PhD Scholarship in Documentary Media and the Australian Environment - Indigenous Identified Position

Updated: 4 months ago
Location: Melbourne, VICTORIA
Deadline: 15 Mar 2020

PhD Scholarship in Documentary Media and the Australian Environment - Indigenous Identified Position

Job no.: 599330

Faculty/Portfolio: Faculty of Arts, Film, Media, Communications and Journalism Graduate Research Program

Location: Caulfield campus, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Remuneration: The successful applicant will receive a Faculty of Arts Research Living Allowance. Current value: AU$27,872 per annum 2019 full-time rate, tax-free stipend (indexed plus allowances). This student will also receive $5,000 per year to support their study.

Duration: 3 years 3 months (full time), please see:

The Opportunity

As part of the successful Australian Research Council Discovery Project, ‘Remaking the Australian Environment Through Documentary Film and Television’ (2019-2021 DP190101178) Monash University Arts Graduate Research is funding a PhD scholarship on the topic of ‘Documentary Media and the Australian Environment’.

The ARC Discovery research project team comprises Associate Professor Belinda Smaill (Monash, project leader), Associate Professor Therese Davis (Monash) and Associate Professor Chris Healy (University of Melbourne). The position is housed in Monash’s School of Media Film and Journalism (MFJ) and the successful applicant will engage with and be supported by this interdisciplinary research team. The primary supervisor for the PhD research will be Therese Davis (MFJ) with associate supervision by Belinda Smaill (MFJ) and Lynette Russell, Deputy Director ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.

This specific position is Indigenous Identified and is open only to applicants of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage.

The project brings Indigenous perspectives and issues in representation of Indigenous Ecological Knowledges (IEK) and environmental issues into the studies areas of Australian Documentary Media and Cultural Studies.

This project aims to investigate how documentary film, television and online media have transformed our sense of the Australian environment since the 1950s. The research will produce the first deeply historicised account of how media has fashioned contemporary environmental consciousness. Expected outcomes include findings about audio-visual formats, environmental knowledge and social action; opportunities for collaborations between media producers, scientists and educators; and attention to the role of Indigenous knowledge practices in relation to the environment. The project will enhance understanding of the significance of environmental documentaries in shaping practical and imaginative responses to a world undergoing transformation.

The PhD student will investigate environment documentary media from 1970 to the present paying particular attention to environmental issues impacting Indigenous communities and lands and representations of Indigenous ecological knowledge. The precise details of the PhD research are flexible and responsive to the successful applicant’s expertise and interests, and will be confirmed through discussions between the successful applicant and the supervisors. 

Monash University is the largest university in Australia and regularly ranks in the top 100 universities worldwide. Monash has six globally networked campuses and international alliances in Europe and Asia. The applicant will be based at the Caulfield campus in Melbourne. Melbourne is frequently cited among the ‘Most Liveable Cities in the World”.

The School of Media Film and Journalism has developed a reputation for research that explores how changes in communication impact on the ways we live, work, interact and connect. The Film and Screen Studies program is one of the largest stand-alone, integrated teaching and research programs in Australia. It has a rating of 4 ‘above world standing’ in the 2018 Australian research ranking exercise and staff have been awarded multiple ARC Discovery and Linkage Grants, including several projects focusing on Indigenous screen media. The project will also derive support from colleagues in Monash Indigenous Studies Centre and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage. The Monash Film, Media, Communications and Journalism Graduate Research Program has an active postgraduate culture of workshops and seminars for research students and will provide outstanding student training opportunities for the PhD student on this project.

In addition to the scholarship, research candidates have access to Faculty funding for research trips spanning conferences and major events relevant to their own independent research, as well as other research-related expenses. This position also has an additional award of $5,000 per year to support the student’s study.

Please note: Applicants who already hold a PhD will not be considered.

Candidate Requirements

  • Strong interest in questions of media representation and Indigenous issues
  • A completed undergraduate degree with Honours H1 or equivalent
  • A completed Masters by Research degree or equivalent postgraduate qualification that includes a substantial research component written up as an academic thesis, awarded at or above distinction level or equivalent
  • This specific position is Indigenous Identified and is open only to applicants of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage

Undergraduate major or minor in one of more of the following disciplines:

  • Film Studies
  • Media and Cultural Studies
  • Indigenous Studies
  • Environmental Humanities
  • Environmental History
  • Science Communication

Topics of interest:

  • International representations of Indigenous Australian environmental issues in screen media
  • Indigenous environmental activism movements and the media (documentary, television, online)
  • Histories of documentary film and television’s representation of Indigenous environmental issues and/or IEK in Australia
  • Science communication and Australian environmental issues or IEK
  • Other related topic

Applicants will be considered provided they fulfil the criteria for PhD admission at Monash University. Details of eligibility requirements to undertake a PhD in the Faculty of Arts are available at

Candidates will be required to meet Monash admission requirements which include English-language proficiency skills. Scholarship holders must be enrolled full time and on campus.

Successful applicants will be expected to enrol by 31 March 2020. However, there may be some flexibility as to the date of commencement.


Enquiries concerning the research project and other academic matters should be directed in the first instance to Associate Professor Belinda Smaill by email:

Submit an Expression of Interest

It is expected that applicants will have been in discussion with Associate Professor Belinda Smaill and/or Associate Professor Therese Davis prior to submission of the EOI.

Applicants will need to submit an Expression of Interest to the Arts Graduate Research office via this link:

EOIs shall comprise:

  • A cover letter that includes a brief statement of the applicant’s suitability
  • A research proposal not exceeding 750 words in length
  • A curriculum vitae, including a list of any published works, conference presentations and relevant work experience
  • A full statement of academic record, supported by scanned copies of relevant certified documentation
  • Contact details of two academic referees

Once an EOI is submitted, applicant will be required to notify the office separately by sending an email to .

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed, over Skype if necessary. The interviews will be conducted in English.

Closing date:

Friday 15 March 2020, 11:55 pm AEDT


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