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 March 2024.

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 July and 30 November 2024, at a La Trobe University campus, and willing to spend typically 12 months based in the UK.

Available projects

There is a single joint PhD scholarship available in the mid-year round, competitively awarded with selection based on academic merit and suitability to the project. Please contact the lead supervisor for more information about this project.

Project: The Changing Nature of Gender and Warfare: Conflict-related Sexual Violence by Semi-state Armed Groups (GSS-24004)

Lead supervisor: Dr Jasmine 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 semi-state military actors such as the Wagner Group presents a challenge, both conceptually and practically, to these scholarly, legal and policy efforts. Wagner Group, for instance, 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 semi-state armed groups' use of sexual violence, engaging in a mix of open-source data collection and field research with relevant policymakers. The exact focus of the thesis will be determined in collaboration between supervisors and successful candidate, we welcome your ideas in your project proposal. Applicants with a background in politics and international relations, gender studies, international law or cognate field are preferred.

Benefits of the scholarship

  • a stipend for up to three and a half (3.5) years, with a value of $34,000 per annum (2024 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
  • 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 - Mid-year Scholarship Round' and indicate the relevant project code as listed above (GSS-24---)
  • complete and submit your application for admission into La Trobe’s PhD program by 31 March 2024

Who to contact for further information

Graduate Research School,