La Trobe University – Sheffield Hallam University Global Security and Society Institute Joint PhD Scholarships


Per annum, for three and a half years. Fee relief additional.

Opening date

Closing date



Who is it for?

Future PhD candidates, Australian Citizen, International Student, Permanent Resident, New Zealand Citizen

Where is it available?

Melbourne Campus

How is it paid?

Fortnightly stipend


La Trobe University is offering graduate research scholarships for students to undertake a joint PhD with Sheffield Hallam University, UK in the newly established Global Security and Society Institute (GSSI). The GSSI will help societies tackle complex global security challenges, such as cybercrime and cyberterrorism, the growth of artificial intelligence, and modern slavery. Building on the strategic partnership between our two universities, researchers from both institutions will collaborate to bring together advanced technical expertise with humanitarian and social science perspectives, with a vision to develop more joint research and training in global security.

Applications for this scholarship are now open to Australian or New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents or international application newly enrolling in a PhD in 2024. The application deadline is 31 October 2023.

Students undertaking the joint PhD program will be enrolled in a PhD at both institutions. Your supervisory team will comprise of academic staff from both institutions who will provide support and guidance throughout your research. As a student enrolled at both La Trobe and Sheffield Hallam, you will have access to services and support provided by both institutions, including a range of professional and personal development programs.

You will begin your studies at La Trobe University where you will spend the majority of your time, but with an expectation that you will spend typically 12 months in the UK. Travel to and study at the host institution will be subject to the usual immigration requirements.

The joint PhD includes a tailored program of progress monitoring to fulfil the requirements of both institutions. All candidates will write and submit a thesis for defence by oral examination. On successful completion of the program requirements, you will be awarded a PhD jointly by both institutions.

The successful applicant can commence at any time between 1 February and 1 July 2024, at a La Trobe University campus, and willing to spend typically 12 months based in the UK.

Available projects

There are a number of joint PhD scholarship available to applicants from the range of projects listed below, competitively awarded and selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the selected project. Please contact the lead supervisor for more information about these projects.

GSS-23001 Movement control and adaptability during heavy load carriage

Lead Supervisor: Dr Kane Middleton

Other supervisors: Prof. Jonathan Wheat (SHU)

We are in a highly contested and volatile world that is likely to last decades. Therefore, we need a sustainable and deployable military workforce.

Military personnel are required to carry heavy loads over long distances. Research has shown that metabolic thresholds can distinguish between those who can and cannot complete a 2-hr pack march. This has substantial implications for the ability of military personnel to complete peacekeeping and humanitarian work that requires load-carriage activities, particularly given the move to urbanised missions and the effect of climate change on the environment in which they operate (e.g. additional physical stresses such as heat and humidity). A key contributor to the metabolic cost of walking has been shown to be a person’s control of their centre of mass. Our joint research group has shown that the variability of lower-body coordination during load carriage increases with the magnitude of load carried. We have postulated that the increased coordination variability seen at higher loads might serve to 1) provide compensatory variability to control centre-of-mass motion under more challenging constraints – increasing walking efficiency, 2) help avoid task failure by enhancing movement adaptability under the more severe movement constraints, or 3) serve to alter the magnitude, direction, and duration of forces acting on tissues internal to the body, reducing cumulative internal loads and reducing the risk of overuse injury.

This project will seek to develop a novel method to assess centre-of-mass control during load carriage and investigate the influence of load magnitude, load-carriage experience, and biological sex on centre-of-mass control. The effect of load carriage training/exposure on the control of centre-of-mass motion during load carriage will then be investigated.

Prospective candidates with a strong background in Biomechanics, Engineering, Bioengineering, Physics, or Mathematics are preferred.

GSS-23002 The changing nature of gender and warfare: Conflict-related sexual violence by semi-state armed groups

Lead Supervisor: Associate Professor Jasmine-Kim Westendorf

Other supervisors: Dr Maria Elander (LTU), Dr Matthew Hurley (SHU), Dr Mitxy Mabel Meneses Gutierrez (SHU)

This PhD explores the changing nature of gender and warfare/militarism by investigating the use of sexual violence by semi-sate actors in contemporary military conflict, and the capacity of existing legal/policy frameworks and accountability mechanisms to address the commission and consequences of such violence. Although there are well-established scholarly literatures and policy frameworks responding to the forms and functions of sexual violence in contemporary conflict and the challenges to pursuing accountability or reparations (both legal and otherwise) for it, the emergence of the Wagner Group presents a challenge, both conceptually and practically, to these scholarly, legal and policy efforts. Wagner Group differs markedly from other security actors: neither a state or a non-state/private actor, it is a semi-state military group active in Syria, several countries in Africa and more recently, Ukraine, as a vehicle of Russian state interests but also operating in ways that pursue independent wealth and influence generation for members of the group. It has been found to have engaged extensively in sexual violence as both a practice and strategy of war, against opponent militaries, civilians, and – at least in Ukraine - their own recruits. Moreover, Wagner’s role in a range of contemporary conflicts has intersected with increasingly coordinated mis/disinformation campaigns by Russia and aligned actors globally, many of which rely on specific constructions of gender and sexualities and further challenge the established strategies of dealing with and resolving such conflicts, and which have challenged the established strategies of dealing with and resolving such conflicts. This PhD will make a critical contribution to understanding the scale, form and effects of the Wagner Group’s use of sexual violence, engaging in a mix of open-source data collection and field research with relevant policymakers.

Applicants with a background in politics and international relations, gender studies, international law or cognate field are preferred.

GSS-23003 The work of critical infrastructure security and resilience

Lead Supervisor: Professor Lauren Rickards

Other supervisors: Prof. Will Eadson (SHU), Dr Todd Denham (LTU), Dr Rachel Macrorie (SHU)

The security of critical infrastructure is generally pursued in a way that side steps numerous important questions about infrastructure, including its everyday functioning. These dominant approaches are founded in techno- and material-centric perspectives that obscure infrastructure’s dependence on the human work of operation, maintenance and repair, both day-to-day and in response to severe disruptions.

This project examines the role of workers (at all levels of management) and related working arrangements and practices in critical infrastructure security. It is focused specifically on electricity infrastructure given: (1) electricity infrastructure’s sensitivity to climate change impacts and contribution to cascading climate change impacts, including known direct climatic impacts on electricity workers such as extreme heat; (2) the dependence of other sectors on the electricity sector; and (3) the way the electricity grid is being significantly reorganised as part of the decarbonisation transition.

This scholarship is a unique opportunity to be part of an international research programme and partnership between Australian and UK universities, with opportunity to spend an extended period of time in both countries as part of your study.

The aim of the project is to understand the role of workers in critical infrastructure resilience, their experiences of working in different infrastructural arenas notably during disruption events, risks they are exposed to in the face of climate change, and possible climate change adaptations. Project design will include two methodological and analytical axes: one through the electricity sector, one through disaster events involving a specific place-based blackout. Each will contribute to a comparative international study, centred on Yorkshire, UK and Victoria, Australia. The project will be strongly guided by industry stakeholders and research participants.

Applicants with the following knowledge and/or experience are strongly preferred:

  • Human Geography, Science and Technology Studies, or a related field
  • Qualitative research methods and analysis
  • Study of work, climate change, energy, infrastructure.

Benefits of the scholarship

  • a stipend for up to three and a half (3.5) years, with a value of $33,500 per annum (2023 rate)
  • a Research Training Program - Fees Offset scholarship covering tuition fees for up to four (4) years.
  • a travel allowance to assist with travel between Melbourne and Sheffield and personal expenses while resident in the UK
  • an allowance to relocate to Melbourne to commence the degree and publication/thesis allowance or RTP allowance
  • opportunities to work with outstanding researchers at La Trobe and Sheffield Hallam universities, and have access to our suite of professional development programs

Are you eligible to apply?

To be eligible to apply for this scholarship, applicants must:

  • meet the Doctor of Philosophy entry requirements
  • not be receiving another scholarship greater than 75 per cent of the stipend rate for the same purpose

In selecting successful applicants, we prioritise applications from candidates who:

  • will be enrolled full-time
  • have completed a Masters by Research or other significant body of research, such as an honours research thesis or lead authorship of a peer-reviewed publication, assessed at a La Trobe Masters by research standard of 75 or above

How to apply

Applicants should follow the following steps to apply to La Trobe University. Selected applicants will then be invited to subsequently apply for admission into the PhD program at Sheffield Hallam University.

  • review the scholarship eligibility requirements above
  • select a project from the list of available projects listed above
  • contact the nominated lead supervisor for your preferred project to obtain their in-principle agreement for you to apply
  • review and follow the steps in how to apply for candidature
  • when prompted during the application, select the 'Graduate Research - End-of-year Scholarship Round' and indicate the relevant project code as listed above (GSS-23---)
  • complete and submit your application for admission into La Trobe’s PhD program by 31 October 2023

Who to contact for further information

Project supervisor as listed above, for queries on how to apply