Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

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Pursue a rewarding research career in arts, humanities and social sciences.

Research in the arts, humanities and social sciences encourages us to think creatively. It teaches us to ask questions about the world and society. It helps us to learn from the past. And it builds valuable knowledge that helps inform future decision making.

The University of Melbourne has taught subjects in the arts and humanities since its foundation in 1853. The Bachelor of Arts was the first degree offered by the University. And in 1947, the Faculty of Arts awarded the first Australian PhD. Today, the faculty is home to more than 10 000 students, including around 650 graduate researchers.

Throughout our history, the breadth of subject options has continued to expand. And we’re proud of the wide range of research projects on offer. We have more than 300 academic staff members, with expertise and experience in almost 40 disciplines, including:

  • anthropology
  • creative writing
  • criminology
  • history and philosophy
  • Indigenous studies
  • language studies
  • linguistics
  • literature
  • media studies, communication and journalism
  • social policy
  • sociology.

As a graduate researcher in the Faculty of Arts, you can build multidisciplinary knowledge and interact with researchers from other disciplines, through offerings such as the Creativity and Wellbeing initiative.

The Faculty of Arts also provides graduate researchers with:

  • access to a wide range of enrichment activities including lectures and seminars, three-minute thesis competitions and research leadership programs
  • opportunities to develop professional networks and employability skills
  • scholarships to support research travel and associated costs.

Learn how we’re making a difference

Current research projects are making an impact both in Australia and internationally. We are creating knowledge that deepens our understanding of what it means to be human. And this will lead to better, fairer and more sustainable societies. Here are some of the research projects that are making an impact:

Explore our research themes

Here are some examples of the faculty's broad research themes.  Through these themes, we show a sense of the scale and collaboration (in particular with industry and external partners) of research.

Under each theme are selected projects that fall within that research area.

History, culture, identity

Language, communication, diversity

Change, development, security

  • Global capital, local understandings – comparing how remote communities manage the arrival of multinational enterprises. What are the wider social and cultural consequences of a major resource extraction project?

Governance, resilience, sustainability

Partner with an overseas institution

Current funded Joint PhD opportunities

When you undertake a Joint PhD, you are supervised by academics from two institutions. As well as the University of Melbourne, you can partner with an international institution. This means your research will benefit from a truly global perspective. And you will enhance your prospects for an international research career.

We are currently offering the following fully funded Joint PhD opportunities within the theme of arts, humanities and social sciences:

Join a stimulating research community

Graduate researchers are supervised by leading academics. They encourage critical inquiry, creativity, and questioning of ideas and theories. They also bring substantial industry experience and expertise to teaching roles. And they ensure you remain up to date with the latest developments in their field.

Our faculty is home to five academic schools, each with its own research priorities:

The faculty hosts, or is involved with, more than 20 research centres, networks and groups, including :

As a graduate researcher, you’ll work in an innovative environment. Our facilities include the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the award-winning Arts West building, incorporating the Digital Studio.

Work with experts from other disciplines

Working with colleagues from other disciplines helps you reflect on the world in different ways. Depending on the topic, you might work with experts from areas like science or business and economics.

Research centres and networks

Many of our faculty schools and departments host research centres and networks. Many of these are interdisciplinary in nature. Examples include:

Hallmark Research Initiatives

These initiatives support priority areas of research at the University. Several current Hallmark Research Initiatives address the themes of arts, humanities or social sciences:

  • Creativity and Wellbeing – understanding how and why creativity relates to wellbeing, from infancy to old age.
  • Economic and Social Participation – investigating the factors that contribute to individual and community stability and wellbeing.
  • Future Food – working with CSIRO to understand future demand and supply of protein-rich foods.
  • Indigenous – improving the health, education and employment of Indigenous communities.
  • Indonesia Democracy – understanding governance, democracy and rising Muslim conservatism in Indonesia.
  • Statelessness – filling knowledge gaps to inform public policy.

Melbourne Interdisciplinary Research Institutes

The following institutes may be relevant for your area of research:

Multidisciplinary PhD Programs

PhD Programs enrich your core PhD studies. They create the opportunity to extend your networks beyond your own faculty. You will attend seminars and workshops with researchers from other relevant disciplines. As an arts, humanities or social sciences PhD candidate, you could explore the following programs:

Engage with industry partners

Many graduate researchers gain valuable industry experience with business, not-for-profit and government partners. Through our work integrated learning program, you can access internships, community volunteering and industry projects. These experiences allow you to use your expertise to solve key business questions. Partner organisations include:

Next steps

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