MLS Doctoral Scholarship

Digital Technologies and Protecting Privacy

MLS is Australia’s first all-graduate Law Faculty. MLS was the first faculty in Australia to teach law, and awarded this country’s first law degrees. The Law School is now fully graduate with its Juris Doctor for admission to practice recognised as a high level qualification in Australia and beyond. Coupled with the unrivalled excellence of Melbourne Law Masters and its excellent Graduate Research Degree programs, the Law School offers a unique opportunity for the integration of scholarship and teaching.

Applications are invited from suitably qualified scholars for a PhD scholarship and to join Professor Jane Kaye’s team in Melbourne Law School (MLS), which specialises in understanding the legal and regulatory issues associated with the introduction of new technologies in health. Successful candidates must commence the scholarship in the 2019 calendar year.

Research aim

This legal research aims to analyse the information law such as data protection regulation, the regulation of ‘m-health’ and other measurement devices and services, common law duties of confidence and privacy and other relevant law for the collection, analysis and linkage of data. The aim is to identify and evaluate the legal obligations at both federal and state levels that must be met in the linkage of varied sources of personal data for health purposes using digital technologies.


Innovations in digital technologies are transforming the way healthcare is conducted, enabling global research networks, new forms of translational research and unprecedented large-scale data collection and analysis. Simultaneously the cyberspace revolution allows individuals to accrue huge datasets of information on everyday life from apps, social media, and other electronic platforms that could be relevant to healthcare. If combined with existing research and clinical data, these ‘digital phenotypes’ could significantly enhance our understanding of individual and public health. However, enabling this would require data to be used beyond the context for which is was originally collected and challenges many of the legal frameworks that currently exist and social expectations about privacy. Given continuous advances in re-identification powers, this will test the legal line between identifiable data that defines the scope of privacy rights and data that fall outside of this regime.

This research will evaluate the legal basis for linkage of personal data for research under federal and state laws and the respective positions for data processing for research and data collected by commercial services (e.g. fitness apps). It will make recommendations for clinicians and researchers on meeting legal obligations as well as considering the overall state of the law in this area and any recommendations for reform.  In particular, it will focus on consent requirements and the ways that new technologies might be used to enable people to exercise their privacy rights.


Conventional legal research techniques will be used to identify and analyse relevant legislation and regulations, case law and other legal authorities.

Doctoral Scholarship

This scholarship enjoys the same benefits as a Melbourne Graduate Research Scholarship.

Terms and conditions can be found here.


To be eligible for the scholarship, the recipient must:

  • be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or Australian permanent resident undertaking a PhD (or joint PhD) at the University of Melbourne.
  • have completed tertiary studies that are at least equivalent to a 4-year honours degree at an Australian university with a minimum result equivalent to a first class Honours (80%).
  • have not completed a PhD or held a graduate research scholarship previously.
  • commence their PhD in 2019, with a preference for a February start to enable an MLS Graduate cohort experience.

To apply, please submit:

  • curriculum vitae, including information on prior completed research (e.g. Honours thesis, Masters thesis, publications)
  • all prior undergraduate and graduate academic transcripts
  • research proposal (between 1,500-2,000 words)
  • statement outlining reasons for seeking the ‘Digital Technologies and Protecting Privacy’ doctoral scholarship (maximum 250 words)
  • Further, to maintain confidentiality, two referee reports are to be sent directly from the referees to

    Applications close Sunday 30 September 2018 (11:59pm AEST)

    Address the application to Professor Jane Kaye, and submit to


    Direct enquiries about the application process to:

Centre for Health, Law and Emerging Technologies HeLEX@Melbourne