Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness

PhD Scholarship

Applications are invited from suitably qualified scholars for a PhD scholarship to undertake a higher degree by research through Professor Michelle Foster at the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness. This scholarship is open to both domestic and international students.

Melbourne Law School (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. Its faculty is a vibrant community of creative scholars, committed to a highly collegial, research-intensive institutional life.

On 1 February 2018, the Melbourne Law School’s Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness will begin operation under the leadership of Professor Michelle Foster with the objective of undertaking research, teaching and engagement activities aimed at reducing statelessness and protecting the rights of stateless people. The Centre will be based at Melbourne Law School and will draw on inter-disciplinary expertise from all parts of the University of Melbourne.

The focus of the Centre will be to develop teaching, research and engagement projects with three major aims:

  • To properly understand the scope, scale and reasons for statelessness in order to develop targeted and effective responses to it;
  • To work towards reducing and, over time, eliminating statelessness; and
  • Until statelessness is eliminated, working to protect the human rights of stateless people within the countries in which they reside.

The Centre staff will comprise the Director, Professor Michelle Foster, two full-time Research Fellows, a part-time Centre administrator, and will also include research assistants, graduate students and visiting fellows.

The successful candidate will be embedded in the Centre on Statelessness and will benefit from a research intensive and collegial environment.  The PhD candidate will be expected to take part in the life of the Centre, and attend seminars, workshops, and reading groups.  In addition, the successful candidate will benefit from the collegial environment for PhD students at Melbourne Law School, which includes a comprehensive orientation program, a weekly Research Support Program, three graduate research colloquia per year and an active Graduate Students Association.  Involvement in the University of Melbourne’s interdisciplinary PhD program in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies provides another support network in a multi-disciplinary environment.  Successful candidates may also apply for a competitive MLS Teaching Fellowship, which includes teacher training and mentoring, teaching and administrative experience.

Graduate research projects

Candidates’ research proposals should identify an innovative research question relevant to the themes of the Centre on Statelessness.   The work of the Centre will encompass a wide range of research methodologies, and proposals may outline conventional legal techniques of analysis, propose theoretical projects or projects based on empirical study (or a combination of these methods).  Inter-disciplinary project proposals are welcome.   Proposals are invited on a wide range of topics including (but not limited to) issues around the right to nationality at international law, domestic nationality laws and deprivation of citizenship, legal identity, the risk of statelessness, and/or human rights issues connected with the causes and ramifications of statelessness.

It is envisaged that the successful candidate will be based in Melbourne Law School under the supervision of Professor Michelle Foster, with support from a co-supervisor who may be an MLS academic affiliated with the Centre, such as Professors John Tobin or Susan Kneebone, or a co-supervisor from another faculty if appropriate.

Stipend and benefits

Scholarship recipients undertaking research at the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness will be awarded an annual stipend of AUD $30,000 (tax free), and will be eligible to apply for up to AUD $4,000 project funding over the course of their candidature for approved travel, fieldwork and conference attendance. The scholarship is available for a maximum period of 3.5 years, with no further extensions possible.

A relocation allowance of AUD $2,000 may be granted for candidates who need to move from outside Victoria or AUD $3,000 for candidates who need to move from outside Australia to study at the University of Melbourne.  Limited paid sick, maternity and parental leave is available.


Eligible applicants must:

  • have completed tertiary studies that are at least equivalent to a 4-year honours degree with a minimum result equivalent to a first class Honours (80%) or an equivalent level of academic attainment as demonstrated by a high 2A undergraduate degree combined with relevant work experience, research publications, referees’ reports or other research experience.
  • be available to undertake research full-time in Melbourne.
  • have not completed a PhD previously.
  • be able to commence their PhD prior to 30 November 2018.
  • must comply with the University's minimum entry requirements including English language requirements.

Further details on terms and conditions of this scholarship can be found here.

Commencement of candidature

The successful candidate must commence their PhD any time up to 30 November 2018.

Applications for the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness PhD scholarship must be submitted with clearly identified titles as listed below, and include the following:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • All prior undergraduate and graduate academic transcripts
  • Research proposal (maximum 2,000 words)
  • Statement outlining reasons for seeking to participate in the Centre's program (maximum 250 words)
  • Information on prior research completed (eg. Honours thesis, Masters thesis)

Further, to maintain confidentiality, two referee reports are to be sent directly from the referees to

Address the application to Professor Michelle Foster, and submit it to

Important Dates

Monday 27 November 2017
PhD Research (Statelessness) application submission opens
Monday 19 February 2018
PhD Research (Statelessness) application submission closes
Monday 12 March 2018
Shortlisted applicants advised
Monday 19 March 2018 - Friday 23 March 2018
Shortlist interview (in person or by videoconferencing, eg. Skype) with Professor Foster and nominated co-supervisor/s
Monday 13 April 2018
Due date for successful candidate to submit University of Melbourne Graduate Research Application Form online
May-November 2018
Candidature commences; date to be negotiated


Direct enquiries about the application process to: