HDR Scholarship - Connecting to Marine Parks through VR

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Connecting to Marine Parks through VR'.

Project Supervisor

Associate Supervisors


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

Research topic

Temperate Marine Parks in South-east Australia are more inaccessible than other marine parks meaning many people have limited knowledge of these environments and their conservation value. Using new and existing scientific data, including seabed maps and biological surveys, we will transform people's connection, understanding and value of temperate Marine Parks through immersive augmented and virtual reality experiences (AR and VR). Utilising an inclusive, consultative co-design methodology, we will invite input and participation from key stakeholders to ensure final products are relevant, appropriate and reflective of diverse scientific, social and cultural perspectives. Through collaboration with industry, tourism, indigenous and community stakeholders, we will evaluate the impact of experiences on the community and build knowledge on how to foster pro-ecological worldviews and sustainable behaviours for the long-term conservation of Marine Parks. This project will focus on Apollo Marine Park as a case study and window into the wider network.

The AR and VR experiences associated with this project will be created by the Deakin Marine Mapping Group (DMMG) and Fika Entertainment, a subsidiary of Deakin University. These resources will be globally accessible via a central website which hosts all content, and will be available to local communities via a roadshow of immersive, interactive installations at coastal and other festivals around the state.

The appointed PhD candidate will be part of an interdisciplinary team, with experts from VR development, marine and ecological science, conservation social science, and environmental anthropology, and the industry partner, Seafood Industry Victoria. The candidate will have close contact with the team over the two years of the project, and beyond to the completion of their PhD candidature (three years).

Project aim

The research associated with this PhD involves input into the development of the AR and VR experiences, and is primarily concerned with capturing and assessing the impact of the experiences on public understanding, connection and conservation values and investment in the South-east MPAs.

The project includes three stages:

  1. Marine data collection: mapping of the seabed and biological surveys in Apollo MPA to extend previous work;
  2. Immersive virtual experience development: development of resources to translate and extend the marine data collection to engage communities to understand and value South-east MPAs; and,
  3. Evaluation of experiences: investigation of community and stakeholder connections, understanding and values of temperate South-east Marine Parks and evaluation of how public perception is influenced by virtual and extendable narrative experiences.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Monday 1st February 2021


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,600 per annum tax exempt (2021 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate currently residing in Australia
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

Additional desirable criteria include:

  • Applicants should have an interest and experience in studying environmental conservation attitudes, and be attuned to the to the complex nuances of conservation politics and expression as captured in the social science literature.
  • Applicants should have an interest in AR and VR technology as an avenue for better understanding and progressing conservation attitudes and behaviours.

How to apply

Interested applicants should contact via email Dr Tanya King before applying for the project. Applicants invited to submit a full application should follow the instructions on the How to apply page.

Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Tanya King 

Dr Tanya King
Senior Lecturer In Anthropology
Email Tanya King
+61 3 522 72149