Postgraduate study

The School of Media & Communication enables postgraduate students to pursue their research and creative interests and extend their critical skills under the guidance of dedicated academic supervisors.

Postgraduates in School of Media & Communication are supported by a vibrant, supportive, and collaborative intellectual culture, where research sees critical theory actively engaging with real world issues.

Our graduates are renowned for their intellectual rigour and creative approaches, as well as their capacity to apply their skills and insights to key issues across the media, communication, and creative industries.

Hear from our students

Postgraduate programs

Postgraduate research candidates can undertake research through a variety of approaches including creative practice, practice-based research as well as archival, field-based and text-based methodologies.

Research in all postgraduate research programs can be undertaken by thesis or as a project with a written exegetical component.

The School of Media and Communication currently offers the following research degrees:

Postgraduate Projects and Supervision

In order to maintain the highest levels of supervision for prospective students, the School of Media & Communication offers a set list of projects that build on our recognised research and supervision strengths.

Prospective students are invited to examine the lists below and to identify their preferred project. Applicants are required to discuss their selected project with the listed supervisor in the first instance, before following the application process outlined here.  

For further information on the admissions process, please contact sgr.admissions@rmit.edu.au

Available projects

Download PDF list of all Communication Projects (PDF 139KB)

Project Title: Digital Communication: Experiencing the Digital

Outline: How do people experience the digital today? What can ethnographic approaches contribute to our understandings of social, cultural and technological change? Where is digital communication headed? This project provides students and opportunity to explore these questions and their relationship with the contemporary world where digital and mobile technologies are increasingly pervasive. By using innovative, reflexive, and ethical ethnographic approaches to investigate wider processes of social and cultural change, this project offers new insights into digital communication theories and practices as well as their future.

Project Title: Adapting lifestyles for health: young people and their lived experiences

Outline: Young people are subject to a wide range of pressures when it comes to developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles. This project aims to understand the behavioural infrastructures underpinning lifestyle choices when it comes to living and eating healthily. Specifically, how do young people engage with their physical, technological, social and personal environment to enact a healthy lifestyle? This project will work with a number of industry and academic partners as part of a team contributing to a broad understanding of young people and health.

Project Title: Blockchain and Social Good

Outline: The project will involve a case study investigation of blockchain development and/or use by civil society for social good outcomes or public infrastructures. It will consider the various emerging models of blockchain governance (consensus mechanisms and decision-making) and incentives for participation. Relevant areas of existing research include studies of altruism and cooperation (for instance, Bowles and Gintis 2013), and civil society theory (Keane 1998). The research approach may include ethnographic work into blockchain communities and their motivations. The project will be based in the School of Media Communication and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (Technology, Communication and Policy Lab), and affiliated with RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub.

Project Title: Global and Cross Cultural Journalism

Outline: The ability of journalists to work and create stories for a cross cultural environment has never been more important, with geopolitical forces and masses disruption to the news industry. However cross cultural environments bring with them issues around cultural competency. This project is specifically designed for those who want to explore in depth matters of culture within journalism workplaces.

Project Title: Communicating health: designing a toolkit for social change

Outline: This project will work with a number of industry and academic partners as part of a team contributing to a broad understanding of young people and health. This project aims to use communication design principles and the body of work collected by the “Communicating Health” research team to create a toolkit that aims to provide guidance for social change projects in the future.

Project Title: Migration and Diverse Communities Project

Outline: This project is concerned with the globalised politics and experiences of (im)mobilities, and how these play out in our digitally saturated world. It aims to understand and demonstrate the diverse ways in which movement is experienced and impacts those who move, those who are left behind and receiver nation communities. It focuses the phenomenology of mobility in light of the sociopolitical and global context that is informed by current and historical relations of power. By engaging with and working alongside communities, the project aims to contribute to knowledge production, influence public discourses on diversity and the social policy landscape. This project is committed to social justice by surfacing patterns of power and privilege that maintain the status quo and to understanding the evolving and developing nature of diversity and social relations caused by the movements of people.

Project title: Creative and Cultural work in Australia

Outline: While the prospect of creative and cultural work has provided a compelling narrative for Higher Education providers, evidence suggests graduates face unique career challenges in the sector. We invite PhD proposals to undertake empirical and theoretical research on Australian creative graduates, especially those addressed to questions of the significance of gender and/or social class, and the relationship of creative vocations to employment. The successful applicant will collaborate with an international ARC Discovery Project team and have access to comparative quantitative data on graduate outcomes in Australia and the UK.

Project Title: Cute! Kawaii! Awww!: Humanising Technologies in the City

Outline: Digital technologies are increasingly embedded in everyday lives of people living in urban environments. Active discussions and design of robots and artificial intelligence question how they are perceived to care and be cared for those living in cities. As importantly, they raise questions around particular anthropocentric design choices, one of which is how “cuteness” is used to make them feel more approachable, acceptable, or even loveable. In this project, we study the current cute-scape of technologies designed for “caring” in different cultural setting and speculate its possible-tomorrows.

Project Title: Varieties of Populism

Outline: In representative democracies and elsewhere, populism is something of an inevitable background against which politics is conducted. Populist rationalities are a resource for politicians across the political spectrum. Figures like Trump, Duterte and other leaders across Asia and Europe suggest populism is a newly global force. What new conditions and circumstances for populism, including media and market populisms, need investigation? How are populist literacies communicated and why do they matter? 

Project Title: Diasporic digital/social media, cultural citizenship, and soft power

Outline: The role of diasporic media in mediating migrants’ lives in host countries is well documented. There is also an increasing amount of scholarship on non-English digital/social media produced and used by migrant communities in Australia and other Western immigration countries. The transnational dimension of digital/social media, the penetration of powers from home countries in the migrant communities in host countries, and the subsequent impact on identity and citizenship—those and other related questions are relevant to the current debates on multiculturalism and transnationalism. We invite PhD proposals to undertake empirical and theoretical research on the use of digital/social media among diasporic communities in Australia, especially those to address the questions of citizenship, identity, and soft power. The successful applicant will collaborate with an Australia Research Council Discovery Grant Project team and have access to quantitative data.

Project title: Digital childhoods

Outline: This project investigates the digital, online and mediated worlds of children. Differences between online identity and offline identity, the politics of online identity construction and relationships between communities on and offline in children's everyday lives will form the focus of a digital ethnographic project that engages empirically and theoretically with children's lived experiences. Work on digital childhoods (Danby, Fleer, et al 2018) is gaining momentum, as are theories of youth citizenship as a creative or situated performance (Hickey-Moody 2013, 2014, 2016). This PhD will unite these bodies of scholarship through digital ethnographic methods, contributing to the fields of cultural studies of everyday life, youth studies and digital methods.

Project Title: Digital culture and economy of disability

Outline: We invite PhD proposals to undertake empirical and theoretical research on the relation of digital/social media, disability, and employment/entrepreneurship. Such research can be country specific or adopt an internationally comparative framework. We are interested in issues related to the culture and economy of digital disability from interdisciplinary perspectives such as critical media studies, cultural studies, anthropology, and social policy. Key issues related to digital media and disability can be intertwined with gender, sexuality, class, and race/ethnicity.

Project Title: Engaging China & Australia via a Sports Diplomacy Approach in the Contemporary Era

Outline: The use of sports is becoming one of the popular tools to build a country’s soft power and to develop bilateral relations. Australia is acknowledged with its sports strength in the areas of AFL, and the current Chinese leadership strongly promotes the development of soccer as an industry and a nation-branding tool domestically and globally. This project investigates how to employ soccer as another diplomatic approach to facilitate the Sino-Australian relations in the contemporary era. It aims to explore the collaborative areas of hosting soccer events, establishing grass-root based soccer clubs, developing grass-root based soccer culture, and building an innovative tool to connect the cross-border football fans.

Project Title: Creating trust and credibility in a post-truth age of political communication

Outline: Public sentiment suggests high levels of dissatisfaction and cynicism with regards to the current state of political communication and the overt mediatisation of politics. This has been a long-standing point of critical and popular inquiry, with the current crisis of trust in a post-truth age at the forefront. This project investigates the symbiotic relationship between public relations, journalism, media, and politics, and explores ways to build trust and credibility between political actors and citizens. This knowledge is crucial to develop best practice models of political communication and encourage meaningful political discourse.

Project Title: Ethics and data-driven communication

Outline: As communication platforms are increasingly being driven by AI, proprietary algorithms and data capitalism, ethical dilemmas continue to arise that impact on governance structures and industry implementation of the technologies. In this project we aim to explore data ethics on communication platforms specifically. There are many social and industry disruptions in which data ethics can be explored. What are the key ethical dilemmas in the areas of citizenship and sovereignty of data, alternative economies and platform governance and regulation? Can distributed ownership offer a solution or does it raise different ethical concerns? And then what is the impact on communication professionals and their role; e.g. is there a role for communication professionals in data-driven communication or has this now gone beyond what professionals can really control and is more about the governance of platforms?

Project Title: Forensic interviewing skills for journalists

Outline: This project looks at ways of developing trust in journalistic interviewing through police-inspired interviewing techniques. Police in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand have been trained to enhance recall by a subject, and optimize that subject’s capacity to express themselves, in the often stressful setting of an institutional interview. This project seeks to determine if a similar matrix can be used by journalists to optimize an interview subject’s recall and thereby improve methods of getting accurate, truthful and well-rounded representations of events. This is particularly significant since the surge in concern about “fake news” in the Trump campaign, the UK’s Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press and the Finkelstein Inquiry into the Australian media. Our overall project intends to investigate the extent to which new scientific principles underlying investigative interviewing by police can be used as a foundation to construct an empirically sound method of interviewing for journalists (particularly of people who have been involved in traumatic events or in vulnerable positions).

Project title: Helping Older Men Save Themselves: A Social Marketing Paradox

Outline: Global business There is a gender paradox in mortality, with men dying earlier than women despite possessing greater socioeconomic resources. Research has shown that holding stereotypical notions of masculinity reduce preventative health care and lower perception of risks, particularly for middle aged or older men. Health and safety interventions do not necessarily address the gendered background of lifestyle behaviours, and so social marketing campaigns targeting middle-aged or older men commonly fail to change behaviours or attitudes. Further investigation into social marketing strategies and masculine dynamics is needed for more effective communication of health and safety related messages to this challenging target group.

Project Title: Social, cultural, and critical perspectives on public relations

Outline: PR is positioned as a powerful actor in contemporary societies, where it operates as an important intermediary between organisations, media, and publics. However, much of the professionalization of PR, and its development as a scholarly discipline, has focussed on its organisational positioning and role as a business function, while research about PR as a social phenomenon and site for critical inquiry has been limited. This project explores public relations from alternative and interdisciplinary perspectives that are essential to understanding the social and cultural influence and phenomenological impact of PR, as well as strengthen its efficacy and legitimacy as a profession and practice.

Project Title: I was a different man then': Global masculinities in popular genre film and television

Outline: This project redresses numerous critical gaps on intersections of masculinity, society and popular culture, importantly extending screen scholarship beyond textual analysis and Anglo-American contexts. In its first phase, the project is interested in global representations of masculinities in genre film and television, especially in ‘male action’ genres. This could include: ageing on screen; screen masculinities in Asian action cinemas; approaches to screenwriting and creative practice; and transnational reception studies of action films, focusing on evolving understandings of masculinity and mediated nostalgia. What might contemporary representations indicate about attitudes to broader social transformations, such as male anxieties about continued cultural, economic and political precedence?

Project Title: Imagining digital creative futures in advertising

Outline: This project investigates how creative practices in advertising and associated industries might respond to the possibilities presented by digital media. What is creativity in this space? Are traditional roles of Art Director and Copywriter still relevant? What will Advertising creativity look like in Australia and the Asian region? The thesis will be presented as two components: a body of creative work and a dissertation. The creative work will be a substantial and significant work that embodies a sustained answer to the research question. The dissertation will define the purpose and theoretical basis for the creative practice, drawing on examples from the relevant literature.

Project title: Mediations of feminism

Outline: This project articulates feminism as a constructive practice that enables social change for women and others oppressed by sexism and heteronormativity. The PhD can be either a project or a thesis. The candidate will produce a feminist work; for instance, through the medium of film or animation, poetry or a novel or as a thesis that articulates feminist ideas. The project/thesis will be a significant work that embodies feminist mediation as a constructive practice. If the student creates a project, the exegesis will define the theoretical basis for the creative practice, drawing on examples from relevant literature.

Project title: Digital Politics

Outline: We are interested in the role of communication (technologies, practices, actors, frameworks) in the art of politics, ordinarily conceived as electoral politics but also more broadly how digitally networked populations are governed. One area of interest is how digital platforms impact on the political communication process and what opportunities there are for a real contribution to policy formation and public debate within and via digital networks.

Project title: Native advertising and global cultures

Outline: As digital platforms attract larger audiences traditional media outlets, advertisers have progressively sought to tailor and adapt their strategies to meet this shift. Building on the product placement approach, native advertising positions advertising as content and provides a means by which advertisers can integrate themselves and their messages into new platforms in a seamless way. But how do strategies and execution vary between advertisers in different countries? To what degree are their approaches consistent across the globe? To what degree are they informed by national cultures? This project aims to answer these questions by unpacking and critically examining native advertising approaches across different platforms and countries.

Project Title: Queer histories and creative practices

Outline: How can creative practice be used to explore how public spaces are used by queer people? What role do queer people play in maintaining lively cities, creative communities, and healthy societies? Working with industry partners including arts organisations and archives, this project seeks to enrich understandings of queer pasts and presents, looking at creative uses of public space for socialisation, transgression, incitement, creativity, daily life, and community organisation. This project will use existing archives, document new oral histories, and create playful, innovative solutions to digital and material encounters, using creative practice approaches from nonfiction creative writing and screen production research.

Project Title: Reexplore Cross-border Smart Education with the Innovation of Digital Platforms

Outline: Different sectors including government, commercial, and academic concentrate on building the following dimensions of smart cities, including smart transport and smart environment, but pay limited attention on the dimension of smart education. This project explores what smart education should be in Australian higher education in order to achieve a sustainable growth of the smart city/nation/global society. It aims to establish the theoretical framework of smart education, to develop smart education strategies in Australian high education, and to develop an innovative tool to enhance knowledge transfer, global connectivity, and cross-border talent flows in the context of globalisation.

Project Title: Communicating One Belt & One Road via Network Diplomacy: Comparison of Digital Narrative in Russia and Australia and its Global Meaning

Outline: Russia as China’s competent and reliable partner and a member of OBOR raises suspicion of OBOR and Australia chose not to participate in OBOR due to its mistrust in the initiative and close ties to the US. This project examines how China communicates OBOR digitally in Russia and Australia; compare the digital narrative in both countries; and investigates the impact of China’s network diplomacy on digital economy and bilateral relations.

Project Title: Rethinking the professional communication industry: entrepreneurs as disruptors

Outline: There is nothing new about the claim that advertising and the communication industry is not what is used to be (West 2017; Summers 2017). Many advertising agencies and the brands they represent have been caught on the back foot over recent years. Fifteen, even 10 years ago no-one could have predicted the effects the digital and social revolution might have on the communication industry. The stalwart of the communication agency, the 30-second commercial has lost it former glory, public relations’ press release made in a room of curious journalists have matured into strategic ideas and events. However, many ‘traditional’ agencies have had to embrace the notion of ‘evolve or die’. One school of thought, as postulated by Deighton (2017), argues that some advertisers are integrators, who are able to integrate data from source to data applications. These integrators, he argues, are titans in a battle to create the dominant design for a platform on which all marketing will be practiced in future. But, who will do the work of marketing? Will it be done by an evolved version of the advertising agency, will it by institutionalised into a culture of data science; or will it not be professionalised at all but rather defer to alone or more standard setting practice? To gain a broader understanding of the phenomenon, the role of the professional communication entrepreneur and its potential to disrupt the industry to affect change needs to be explored.

Project Title: The rise and rise of public relations

Outline: Although public relations has emerged as a key communication industry, it is an irony that the growth and development of this industry has largely gone unnoted. Past practices and campaigns in the public relations field offer important insights into contemporary PR industry. This project seeks to address this shortcoming by undertaking a critical study of public relations and its history. By examining key public relations campaigns, practices, and professionals across various countries, this project asks how public relations has evolved in relation to broader social, cultural, technological, and economic changes with a view to demonstrating the impact of the past on the present.

Project Title: Communicating Publics

Outline: This project investigates publics, and the public literacies entailed in acting on the urgency of now. How are the challenges around matters as pressing and diverse as climate change, 21st century news environments, the adequacy of city infrastructures, and relations between diverse groups in differently placed populations articulated and opened up for decision-making? Our research agenda is problem-oriented and focused on the intersection of communication, social relations, and democratic decision-making. 

Project Title: Screening radicalisation - youth perceptions of images of radicalisation and extremist violence in global film & tv

Outline: The role of the Internet and social media in processes of radicalisation is well documented and dominates government-led Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiatives. This project addresses a crucial knowledge gap pertaining to how traditional media shape youth attitudes to radicalisation and extremist violence. The project seeks analyses of portrayals in global film and television and/or reception studies of youth perceptions and attitudes, focusing especially on gendered depictions of heroism, salvation and sacrifice-martyrdom. This project will make an important contribution to still incomplete understandings of cultural influences on radicalisation processes and potentially inform the design of future CVE counter-narratives.

Project Title: Spanning boundaries: exploring cross cultural communication praxis

Outline: As technologies advance and cross border engagement increases, questions emerge on the dominance of western-oriented, and specialised, perspectives of global communication practice and education. Colonial histories, cultural values and political economies often shape perceptions and practices of organisational communication, social responsibility and sustainability. It has been argued that crossing disciplinary boundaries is critical to advancing the field. In this research, we explore how we navigate geographical and disciplinary boundaries to advance communication education and professional practice in the Global North and Global South. This research will be valuable for communication academics and practitioners interested in advancing praxis.

Project Title: Searching for a brand's voice in conversation marketing communication

Outline: Advances in our ability to convert human conversations into data that a machine understands and artificial intelligence over the last few years, we are starting to see more accurate voice and chat interactions through virtual private assistants, smart speakers and chatbots. This is opening up a variety of uses in the mainstream. The increasing proficiency of choice, microcontent (Chung 2018) and chat interfaces, the increasing accuracy of digital virtual private assistants, the uniqueness of face and voice prints and the scaling of augmented and mixed realities if used well, can make for deeper customer relationships (Galetto 2018) because the machine knows when we are happy, sad or angry. (Future Trends Institute 2018; Nicol 2018). However, conversation marketing communication requires brands to rethink their structures and processes since it requires marketers to combine utility and added value with customer service and brand experience. How will brands embrace these challenges to communicate with their customers? What will these new formats and opportunities look like?

Project Title: The superficial evolution of equality in advertising: the next great wave of change

Outline: The advertising industry's barriers to entry, efforts to overcome problems of inclusivity, and the future of multicultural perspectives in a digital age are well documented. The #TimesUp and #MeToo movements underscore the need for women, but in particular, women in advertising’s

stories to be uncovered and told. Social media is giving everyday people an amplified public voice; women have never been so educated and present in the workforce; marriage equality made society stop and think about fairness and the invisible prejudices they had blindly accepted. But will the advertising industry step up when it comes to the next wave of change that is equality? Moreover, will more academic-industry bridges that are necessary to build authentic programs that increase inclusivity and address covert sexism, racism and structural oppression, support the change?

Project Title: Sustainable consumption and mindfulness

Outline: This project aims to understand the impact of mindful consumption on sustainable consumption. The barriers and facilitators to sustainable consumption are myriad and as yet under explored. There are at least four schools of thought in sustainable consumption that have acknowledged potential to moderate consumption. This project will examine these perspectives and identify the role of mindfulness in developing sustainable consumption behaviours.

Project Title: What does it mean? Making sense of risk and disaster narratives

Outline: As geographical boundaries blur and complexities increase in the digital environment, questions emerge on how we manage our identities and those of others. This research explores discourses of identity, diversity, inclusion, gender, religion and culture within organisational and societal contexts. In particular, we are interested in how multiple cultural perspectives might inform these discourses. Generating knowledge in this area will help transform how we create and co-create discourses enables inclusion in our urban and rural communities, as well as developing media literacy for various stakeholders.

Project Title: THINKING DIFFERENCE

Outline: This project – thesis or project -- focuses on the concept of difference. Rather than construing difference negatively, the candidate will think difference as the generative basis for place, an open thinking of time and non-hierarchical relationships between human beings. We welcome projects that deploy difference in the effort to reconceive nature as non-totalisable. The candidate’s thesis or project will make a significant contribution to feminist, queer, anti-racist and/or ecological thinking.

Project Title: Why We Live Alone: And Eat, Play, Work, and Sleep Alone

Outline: People living alone are on the rise in cities around the world; they are expected to make up 30-40% of all households in many countries by 2030. The ageing population is one factor. The rise of people choosing to live alone is another. At the same time, more people are dying alone. How might we better understand and care for them? What are the associated social, health, economic, and environmental impact? And how might we co-create liveable urban futures? These are some of the key questions driving this project

Project Title: You, me, we: examining inclusive communication in the digital age

Outline: As geographical boundaries blur and complexities increase in the digital environment, questions emerge on how we manage our identities and those of others. This research explores discourses of identity, diversity, inclusion, gender, religion and culture within organisational and societal contexts. In particular, we are interested in how multiple cultural perspectives might inform these discourses. Generating knowledge in this area will help transform how we create and co-create discourses enables inclusion in our urban and rural communities, as well as developing media literacy for various stakeholders.

Project Title: Indigenous Cartographies: Place-based Storytelling and the Culture of Games 

Outline: Pokémon Go has brought augmented reality and pervasive games to centre stage, prompting new questions around how we use public space and city streets. Notions of space and place are invariably entangled with questions of belonging and exclusion, as well as how everyday mobile technologies are used to create interactive experiences. Possible research questions include (but are not limited to): How can pervasive games be designed with a situated awareness that responds to local, urban, and historic notions of place and place-relations? In what ways can locative practices engage with and reveal Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations to place? How can situated storytelling techniques promote Indigenous capacity and wider community engagement? 

Creative practice projects are invited in any artistic medium, particularly those that engage with augmented reality via our storytelling platform. Interested PhD applicants will have opportunities to work directly with Traditional Owner communities, government and industry. Students will gain insight into game development, content curation and digital storytelling techniques. Research training will be provided in screen, sound, audio-visual technologies, locative media, and online and on-site situated storytelling methods. 

Project Title: Journalism Technologies

Outline: Digital technologies and the wider circumstances in which they are being taken up are forcing major changes to journalism practise which have transnational ramifications. Some of the changes to practice include the introduction of, or the emergence of, artificial intelligence, mobile journalism, drone journalism, fake news, clickbait, native advertising, news bots, non-profit journalism, viral news, data journalism, information management, basic code, deep search and search engine optimisation techniques. Journalists are increasingly needing to use these tools - as well as sound, vision, and reportage, to produce outstanding journalism. What calculated and other outcomes for journalism's public role do these tools and associated knowledges [or logics or rationalities] have? Projects in this area consider the historic, current and emerging working practices of journalists as well as the structures, funding and products of the journalism industries.

Project Title: Long-form journalism

Outline: Long-form journalism, although a historic form of journalism, has become increasingly popular among working journalists with news organisations increasingly working with the form in a bid to engage new audiences. Long-form journalism is often called creative non-fiction or narrative journalism but also magazine journalism. Although long-form journalism can be works presented in traditional book form, it can also use other mediums such as radio, vision and multimedia. The serious longer-form journalism produced in this style is often considered the highest form of journalism, and works in this project should be considered for high-quality journalistic work, such as longer investigative pieces. This project allows candidates to explore long-form journalism alongside an exegesis.

Download PDF list of all Media Projects (PDF 168KB)

Project Title: Screen & Sound Cultures

Outline: This project investigates various contexts, epistemologies, methods, and methodologies to enrich understandings of the various cultures observed in, around, and through screen and sound. Successful applicants will work within Screen & Sound Cultures, a collaborative research group for scholars and creative practitioners working across the fields of screen studies, popular music, filmmaking, screenwriting, media history, curatorial practice, sound design, online media and a range of other interconnected fields. It foregrounds and fosters cross-disciplinary research, local and international collaborations, industry and community links, and the nexus between teaching and research.

Project Title: Adaptation Studies

Outline: This project seeks to explore page-to-screen and screen-to-page adaptations of both popular and classic titles. You will examine this kind of adaptation from the perspective of both literary and film studies. The project will survey a range of writers (novelists, dramatists and screenwriters) and also explore a range of genres and themes that have been the subject of adaptation. This project will identify different theoretical frames through which adaptation can be analysed and evaluated. Potential topics could include, prose to screen narratives, multi-sourced adaptations, theatrical adaptations of films and books and historical accuracy in adaptations.

Project title: Archiving Popular Music History and Heritage

Outline: The history of popular music is increasingly being captured in a variety of ways, from official displays in museums (including the recently opened Australian Music Vault), through to websites and other digital archives created by fans or musicians. This project will take a broad approach to examining the how this past is captured and interpreted, including: through consideration of archives as (potential) economic resources; through examining the relationship of design to music and music subcultures and how this shapes how we think about the past; and through examining the relationship between online and offline representations of artefacts and memories.

Project Title: Augmented Place Narratives

Outline: New technologies are reshaping how we interact with the environment. We are seeing more localised forms of technology-mediated experiences using augmented and virtual reality applications. Immersive participatory simulations are part of our everyday lives, enabling participants to interact with digital information embedded in physical environments. This project welcomes proposals interested in examining the state of the art in AR and VR. We welcome proposals that explore how our practices can trouble the meanings of place, how the very nature of the local can be challenged socially and politically through community, (dis)connection, indigeneity, ownership, belonging, homelessness, dwelling, memory, walking, ‘play’ and other social practices.

Project Title: Innovation in Journalism

Outline: The global news industry has been undergoing a period of innovation and radical change, with major disruption to the economic models that once paid for public interest journalism and questions raised about funding of such journalism, including of journalism outside liberal

democracies. With that disruption brings a range of issues to be explored around new funding models, new forms of journalism (mobile journalism, community journalism, hyper local journalism, citizen journalism), and even new ways of thinking about journalism, journalism technologies, and their role within society. At stake is even the question What is Journalism? And who is a Journalist.

Project Title: Australian screen stories

Outline: This project responds to the current, ongoing and 'real world' issues in the Australian stage and screen industries. Crusades such as the Make it Australian campaign – and the more specifically targeted Gender Matters initiative – suggest significant challenges to creating Australian stories intended for theatrical or screen production. The project investigates the notion of 'Australian story' with a particular interest in marginalised voices. Drawing on RMIT's international reputation in script writing practice research, the project takes a creative practice approach, with the development of a uniquely Australian play or screenplay informed by, and responding to, the evolving concerns of the industries in which it is theoretically situated. 

Project Title: The contemporary bio-pic

Outline: Biographical films, or “biopics”, have enjoyed consistent popularity since the earliest days of cinema despite persistent criticism from film scholars regarding the films’ loose play with ‘facts’ and ‘truth’. This project seeks to address the gap in scholarship concerning the biopic and invites proposals for theoretical and creative practice projects that explore the conventions and complexities of the genre. This could include (but is not limited to) studies relating to genre and genre hybridity; stardom and performance; and the relationship between authenticity and fictionalisation. How might a deeper understanding of the “biopic” enable new creative approaches to this popular genre? 

Project Title: The Cult Film

Outline: “Cult film” is a multifarious term that refers to a broad range of film types, filmmakers, critical practices and reception contexts around which a lively area of academic and scholarly enquiry has surfaced in recent years. This project invites proposals that will make a significant contribution to the development of new approaches or to comprehensive analysis of established subjects in any area of cult film. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to): national or regional manifestations of cult film; politics and cult film; sound and music in cult film; digital technology and cult film; exhibition practices; studies in cult reception and fandom; cult film and nostalgia.

Project Title: Journalism and trauma, suicide and serious mental health issues.

Outline: Media workers find themselves on the front line of many traumatic news events – and face pressures not only on their own mental health, but also in the awkward position of trying to raise awareness about these sensitive issues without causing further harm. This project looks at how the media works with these issues, and the impact not only on media workers such as journalists and camera operators, but on communities in Australia and abroad (including refugee and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, war zones and states in transition). 

Project Title: Digital Storytelling and Screen Production Research Methodologies

Outline: How can screen production research be used to create new forms of digital narrative and/or remediate older forms? This project investigates the various contexts, epistemologies, methods, and methodologies to enrich understandings of the production and prototyping of screen-based storytelling projects, including web series, podcasts, interactive documentary/drama, transmedia, social media content, apps, mobile media, mobile art, 360 VR videos and Augmented Reality experiences. We welcome proposals that utilise media production methodologies, including practice-based research, practice-led research, and research-led practice, in order to contextualise approaches to media content, aesthetics and/or technologies within wider contemporary practices.

Project Title: Changing Asia, Changing Media: Media and Social Transformation in Asia

Outline: Asia has experienced rapid social changes and media growth since the 1990s. In this project, we explore a wide range of journalism/media-related issues in diverse political, cultural and social contexts in this region: the changing landscape of journalism in the era of digitisation, government media regulation strategies, political campaigns and propaganda, the opportunities and challenges of social media, the rise of citizen journalism, media representation of important/challenging local/regional/global issues. 

Project Title: Digital photography & social media as a tool to improve community protection and policing

Outline: Usage of digital media such as photography and video, originally posted for social media, has been extended for medical and legal purposes. This usage has begun to be scrutinised by legal, ethics experts and members of the public, who are raising questions about the implications of these practices in relation to the current legal frameworks imposed by National and State Privacy Acts. This project will enrol a student to gauge the awareness of general public about ethical and privacy issues arising from the use of digital media using qualitative and quantitative techniques including mining of Big Data and focalised interviews.

Project Title: The Fourth Estate ain't what it used to be: a new political economy of news

Outline: This project investigates changes in news journalism as a key institution in the organization of knowledge and everyday life. These changes have political, economic, socio-cultural, technological and organizational dimensions. Professionalization, automation, digitalization, data-fication, and casualization name some of the recent ways that journalists and their audiences are caught up in new forms of governing digitally networked populations, in terms of how they can know their societies, economies and polities. These new forms of governing have thrown up questions about trust and authority in news production, the effects of global reach, the consequences of algorithmic measurement of audience engagement. Exploring these changes to public knowledge is an important element in making digital society and economy more inclusive.

Project Title: Making Media: Digital Self-representation + New Identities

Outline: Are you interested in ‘making media’ for advocacy, activist or awareness-raising activities? Do you want to know how processes of self-representation work to dismantle stereotypes of race, class, gender identities or sexualities? We invite proposals from members of First Nations, refugee, migrant, marginalised or LGBT communities seeking to examine the significance of media for their political and cultural needs. We welcome proposals on documentary, film, video, social and news media, digital art, games or interactive media. Topics may include community building/engagement, practices of self-representation/self-determination, transmedia storytelling, interfaith and crosscultural dialogue, gender and race-based discrimination, anti-violence against women, or human rights

Project Title: The Matter of Media

Outline:  In the changing mediascape — where the platforms, formats, and styles du jour can change overnight — what is the stuff of media? What tools and resources do all creators still have access to, control over, in order to craft their narratives or creative experimentations? This project calls for theoretical, philosophical, and practical interventions into the materiality of media including, but not limited to film, television, online or digital platforms, virtual reality, writing, or video games.

Project Title: Music and Film

Outline: It is only relatively recently that film theorists and scholars have begun to challenge the “hegemony of the visual” in film studies by turning their attention to the roles played by music and sound. The School of Media and Communication at RMIT has a number of academics working at the intersection of film and music studies and seeks proposals for projects that will contribute to this dynamic field. Possible topics might relate (but are not limited) to: film music and affect; studies of particular composers; the curated film soundtrack; director and composer creative teams; musical performance on film; music and silent cinema; the film soundtrack album; film music and genre.

Project Title: Music and the City

Outline: In 2018, Melbourne was not only named the world’s most liveable city but also the live music capital of the world. How can music shape a city and also shape the lives of its residents? This project considers the place of music (particularly live popular music performance, although other forms are considered) within the city, investigating such aspects as infrastructure, sustainability, understanding and engaging communities, policy, the music economy, related creative industries, scenes and subcultures, festivals and events, and more. The project will use interdisciplinary research techniques, such as practice-based enquiry, digital and participant/observation ethnography to understand the urban environment.

Project Title: Care for Social Futures

Outline: This project explores how we might embed care in all facets of formal and informal, digital and material context to create new pathways towards inclusive and just futures in this rapidly ageing, socially precarious, and digitally networked era. We are particularly interested in exploring non-disciplinary-bounding, and co-creative ways of doing research and practice focused on care and wellbeing.

Project Title: Mobile first image communication

Outline: Digital media technologies make it simple to capture and share images using mobile devices and social media services, yet understandings of their impact is less certain. How do organisations manage images for sharing information and knowledge? How is visual content produced, consumed and analysed in media rich and mobile environments? How do organisations utilise ‘mobile first’ developments, everyday media practices and peer production to share image-based information and knowledge? Prospective students will have the option to work with the supervisory team on ‘FireLens’, a Victoria State government partnership project that is focusing on the development of an app and media platform image management system. Candidates are also invited to develop their own topics related to the theme of photographic or audiovisual communication.

Project Title: Music and Youth Identity

Outline: Popular music was once considered a strictly ‘youthful’ form of culture, but over time this connection has become more tenuous. What is the relationship between youth and popular music in contemporary society? This project will investigate how young people understand and use music, in particular as a part of identity-making. How have new forms of interaction with music, such as streaming and the creation of digital subcultures, changed young people’s relationship with music? To what extent do music and music-making provide resources to a group characterised as problematic and ‘at risk’ in a neoliberal economy?

Project Title: Music as Global: 21st Century Perspectives

Outline: In this age of digital media and 21st century communication technologies, music can impact industries or communities of people that lie beyond the confines of the geographical borders of cities, states or countries. This critical and trans-disciplinary project focusses on the globalisation of music (via, for example, genres, bands, musicians and instruments) and the resulting issues (such as multi-culturalism, cross-culturalism, identity), using a chosen method of enquiry (practice-based / written research) in a region (preferably Australasia, Asia-Pacific or Japan). It may include contemporary examinations of 'world music', marketing non-western musics in western markets or the analysis of local/global music production. 

Project Title: Nostalgia in Contemporary Film and Television

Outline: From the idealized visions of 1950s life offered in television shows like Happy Days (1974 – 1984), to the romanticisation of cinema’s yesteryear in films such as Cinema Paradiso (1988), film and television have always yearned for the past. But many cultural critics see the current “nostalgia boom” as a particular post-internet phenomenon, citing the wave of remakes, reboots and other efforts to revive the past as symptomatic of cultural exhaustion. This project invites proposals for studies that respond to this cultural and critical interest in nostalgia in film and television. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to): studies of particular eras as represented in nostalgic film and television; studies of particular nostalgic films; studies of nostalgic televisions series (e.g. Glow, Mad Men); politics and nostalgia; nostalgia programing and the “reboot”; sound and music in nostalgic film and television; digital technology and the nostalgia boom.

Project Title: Popular Music Now

Outline: What is the place of popular music in contemporary society? This project examines specific issues in popular music in the ‘here and now’: intercultural challenges, political issues, or postcolonial identities, among others. It seeks to unpack and analyse the role popular music can play in the everyday life of people via, for example, mediated contexts such as television, the internet or live streaming; performance spaces such as concerts; community engagement such as festivals or street parties; and other music-industry areas. This project can use practiced-based modes of enquiry, such as music-making, or a thesis as its mode of investigation.

Project Title: Identity, Migration and American Psychedelic Rock in the 1970s

Outline: Psychedelic rock was dependent on a crisis of modernity in a society where recording technology allowed white suburbanites to appropriate music from both national and international sounds that they wouldn’t have otherwise heard. Through America’s segregation of its white and ‘other’ populations into ghettoes and suburbs, white Americans were able to indulge in a romanticisation of African Americans that had little do with reality. They thus created psychedelic rock, a racially hybrid musical form that borrowed from the blues, jazz, soul, folk, and raga records that now had a global mobility. This music, and the ‘freak’ identity they adopted, were a way of attempting to transgress and transcend the experience of white suburban place and identity that they felt forced onto them. Through the migration of members of the American military, these musical forms and concepts of whiteness spread even further into countries like Germany, Japan, and Vietnam. This study will outline the romanticisation that segregation can bring into existence, as well as the way it can lead the separated groups into narrowly defined and unrealistic identities. In doing this study I hope to create awareness of, and lessen the impact of, racial romanticisation while exploring ways in which the spread of culture through migration plays a role in such romanticisation

Project Title: Television in Transition: Audiences and Industries in a Digital Era

Outline: Post-broadcast television culture is in a state of flux, shaped by the emergence of new technologies, online streaming platforms, devices, institutions, and cultures of viewing. We invite applications for projects in media, communications and cultural studies that explore these changes (and continuities) within national, regional or transnational contexts, or in relation to specific critical debates and issues in the field. Projects focusing on television industries and/or audiences in a digital context, and their intersection, are especially welcomed.

Project Title: Thinking cinema

Outline: The histories of film theory and, more recently, of film-philosophy, can be productively read through the lens of the speculative proposition that film ‘thinks’. We seek to approach film in its widest sense, including VR, interactive cinema, online and digital video, as well as cinema more conventionally conceived, in order to explore their conceptual and critical affordances as modes of conceptual and practical engagement with the world, and with human life and social practice. We invite projects that explore this ‘thought of the cinema’, whether from theoretical or philosophical perspectives (film-philosophy, the histories of film theory), or through ‘hands on’ explorations of film form and practice.

Project title: Understanding Changes in Representation in Australian Popular Music

Outline: Recently there has been increasing scrutiny of issues relating to equal representation in the Australian music industries. This has led to a number of initiatives from industry bodies, government, and at more grassroots levels, to try to increase the participation of women-identified, GNC, queer, CALD, Indigenous, and non-white persons in music, as well as a focus on class and geographic inclusivity. This project will study these attempts to determine how inequality has become entrenched in popular music, what approaches are most successful in addressing this, and ensuring the full participation of all Australians in this important segment of our economy/workforce.

Project Title: Young people's views of digital advocacy

Outline: Young people are actively engaging in digital advocacy alongside leadership development and activism. Children, adolescents and emerging young adults are getting involved in areas as wideranging as digital rights, social causes, and healthy use of social media. In this project we’re interested in exploring the views of young people themselves about digital advocacy, what entices them to engage, and to go deeper into understanding the social and personal motivations for youth digital advocacy. We encourage HDR projects from a variety of methodological approaches, and particularly welcome proposals that might be interested in including eye-tracking/multi-sensory perception as ways of understanding young people’s views. For example, can eye-tracking technology provide insights into how young people experience co-design or development of digital advocacy content? What kinds of digital/social content engages them in advocacy, and can eyetracking and psychophysiology tell us what draws their attention and/or their emotional response to content & comments.

Project Title: Screening Gender: creative practice approaches to interrogating gender in screen works and screenwriting

Outline:  This project examines gendered screen representations and perspectives. Through playful approaches to writing and making, we seek new understandings of gender in narrative structure and visual storytelling. The project is interested in intersections of professional practice and gendered perceptions in society and popular culture through various critical frameworks (feminism/s, masculinities, queer theory), applied to genre (such as romantic comedy, action) and thematic concerns (e.g. gender fluidity, female friendship, bromance). 

Project Title: Social Inclusion and Exclusion within Consumer Fan Cultures and Civic Engagement Spaces

Outline: Marginalised groups must regularly manage their participation in social spaces that are hegemonically exclusionary by nature, often by creating spaces and communities of their own that, in turn, exclude individuals who threaten or do not ‘belong’ in those spaces. Both these processes of gatekeeping can be problematic: the protocols and rules of communities that manage their safety through gatekeeping may not be well thought-out and lead to intersectional exclusions. This project will investigate the structural processes of inclusion and exclusion in Australian spaces and communities, such as gendered fan cultures and activist spaces, and the social, economic and cultural consequences of these exclusions. It seeks to examine barriers (whether policy-based or algorithmic) that marginalised people face for inclusion to various groups, and how those barriers shape the groups that create and enforce them. It will also attempt to understand the digital, mediated strategies marginalised people utilise for creating new communities and overcoming barriers for inclusion into hegemonic spaces.

Project Title: Mediations of Queer and Trans Thinking

Outline:This project articulates queer thinking and/or trans thinking as a constructive practice that enables social change for queer and trans people and others effected by heteronormativity and cis-sexism. The study can be either a project or a thesis. The candidate will produce a queer or trans work; for instance, through the medium of film or animation, poetry or a novel or as a thesis that articulates queer and/or trans ideas. The project/thesis will be a significant work that embodies queer and/or trans mediation as a constructive practice. If the student creates a project, the exegesis will define the theoretical basis for the creative practice, drawing on examples from relevant literature.

Download PDF of all Writing Projects (PDF 95KB)

Project Title: Creative writing and publishing: play, experiments and new directions

Outline: What can creative writing and publishing do today? How can creative writing methods, and their tools including play, narrative, metaphor, performance, observation, listening and speculation, contribute to understandings of contemporary realities, from the personal to the political? How does formal experimentation, including the digital, intersect with contestation of normative assumptions? Can writing and publishing still change the world and what do we even mean by writing? By using playful engagements with poetry, fiction, nonfiction and performance writing to investigate pressing material, social, ecological and cultural issues, this project offers new insight into innovative methods and applications of creative writing, and how creative writing and publishing helps shape contemporary realities.

Project Title: Author contracts in Australia: Reflecting the changing face of publishing

Outline: This Design and Creative Practice industry-focussed project analyses author/publisher contracts in the Australian book industry over a fifty-year period (1970s to now), providing invaluable trend information on the degree to which terms and conditions have changed over that period, testing the validity of popular assumptions about author/publisher relations and industry change, and opening up the opportunity for a more productive discussion over the future of publishing models and fair contracts.

Project Title: Creative practice as/through queer thinking

Outline: This project explores the possibility and range of queer thinking through and because of the focus of the creative practice. It seeks to unpack/reconfigure the relationship or dynamic between non/ fiction and a queer aesthetic. It is attentive to form and process; it might be difficult to classify. It elevates all that is tangential, oblique, unspoken, transitory, unsettled, strange. What might this imaginary look like, feel like? It goes beyond (bends) genre to explore transgressive and performative contours and cartographies. It nudges, queries, challenges, dances, essays. It pays attention to both the what and how things are being said, aligning with the DCP’s priority area of notion of the playful-as-probe, lens and practice. The project invites and implicates diverse modes of creative practice, including the essayistic, poetic, performative and fictional.

Project Title: Feminism: philosophy: creative writing

Outline: This project inhabits the nexus between feminist theory, philosophy, and creative writing and aims, through creative practice, to extend the possibilities of all three. Its focus is on creative writing as a method for complicating and re-imagining the sorts of questions normally addressed in discursive philosophy, with a particular focus on feminist theory. It asks how creative writing might invigorate feminist philosophy in a manner that is genuinely novel. The thesis will be presented as two components: a creative work and a dissertation. The creative work will be a substantial and significant work that embodies a sustained answer to the research question. The dissertation will define the purpose and theoretical basis for the creative practice, drawing on examples from the relevant literature.

Project Title: Imagining Australia in Asia

Outline: This project investigates long-form writing responses to recent transformations in mobility and migration. It is five years since the Labour government nominated this as 'the Asian century' yet Australia still feels culturally distant from Asia. How might Australia be re-imagined in the new economic and cultural order? Will Australia become 'hybridised'? The thesis will be presented as two components: a creative work and a dissertation. The creative work will be a substantial and significant work that embodies a sustained answer to the research question. The dissertation will define the purpose and theoretical basis for the creative practice, drawing on examples from the relevant literature.

Project Title: Literary Geographies

Outline: How can creative writing be used explore the complex relationships between place and literature? How does location shape literary production? How do place-stories contribute to a shared sense of identity? This project might include a consideration of regions and how they produce and in turn are produced by narrative. It may use practice-based creative research, textual analysis and applied techniques such as in-depth interviews and book group methodology to elicit understandings of the ways in which people understand and interpret place-based stories.

Project Title: Narrative poetry as nonfiction medium

Outline: What can the poetic line do that the prose sentence can’t? How can we merge the ‘language of information’ (i.e. facts) with the ‘language of art’ in new ways? How can poetic forms and devices be employed to write of historical subjects and events so that how we write of the past reinvigorates that past as lived literary experience? This project will explore and interrogate the

poetic medium as a valuable means through which to access new dimensions—performative, historical, philosophical—in writing (about) real world subjects.

Project Title: The novel now: problems with notions of the fictional

Outline: This project responds to recent trends in the book industry, specicially in contemporary literary fiction, that self-consciously question or re-invigorate the form of the novel through complicating the line between fiction and non-fiction. Is there a problem with artifice in contemporary literary fiction? If so, why now? The thesis will be presented as two components: a creative work and a dissertation. The creative work will be a substantial and significant work that embodies a sustained answer to the research question. The dissertation will define the purpose and theoretical basis for the creative practice, drawing on examples from the relevant literature.

Project title: Poetic sovereignties

Outline: This project investigates modes of sovereignty expressed in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authored works. Its main focus is on print literature (nonfiction, poetry, memoir, fiction), but does not exclude writing for screen and stage. The project aims to explore the political and poetic possibilities of story and language, including Indigenous language revival and maintenance, through the printed page and/or its public performance. This project is premised on two propositions. First, that sovereignty does not have an exclusive relation to the nation-state. This restricted view of sovereignty masks other forms of authority in relation to law and lore such as the sovereignty never ceded by Indigenous communities. Second, that literary/creative works authored by Indigenous writers articulates and performs sovereignty by means of which publics are formed that are key to the task of recalibrating settler-Indigenous relations.

Project Title: The role of play in leading Australian research practice

Outline: The premise of this project is that play is a crucial aspect of discovery, and its influence on research practice is significant and poorly understood. Informed by creative-practice approaches to research in the Creative Arts this project links creative practice literature with scholarship on the philosophy of play for the first time and applies this new critical framework to qualitative data on how leading Australian researchers approach key research problems. What is the role of play in the creation of new knowledge? The project will seek to inform research policy frameworks that actively foster contingency, possibility and the unforeseen.

Project Title: Un-real writing

Outline: This project investigates how long-form writing can respond to reality in non-traditional ways. Through experimentation and play, artists contribute to ongoing cultural conversations, exploring and extending existing forms and nascent practices – such as spec-fic, slipstream, and Weird Fiction. How does a literature of the Anthropocene conceive present, past and future? The thesis will be presented as two components: a creative work and dissertation. The creative work will embody a substantial and significant contribution to this research area. The dissertation will define the purpose and theoretical basis for the creative practice, drawing on examples from the relevant literature.

Project Title: Australian Stage and Screen Stories

Outline: This project responds to the current, ongoing and ‘real world’ issues in the Australian stage and screen industries. Crusades such as the Make it Australian campaign – and the more specifically targeted Gender Matters initiative – suggest significant challenges to creating Australian stories intended for theatrical or screen production. The project investigates the notion of ‘Australian story’ with a particular interest in marginalised voices. Drawing on RMIT’s international reputation in script writing practice research, the project takes a creative practice approach, with the development of a uniquely Australian play or screenplay informed by, and responding to, the evolving concerns of the industries in which it is theoretically situated.

Application and enrolment process

Follow this process for applying and enrolling into a postgraduate research program in the School of Media and Communication.

Contact

HDR Program Coordinator
Dr Stephen Gaunson
stephen.gaunson@rmit.edu.au

Administrative enquiries
mediacommhdr@rmit.edu.au

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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