PhD Scholarship in Social Science (Geography) - Processes and Places: how urban experimentation accumulates to influence urban water sustainability transitions

Monash University

Melbourne VIC, Australia 🇦🇺

Job No.: 623093

Location: Clayton campus

Employment Type: Full-time

Duration: 3-year and 3-month fixed-term appointment

Remuneration: The successful applicant will receive a Research Living Allowance, at current value of $29,500AUD per annum 2021 full-time rate (tax-free stipend), indexed plus allowances as per RTP stipend scholarship conditions at: A tuition fee scholarship and Single Overseas Health Cover (OSHC) will be provided for a successful international awardee.

The Opportunity

This Monash University Arts funded PhD scholarship opportunity is an integral part of an ARC Discovery project – Tracing the impact of urban experimentation in water and energy domains – and will examine how place-specific conditions shape socio-technical urban water experimentation to deliver more resilient infrastructure. Under the supervision of Associate Professor Megan Farrelly (School of Social Sciences – Human Geography) and Professor Rob Raven (Monash Sustainable Development Institute), the successful applicant will join an energetic research team to undertake their own distinct PhD project while also contributing towards the overall research project by generating case studies for the experimentation database and relevant analytical insights.

The PhD project, while open to negotiation, will be expected to focus on Australian urban water practices to examine how these are framed, governed and contested and how the knowledge and insights generated from these practices influence urban water policy agendas. This PhD will be expected to work within the scholarly domains of sustainability transitions, urban geography, urban experimentation, policy and governance studies or similar. The successful applicant will also get to work alongside another PhD candidate who will be exploring similar scholarly themes, but within the field of energy experimentation (see advert here), as well as a research fellow (see project website). This PhD project, combined with the outcomes of the larger research project, described below, expects to positively impact the value and associated outcomes of government and private investment in innovative urban infrastructures dedicated to advancing sustainable and resilient urban environments.

The ARC Discovery project will investigate how the processes of experimenting with alternative urban infrastructure systems can lead to sustainable urban transformations. Australia is at the cusp of significant urban infrastructure transformation: with $200 billion set to be invested in revitalising key sectors including water and energy in the coming decade. At the same time there is a global and national push to delivering sustainable cities with flexible, resilient infrastructure. This demands new thinking, technologies, systems and governance practices. This package of research will establish a database of socio-technical experiments and undertake multiple case studies of innovative practices across the water and energy sectors to produce the first national evidence-base focused on best practices. Focusing on cross-sectoral insights from the urban water and energy sectors, this project expects to generate new knowledge regarding the transition dynamics associated with delivering sustainable urban futures. The anticipated outcomes of examining how innovations become mainstream include improved institutional strategies and enhanced policy and program interventions and this new knowledge will offer significant benefit to Australian infrastructure planning.

Undertaking this PhD as part of a larger project has several advantages.

First, the successful candidate will be integrated into an already successful research agenda that has been funded by the Australian Research Council, and will have access to funding to support fieldwork, transcription, travel, and conference attendance. Second, the candidate will benefit from expert supervision from research leaders in sustainability transitions, geography and governance and policy studies. Third, the candidate will benefit from collaborating with lead researchers and being part of the overall research outcomes, which may include co-authored publications (where the candidate’s contributions will be recognised through co-authorship), funded symposia, school-engagement exercises, and future grant applications. Finally, there will be multiple opportunities for the candidate to engage in shaping policy and practical outcomes with key external stakeholders.

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 Clayton campus in Melbourne. The School of Social Science at Monash is diverse and vibrant, including research expertise in geography, sustainability transitions, sociology and politics. We have a strong and supportive research culture, led by internationally recognised scholars successful in attracting national and international competitive funding. The School of Social Sciences also has strong ties to the Monash Sustainable Development Institute.

Candidate Requirements

The successful applicant will have an excellent academic track record in one or more of the following: geography, environmental sociology, innovation studies, governance and policy studies, or sustainability transitions. Competence in qualitative research methods is essential and quantitative skills are desirable.

In its assessment, the selection committee will prioritise applicants who hold an Australian (or equivalent international) Honour’s or Master’s degree (both in a relevant field), with a significant research component and with first-class honours/H1 awarded.

Details of eligibility requirements, including English-language proficiency skills, to undertake a PhD in the Faculty of Arts are available at Applicants should ensure they familiarise themselves with these requirements before deciding whether they should apply.

Scholarship holders must be enrolled full-time and on campus. Please note: applicants who already hold a PhD will not be considered.

Successful applicants will be expected to enrol as soon as possible after the offer is made. However, there may be some flexibility as to the date of commencement.


Associate Professor Megan Farrelly, School of Social Sciences at [email protected] or Professor Rob Raven, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, [email protected]

Submit an Expression of Interest

EOIs shall comprise:

  • A cover letter that includes a brief statement of the applicant’s suitability and interest in this PhD
  • A brief research proposal not exceeding 750 words in length that fits within the broad project aims and objectives, and demonstrates some understanding of the area of research
  • A detailed curriculum vitae, including a list of any published works, conference presentations and relevant work/research experience
  • A full statement of academic record, supported by scanned copies of relevant certified documentation
  • Contact details of two academic referees
  • Copy of your current passport (if available/applicable)

It is important that you contact Associate Professor Megan Farrelly, School of Social Sciences, [email protected] or Professor Rob Raven, MSDI, [email protected] prior to submission of the EOI to discuss the project.

EOIs must be sent in the form of a single attachment to an email addressed to Ms Kinda Say, Senior Graduate Research Administrator, Faculty of Arts, at the following email address [email protected]. In the email heading please state “EOI [your name] – PhD Scholarship in Social Science – Tracing the impact of Urban Experimentation” in the subject heading of the email.

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed (over Zoom if necessary). The interviews will be conducted in English.

Closing Date

Friday, 20th August 2021, 11:59pm (AEST)