistics and sociolinguistics; socio-cultural aspects of contemporary Japanese society, and cross-cultural representations.

Korean Studies

Assoc. Prof. Ki-Sung Kwak

The Department is able to supervise MA (research), MPhil and PhD degrees by research and thesis in a wide range of Korea-related subjects: Korean culture and society, Korean history, media and communication, language and linguistics, literature and civilisation, digital humanities. Research interests of staff members include: Korean history and culture, Korean War, gender studies, East Asia/West relations, colonialism and empire, Cold War, mass media in Korea, new media policy and regulation, comparative media, online media and political communication, Korean linguistics (phonology, morphology, syntax and sociolinguistics), teaching/learning KFL, popular culture, Korean literature, digital humanities, Korean diasporas.


Dr Lila San Roque

The Department of Linguistics is a diverse and research-active department with research interests that are international, interdisciplinary, and wide-ranging, covering everything from cross-cultural communication to social functions of language to technical aspects of grammar, from relations between language and mind to the role of language in media and education. Departmental staff are involved in major research projects, tackling subjects as diverse as anthropological linguistics, field linguistics in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, language use in television series, news discourse, language and evaluation, genre relations, literacy, semantics, multimodality, classroom discourse, youth justice conferencing, and World Englishes.

Linguistics website:

Media and Communications

Dr Jonathan Hutchinson

Our highly qualified staff, many with years of industry experience, actively contributes to scholarly and public debates about the characteristics and dynamics of Australia’s pluralist media system, including media politics, business, professional practice and policy.

Supervision opportunities available include communication technologies, media relations, journalism studies, public broadcasting, media policy and regulation, health communication, literary journalism, political communication, strategic corporate communication, media history, media education, media and youth culture, disability and the media, media and social change, PR/advertising, magazine studies, philosophy of communications, and cultural politics. For more details of the specific research interests of MECO academics, go to the staff webpages on the department website.

Media and Communications website:

Medieval Studies

Dr John Gagne

The Medieval and Early Modern Centre offers an exciting interdisciplinary program of research degrees at postgraduate research level. Degrees offered include Master of Arts (Research), Master of Philosophy (MPhil), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

The Medieval and Early Modern Centre draws on supervisory expertise across the University in the areas of Arabic, Art History, Byzantine Studies, Celtic Studies, English (including Old English and Middle English), History, History of Science, Islamic Studies, Italian Studies, Jewish Studies, Medieval Latin, Medieval Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies.

Medieval and Early Modern Centre website:

Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies

Prof. Vrasidas Karalis

Postgraduate studies in Modern Greek prepares you to actively engage in the complex and culturally diverse contemporary world. It offers you the opportunity to utilise linguistic and methodological skills acquired in your previous studies to extend your knowledge on institutions, practices and ideas that permeate Greek language, history and culture in the local and global context. You can formulate and research your own project under the supervision of a specialist in a number of areas including: Byzantine and Modern Greek literature, history and politics, European and Greek cinema, Greek and European Modernity and diasporic and migrant studies.

Peace and Conflict Studies


This research area examines the causes of conflict and the conditions that affect conflict resolution and peace. Research topics have included non-violent policing, disarmament, and justice and reconciliation in Rwanda, Cambodia and East Timor. Currently, the department are researching peace journalism which challenges popular media representations of conflict; and how communities pursue justice and reconciliation after mass violence. For more information, please visit the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies webpage.



The Department of Philosophy offers Australia’s most comprehensive teaching and research program in Philosophy. The department is internationally recognised for research in the history of philosophy, German philosophy, naturalism and contemporary metaphysics, decision theory, philosophy of science (especially causation and time), philosophy of mind and moral, social and political philosophy, philosophy of ecology, biology and the environment. Recently, the department's postgraduate program was ranked in the top 40 philosophy graduate programs in the English-speaking world and in the top 2 in Australasia.

Political Economy


Political economy provides critical analysis of contemporary problems and policies, researching areas such as gender, race, neoliberalism, public policy, human rights and finance. Research by our political economists include investigating feminist and institutionalist economics; international political economy; and development and labour studies. Please see here for further information.


Spanish and Latin American Studies

Dr Ruben Perez-Hidalgo

Our research crosses disciplinary boundaries into areas that include sociology, anthropology, linguistics, language pedagogy, and addresses issues relating to nationalism, identity, gender, politics, ethnicity, social movements, and migration among others. Our research areas include:

  • Critical discourse analysis of media and law
  • Gender and sexuality in contemporary Latin American contexts
  • Political symbols in Spain and Latin America
  • Sociology of political cultures in Mexico
  • Ethnicity, race and identity politics in Latin America
  • Fiction of Spain and its functions
  • War, memory and trauma in Spain’s narrative
  • Second language acquisition pedagogy
  • Migration studies
  • Spanish and Latin American literature and film
  • Applied linguistics, language variation, language and identity, language ideologies, FL/L2 Spanish language pedagogy
  • Emotions and humour in language learning

Social Work


Research areas in social work and social policy include: Children and young people: safety and wellbeing; welfare and community services; knowledge building in social work practice and education; social change; social policy; social work in health care; third sector research; violence against women and children; intergenerational perspectives and ageing; working with communities; critical mental health; disability and reproductive justice; and child and family: permanency planning; disaster work; social work for environmental change; critical perspectives on management and leadership in social work, human and community services, working across difference and working with Aboriginal people and communities. 


Sociology and Social Policy


The department’s research focus is grouped into 5 clusters: the paradoxes of authenticity which explores personal freedom, social imaginaries and global modernity; the power of knowledge and different theories of learning; death and trauma arising from physical and structural violence; justice amongst posthuman societies; and the inequality that has arisen from asset-based capitalism. For further information on the research conducted in this department, please visit the webpage.


Studies in Religion

Prof. Iain Gardner

Our researchers are regularly involved in major government-funded collaborative research projects and take leading roles in international research networks. We bring new insights to traditional areas of study including early Christian literature, ritual studies and the study of late antiquity. We also investigate many other areas including esotericism and new religions, politics and the secular state, and the fields of art, creativity and media. The Department is home to a broad range of postgraduate students with a great variety of interests and research projects.

Studies in Religion website:

Sydney College of the Arts

Dr Julie Rrap

Conceptual thinking in the context of making are central to SCA's thriving research culture. Artists with distinguished practices across a range of visual art disciplines contribute to a dynamic environment, that reflects, and actively shapes, the increasingly trans-disciplinary nature of contemporary art.

Our unique approach to practice-led research is delivered through SCA's world-class facilities and the academic fields of the wider university. This facilitates engagement with diverse fields of inquiry, with creative and scholarly works exhibited and published in venues, journals, monographs and media outlets of national and international repute.

Sydney College of the Arts website:

Theatre and Performance Studies

Dr Paul Dwyer

Theatre and Performance Studies encompasses all forms of aesthetic, social and everyday performance, from theatre, dance or ‘live art’ practices through to the performative dimensions of law, politics and sport. Our department is a renowned centre of research excellence, particularly for the interdisciplinary range of our work and for innovative applications of ethnography and creative research methods.

For postgraduates, we offer expert supervision from academic staff, a weekly research seminar at which students receive constructive feedback on work-in-progress, an archive of performance documentation and technical advice for any research that involves fieldwork, documentation and/or professional performance practice.
Departmental website: