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Northern Institute

PhD and Master by research

Aasish adhikari researching in West Kimberly. Photo taken by Rohan Fisher

Northern Institute (NI) is seeking interested students to join our researchers on their current projects. Learn with our knowledgeable teams, recognised for their innovative methodologies, commitment to co-design and research outcomes. 

Finding a project or supervisor

If you are interested in joining a project or have any questions, please email the lead supervisor below.

If you don’t see the exact project for you but are interested in a particular topic within a social research context, please get in touch with a supervising NI researcher with expertise in that topic:

Available Supervisors

Available projects with a scholarship

We have scholarships to support and assess social well-being and economic and systemic issues within the Northern Territory. We want to attract high-calibre applicants to meaningful projects of local relevance, all undertaken in collaboration with government or community partners.

CDU-NTG scholarships

Work in collaboration with an NT Government partner department on a project of local relevance. These projects include a 60-day internship (full-time or part-time) with the partner organisation during the degree. The scholarship stipend is provided to assist with general living costs:

  • AU$32,192 (2024 rate) per annum tax-free for full-time students, paid in fortnightly instalments.
  • AU$16,096 (2024 rate) per annum, taxable, for part-time students, paid in fortnightly instalments.

First Nations Australian Applicants: A First Nations top-up scholarship is available besides the above. This top-up stipend is $10,000 annually if enrolled full-time or $5,000 annually for part-time candidates, paid in fortnightly instalments. 

Find out more about this scholarship

CDU Domestic Excellence scholarships (CDUDES)

The aim of the CDU Outstanding Researcher Program is to attract high-performance HDR students to the Northern Territory for a unique and rewarding research career. 

The scholarship provides full-time students AU$40,000 (2023 rate) per annum for three years ($120,000) + Domestic RTP Fee offset.

Find out more about this scholarship.

Improving NGO worker retention in the NT human services sector

Supervisor: Andrew Taylor (contact).

About: This project explores the long-faced issues in attracting and retaining skilled workers, including in the human services sector, to the NT. With the increasing demand for services, growing complexity of population needs and more complex service provisions, recruiting and retaining skilled staff continues to be a significant challenge. The candidate will engage with government and industry sectors to undertake qualitative and quantitative research, which enhances the capacity of the sector to improve the retention of human services workers in the NGO sector in the Territory.

Indicators of social wellbeing in NT First Nations communities

Supervisor: Kim Humphery (contact)

About: The concept of social capital has, since the 1970s, been used to describe and measure the value of social connectedness. While social capital remains a useful term, it is conceptually limited and highly culturally bound. The candidate will investigate the cultural applicability of social capital concepts in assessing social outcomes in Aboriginal communities and as relevant to Aboriginal people.  This project explores if and how social capital in the context of the Northern Territory and whether mainstream concepts of social capital can meaningfully intersect with Aboriginal knowledges and socio-cultural understandings and be integrated within population-wide measures.

The impact of alcohol prohibition in NT Aboriginal communities

Supervisor: Kim Humphery (contact)

About: This project explores the recent history and impact of NTG government-enforced alcohol prohibitions enforced in ‘prescribed areas’ in the NT (enabled under various Federal and NT Acts), including all land held under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, all Community Living Areas and all town camps. No specific Commonwealth reviews or evaluations have so far offered clear findings of any harm reduction resulting from these interventions. In this research, the candidate will engage with government, community and industry sectors to undertake qualitative and quantitative research enhancing the understanding of unilaterally imposed blanket alcohol prohibition measures in Aboriginal communities.

Human Faces of the NT Public Housing Continuum 

Supervisor: Michaela Spencer (contact)

About: This project explores the human faces of the NT public housing continuum, beginning with the lived experiences of public housing tenants and the recently housed or homeless and working from there to develop system-wide policy insights. You will have the opportunity to conduct Ground Up research in several Aboriginal urban and remote communities and homelands and develop a novel and locally negotiated research approach under the guidance of local elders and community members. ​​

Top End Language Lab
Keeping Indigenous Languages Strong in Northern Australia​​​​

Supervisors: Steven Bird (contact), Bhanu Bhatia, Michaela Spencer, Michael Christie, James Bednall

Stipend: $40k pa + Domestic RTP Fee offset.

Location: CDU Casuarina Campus + 3-month internship at a Language Centre & remote research in NT Aboriginal communities.

Indigenous language researchers

About: This project is associated with an ARC Discovery Project, 'Investing in Aboriginal Languages,' which explores Aboriginal Language Centres as sites of cultural investment and exchange where Aboriginal language owners and users, researchers, and members of government and non-government agencies are participants. Diverse language and culture practices are at work in and around doing the business of Language Centres: work to fulfil obligations to kin and country that are at least partially invisible to outsiders, recognition of who are experts and the nature of different expertise, language documentation and preservation, work under contract, and more. There are diverse forms of accountability to differently situated participants, various forms of investment, and different values, agendas, aspirations, priorities and timelines. How do we understand, make visible and support healthy investments and generative exchanges? The PhD student will undertake field research in one or more Top End Language Centres as negotiated by supervisors, Indigenous Language workers and owners, and Language Centre management staff. Depending on the disciplinary background of the student, the project could involve ethnographic and/ or linguistic work with images and words in quantitative-qualitative multi- and transdisciplinary research. 

Apply: Send your EOI to Professor Steven Bird at or call 08 8946 6153 if you have any questions.

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