Call for joint PhD projects 2023 Melbourne Birmingham Priestley Scholars

The University of Melbourne (UoM) and the University of Birmingham signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016, renewed in 2020, to foster exchange and research collaborations.

The partnership resulted in 35 scholarships being awarded with 11 completions, with projects spanning engineering and IT, linguistics and psychological sciences.

In 2023, UoM and UoB are calling for proposals across all research areas for new joint PhD projects. This call for proposals will award up to four joint PhD projects across two separate pairs of Primary Investigators (PIs). Each of these pairs will receive funding to support two joint PhD candidates, as well as funding to support collaborative activities.

Purpose of the scheme

The Priestley Scholars program trains a core group of researchers who benefit from a collaborative international research experience. The joint PhD candidates are enrolled at both institutions, perform their research work under joint supervision, and are graded according to the academic standards of both institutions. At the end of the program, each candidate will be eligible to receive a PhD, recognised by two testamurs, one from UoM and one from UoB. Both testamurs state the joint nature of the award and name of the partner institution.

The four joint PhD candidates recruited to the projects awarded funding will form the 8th cohort of the Priestley Scholars program, gaining:

  • Access to expertise, resources and world-class training at UoM and HUJI by spending at least 12 months of their candidature at each institution;
  • Complementary skills from their respective hosts that will increase the impact of their research; and
  • A global perspective on their research via their involvement in the UoM-HUJI network.

All recruited candidates must meet the minimum eligibility requirements to successfully enrol in the relevant PhD course at both institutions.

Eligibility criteria

The supervisory team must consist of at least two Principal Investigators (PIs), one from UoM and one from UoB. The two PIs must have capacity to be the primary supervisor for two jointly enrolled PhD candidates, one who will have UoM as their Home institution, and the second who will have UoB as their Home institution.

UoM Academics

UoM academics must be registered to supervise as per the Supervisor Eligibility and Registration Policy. Primary supervisors should be employed at UoM beyond the envisaged submission date of their PhD candidates (2027). If their employment contract does not extend beyond the candidates’ submission date, then alternative arrangements must be in place, by either having:

  1. A named co-supervisor employed at UoM beyond the envisaged submission date of their PhD candidates (2027); or
  1. A letter of support from the respective Head of Department/Head of School detailing the arrangements in place to ensure continuity of supervision.

For more information, please consult the information for supervisors section on the Graduate Research Hub.

Honorary employees whose primary academic affiliation is with UoM are eligible to lead an application as a PI if they are a registered Principal Supervisor at UoM, and either:

  1. Their primary employer has entered into a written agreement for this call to fund the Melbourne lump sum of the collaborative activity ($10,000 AUD); or
  1. They participate at their own expense if they are otherwise unaffiliated (for example, they hold an emeritus position).
UoB Academics

UoB academics must be eligible to supervise PhD candidates as per the relevant UoB regulations for research students.

Additional notes for all applicants

Applicants who have previously received funding are eligible and encouraged to apply.

Additional colleagues (including other partners in Australia, UK or internationally) are not eligible to apply as PIs or primary supervisors, although they can participate in the co- supervision of joint PhD candidates.

Adherence to respective equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies are a core feature of this program to ensure that all participants can do their best work, thrive and succeed. Applicant teams should consider how they can take meaningful steps in their future collaborations to foster an environment that values, supports and respects a diverse range of views, knowledge and experiences. Applicants should consider EDI as it applies to gender, Indigenous peoples, disabilities, career stages and sectors.

Applications that do not satisfy these criteria will not be eligible.

Funding and program overview

Up to two proposals will be funded, with each proposal supporting two joint PhD projects. In total, up to four PhD scholarships will be awarded across two pairs of PIs. UoM will fund up to two PhD scholarships and UoB will fund up to two PhD scholarships. Funding also includes support for additional collaborative activities, including supervisor and home candidate travel.

One of the recruited joint PhD candidates will have UoM as their Home institution and one will have UoB as their Home institution. The Home institution is where the candidate conducts most of their research, where they receive their scholarship from, and where they are likely to commence and conclude their degree. Each PhD scholarship will be awarded to the recruited Home candidate at their Home institution’s standard living allowance (stipend) rate.

  • For UoM PIs: Scholarships will be funded according to the conditions of the participating Faculty for this scheme.
  • For UoB PIs: All scholarships will be funded according to the conditions of the participating Faculty for this scheme.

The initial duration of the scholarship is 3 years, with the joint PhD candidate able to apply for an extension for a total scholarship duration of 3.5 years. The maximum course duration for the joint candidate to complete the project is 4 years.

Each candidate must spend at least 12 months at each institution during their candidature. The time spent at UoB and UoM can be determined depending on the needs of the project, so long as the candidate spends at least 12 months at each institution and the project is designed to be completed within 3 years.

Please refer to the table below for a summary of the funding provided for each proposal, supporting two joint PhD candidates and additional collaborative activities.

University of Melbourne (UOM)

University of Birmingham (UoB)

Tax-free scholarship (stipend) for the Melbourne based joint PhD candidate. Please refer to the Graduate Research Scholarship page for the full details.

Scholarships for the Birmingham-based joint PhD candidate will be funded jointly by the University of Birmingham (50%) and the Supervisor (50%).

Tuition fee waivers for both joint PhD candidates.

Tuition fee waivers for both joint PhD candidates.

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) Single Membership for international candidates who require a student visa to study in Australia, when in Australia, and travel insurance whilst on Study Away.

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of research in Australia will be covered, as well as health insurance for international candidates who have UoB as their home institution.

A $5,000 lump sum* to support Melbourne based candidates and UoM PIs for relevant activities, including**:

  • Candidate travel
  • PI travel
  • Workshop costs or virtual collaboration expenses
  • Graduate recruitment

Support for each UoB PI for relevant activities, including mobility support for the UoB-based candidate to travel:

  • PhD Candidate travel
  • PI travel
  • Workshop costs or virtual collaboration expenses
  • Graduate recruitment

*The lump sum provided by UoM is pooled and allocated to the Academic Lead of the joint PhD program. The Academic Lead is responsible for distributing the funds to the PIs and Melbourne based candidates for the uses described.

**Please note that ineligible costs include: directly incurred staff (e.g. Research Assistants), replacement research/teaching costs, directly allocated costs including applicants’ time, indirect costs/estates costs, publication costs, equipment, consumable costs, scholarships, conference attendance, tuition fees and honoraria. UoM and UoB reserve the right to determine the eligibility of expenses.

Evaluation of project proposals

UoM and UoB will rank the proposals against selection criteria and select up to three proposals (equivalent to six joint PhD projects) for funding.

The selection criteria are as follows:

  • Project design and rationale: How clearly presented and justified is the basis for, and design of, the joint PhD project? What are the anticipated benefits of involving joint PhD researchers in the collaboration? What is the benefit of the candidate spending a minimum of 12 months at each institution?
  • Potential impact: What is the level of originality and innovation in the research proposal? To what extent does the research proposal plan to address significant challenges and what is the anticipated benefit to local or international communities?
  • Collaborator complementarity: What is the evidence of an existing research relationship or added value of a new collaboration? How does the collaboration combine mutual areas of interest and strength?
  • Quality of supervision: How will the PIs work together effectively in jointly supervising their shared PhD candidates? What are the beneficial learning outcomes and experiences for the joint PhD candidates? Have the PIs accounted for any challenges that may arise when supervising a joint PhD candidate?
  • Capacity for expanded collaboration: What is the extent of the planned collaboration between the PIs beyond joint supervision? How well does the proposal plan to leverage external funding? To what extent are future collaborations made possible as a result of the proposed activities? How could this project seed the development of a larger network of researchers?

Project proposal guidelines

Before preparing a proposal, please note the following:

  • PIs should ensure that they have capacity to take on two joint PhD candidates in line with their institution’s policies and meet the eligibility requirements of the scheme.
  • Each pair of PIs should submit one proposal that outlines two joint PhD projects, intended for two joint PhD candidates. The projects can be on a similar research topic or theme, but the candidates should not need to rely on each other’s expected results or completed thesis work to progress in their candidature.
  • The joint PhD projects should be designed to be completed within three years, with a maximum duration of four years. The candidate is eligible to receive a scholarship up to 3.5 years, with a request for a scholarship extension to be submitted by the candidate at the 3-year milestone if required. At least 12 months should be spent at each institution (i.e. at least 12 months at UoM and 12 months at UoB).
  • Supervisors who already have a suitable future candidate in mind are encouraged to submit a proposal. The candidate will be able to apply and, if eligible, commence prior to the end of the year.

The application form requires:

  • Information about the UoM and UoB PIs, including a short CV and, if applicable, a summary of previous collaboration.
  • Nomination of the co-supervisors, if applicable.
  • A summary of the UoM home and UoB home projects, including:
    • An abstract, to be used for candidate recruitment if the proposal is successful.
    • A project timeline, outlining the proposed periods of research at Melbourne and Birmingham.
  • A response to the selection criteria.
  • Endorsements from:
    • UoM: Head of School/Department and the Faculty Associate Dean (Graduate Research).
    • UOB: Head of School/Department.

Key dates, submission and contacts

PIs must successfully recruit two joint PhD candidates by 31 December 2023 for commencement no later than first semester 2024, If the PIs do not meet this recruitment deadline, the scholarship and mobility funding will be recalled for use in a future call.

A single, jointly prepared proposal must be submitted via to jointphd- by 15 June 2023

The following endorsements must be attached for the application to be considered:

* The UoM PI’s Head of School/Department and the Faculty’s Associate Dean (Graduate Research). This can be provided in the form of a letter or email that endorses the PI’s proposal.

* The UoB PI’s Head of School Department.

UoB contact: Kate Sterne (

UoM contact:  IRTG Coordinators (

Application form

Download the application form >

First published on 3 May 2023.

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