HDR Scholarship - Young people’s learning in digital worlds: the alienation and re-imagining of education

Applications now open

A PhD scholarship is available in the School of Education, Faculty of Arts and Education. The PhD student will initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Young people’s learning in digital worlds: the alienation and re-imagining of education' led by Prof Julian Sefton-Green and Dr. Eve Mayes. The successful applicant will be based at the Melbourne Burwood Campus. Opportunities for one additional scholarship may also be available.

Research topic

This project is about developing a study on young people’s development and learning in digital worlds and draws on interdisciplinary perspectives, therefore potentially building on the candidate’s previous studies in media and communication studies, youth studies, learning, education, digital citizenship, and cultural studies. In recent years, the destabilizing, convergent and all-encompassing transformations brought about by digital technology in every aspect of our lives, at home, at play, in government and of course at school and university have shaken these cultural narratives about what being educated means to the core. These emerging digital modalities offer young people the possibility to form alternative spaces to gain control over their own development and learning, relatively removed from (mainstream) gatekeepers and guardians and to engage in online ‘interest communities’ developing alternative forms of expertise, and gaining new identities. At the same time there are concerns that these new digital spaces threaten, surveil, control and exploit young people.

The student will work with Professor Julian Sefton-Green and Dr. Eve Mayes from Deakin University, as well as international collaborator Prof. Dr. Mariëtte de Haan from Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Project aim

In this context of fast-changing engagement in, with and through digital technologies, this research project asks the question: how are young people re-conceptualizing contemporary cultural narratives of learning?

The question explores the forms and modes of learning that take place while young people engage in digital life to search for ways to pursue a new norm of what being educated is; and how that understanding of what being educated is, plays a role in more general existential self-concepts (of what being or becoming is) in the digital age.
The project will focus on those spaces that young people create for themselves online to learn outside of, or relatively removed from, established, mainstream spaces for learning and identify those young people working and learning in new communities that by necessity establish new norms for learning, either through discomfort with and alienation from older traditions or through the affordances of new technologies.

As norms of education are bound up with national imaginaries, the project will take place in in two different countries, the Netherlands and Australia, both modern economies, and both firmly at the centre of global flows, migration and networks.

Value and duration


  • A stipend of $27,082 per annum tax exempt (2018 rate)
  • For international students only: Tuition fee and overseas health coverage for the duration of four years.

STIPEND Duration

  • 3 Years

Important dates

Opening date


Closing date


Eligibility criteria

This scholarship is open domestic and international candidates.

Applicants must 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 entry pathways to higher degrees by research for further information.

Additional desirable criteria include:

  • Excellent writing skills.
  • Excellent social and communicative skills, and willingness to collaborate.
  • Excellent research skills: experience with independently carrying out empirical research, experience with qualitative research (conducting interviews, qualitative analysis), preferably also experience with quantitative research.
  • Disciplinary knowledge and/or affinity with the following fields: digital media, youth studies, learning sciences, education, social anthropology, digital citizenship and cultural diversity.
  • Willingness to engage in international research (international travel).

How to apply

Please refer to the how to apply for a research degree page for application information.

Further information

If you wish to discuss your research interests and project proposal before applying, please contact Prof Julian Sefton-Green via email or phone +61 3 924 68863.