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Northern Institute

Postgraduate research opportunities

Research with us.
Jen Deger and Paul Wunungmurra

Discover our exciting postgraduate research opportunities and be a part of active, community-focused, First-Nations-led research. Learn from our knowledgeable teams, recognised for their innovative methodologies and research outcomes. 

Northern Institute researchers can support PhD, Master by Research, and honours students in various specialisations. 

If you're interested in a project, please get in touch with the supervisor(s) listed. If you've been unable to find a project you are interested in, you can use the researchers portal to see researchers from related fields or search for a supervisor.

Our projects are currently being updated.

Picture of researchers working on NT sea country
Indigenous-led management of Sea Country: Developing and implementing new models of protected area governance

Supervisors: Jackie Gould (contact:

Suitable for: PhD

Project Location: Darwin preferred but negotiable for the right applicant. Fieldwork will be required in northern NT and/or WA.

Project Summary
Traditional Owners (TOs) are increasingly finding ways of fulfilling their responsibilities to manage their land and sea Country, including through the formation of Indigenous ranger groups and the dedication of Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs). Whilst the contributions of TOs and Indigenous rangers to terrestrial conservation have been widely documented, their contributions to Sea Country (SC) management are often overlooked. In addition, many management collaborations involving Indigenous and non-Indigenous marine managers reflect unequal relationships in decision-making power and knowledge authority.

The ARC Linkage Project ‘Indigenous Led Sea Country Management’ is addressing critical knowledge gaps and supporting relationship-building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous marine and fisheries managers, in order to improve the visibility, equity and conservation outcomes of SC management in northern Australia. It seeks to do so by collaboratively designing strategies for planning, implementing and evaluating SC and fisheries management under the dual authority of TOs and government agencies.

We are looking for a PhD scholar to join our team of experienced researchers with deep connections to the participating Indigenous communities. They will have the opportunity to contribute to projects which have been prioritised by our Indigenous collaborators as well as government agencies, which recognise Indigenous knowledge practices and authority, and have existing funding.

We are offering a competitive stipend substantially above the normal rate for a researcher with existing expertise and experience in partnering with Indigenous communities in a relevant academic or industry sector (such as conservation planning, Indigenous land and sea management, protected area governance, fisheries management, anthropology, policy or similar). Ideally the candidate would be based in Darwin for fieldwork and team coordination purposes, and would commence in Semester 1 of 2023, although these are negotiable. Indigenous applicants are strongly encouraged to apply.

Applications will be open until 16th December, although prospective applicants should make contact with Dr. Gould as early as possible (and no later than 24th November) to discuss their research interests.

A hand drawing in the sand
Re-creating the map: Collaboration, co-design and alternative modes of mapping in North East Arnhem land

Supervisor: Professor Jennifer Deger (contact:, 

Suitable for: PhD

Project Location: Up to twelve months fieldwork based in Gapuwiyak and surrounding outstations and work at CDU campus in Darwin.   

Stipend: $29,863 p.a.

Project Summary

This project is associated with an ARC Discovery Project ‘Caring for Cosmologies: Making Living Maps for West Miyarrka’ which investigates the potential for novel digital mapping practices drawn from Yolngu epistemic traditions under Yolngu authority to empower future generations of Yolŋu leaders to speak with, and from, the authority and custodianship of country.

The successful candidate will document, analyse, and evaluate this new expression of Yolŋu site-specific politics and epistemology alongside Yolngu project leaders, with a particular focus on how these digital resources can be used to build new capacity for intercultural communication, collaboration, negotiation and decision making.

We are seeking applications from researchers with First Class honours in science and technology studies, anthropology, human geography, critical cartography, curatorial studies or the creative arts.

You would join an exciting Yolŋu and non-Indigenous research team internationally recognised for its innovative methodologies and research outcomes.

Applicants should contact Professor Jennifer Deger for more information and to discuss an application. Final applications due December 2nd.

NI image only_Manatee Dugong Sea Country
Mapping Knowledge of the Djelk Indigenous Protected Area to inform Indigenous-led management of Sea Country

Supervisors: Jackie Gould (contact:

Suitable for: PhD

Project Location: Darwin / Maningrida

Project Summary
Earlier this year, sea country (SC) was officially included within the Djelk Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), thirteen years after the terrestrial portions of the IPA were recognised by the Federal Government. A longstanding aspiration of the IPA’s SC Traditional Owners (TOs) and custodians has been to document the cultural landscape of their costal and marine estates. This project responds to those requests by collaborating with appropriate Indigenous knowledge authorities from across the Djelk Sea Country IPA to support them as they undertake this task. In doing so, multiple questions arise. What knowledge do TOs wish to record, in what forms, and for what purposes? These questions lead to others about knowledge authority and how this is exercised in the negotiation of relations within and beyond the region. By drawing on existing participatory mapping methodologies, but presenting these as a palette which TOs can pick up, alter or disregard as they self-author representations of their Country, this work seeks to:

  • understand the changing landscape of cultural transmission which knowledge authorities from the Djelk region are responding to
  • understand how representations of Country are being used to negotiate relationships within and across knowledge communities
  • provide practical resources that TOs can use to support their chosen life projects focused on coastal-marine people-places
  • innovatively respond to the challenge of developing decolonising mapping methodologies through a project which is fully co-designed and co-implemented with Indigenous knowledge authorities

Applications will be open until 4th November, although prospective applicants should make contact with Dr. Gould as early as possible to discuss their research interests.