HDR Scholarship - Conspiracy Theories and the Propagation of Misinformation in the Muslim World

Applications now open

A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Conspiracy Theories and the Propagation of Misinformation in the Muslim World'.

Project Supervisor

Associate Supervisors


Melbourne Burwood Campus

Research topic

The PhD candidate will work with Prof Ihsan Yilmaz, Prof Greg Barton and Dr Matteo Vergani to conduct research on the dynamics and critical elements involved in effective strategic communication campaigns to counter conspiracy theories and the propagation of misinformation (‘fake news’) in the Muslim world.

This PhD project builds upon, and contributes to, an established research agenda about how to effectively prevent political polarization, hate and violence in the Muslim world. There now exists a large body of research on how conspiracy theory and ‘fake news’ narratives are generated and how they propagate but comparatively little research has been undertaken on effective counter measures. This subject is of considerable importance because of the extensive harm caused by such narratives in incitement to hatred and violence.

Integrating approaches from Political Science, Political Psychology and Sociology, this project will contribute to understanding how to address misinformation and conspiracy theories using a combination of qualitative case-studies and experimental quantitative techniques in small-scale settings. The PhD candidate is strongly encouraged to undertake research in the contexts of Indonesia and/or Turkey, and to consider the relationships between offline and online environments. This means that, ideally, the candidate has the capacity to conduct research in either Indonesian or Turkish.

Project aim

Conspiracy theory narratives can undermine social cohesion and contribute to political polarization by feeding hatred and extremism. They are effectively exploited by extremist movements to aid in recruitment and radicalisation. Scholars have widely investigated and published on why and how people believe in conspiracy theory narratives and how they are propagated, both online and off. Yet, understanding of effective counter-measures intervene to counter and prevent the spread of conspiracies remains limited. Across the globe, scholars have been calling for more empirical and experimental studies on this topic, to inform public policies and social interventions.

This PhD research project will make a vital contribution to advance the understanding of this theoretical issue through building an evidence-base for policy makers and practitioners. This evidence base will relate directly to conditions within one or two of the world’s largest and most dynamic Muslim-majority nations, Turkey and Indonesia, but is expected to have broader applicability in other Muslim-majority societies. The research will involve analysis of narrative data collected from online platforms together with work conducted in small-scale quantitative experimental settings. Research on Indonesia will also involve field work in Indonesia but, in light of current political and security conditions, research on Turkey will be done remotely.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Saturday 15th June 2019.


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $27,596 per annum tax exempt (2019 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate or overseas
  • International students only: Tuition fee and overseas health coverage for the duration of 4 years

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be a domestic or international candidate
  • 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.

How to apply

Please apply using the expression of interest form


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Prof Ihsan Yilmaz via email.

Prof Ihsan Yilmaz
Research Chair in Islamic Studies and Intercultural Dialogue
Email Prof Ihsan Yilmaz
+61 3 924 68542