HDR Scholarship - Dark Political Communication

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Dark Political Communication'.

Project Supervisor


Melbourne Burwood Campus or Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus or Geelong Waterfront Campus

Research topic

The project undertaken by the successful PhD candidate will be closely aligned with a national ARC-funded Discovery project Understanding and Combatting Dark Political Communication. The research team includes Associate Professor Stephen Harrington (QUT), Professor Kristy Hess (Deakin), Dr Aljosha Schapals (QUT) and Dr Timothy Graham (QUT).

The project is based at Deakin, with support of the project team, and will play an important role in contributing to a comprehensive account of how dark political communication operates, the political figures who exploit it and understand how it is undermining our democracy. It also aims to consider the role of public interest journalism in helping to limit its impact. To achieve this, we will:

  1. Create a detailed conceptual framework and language through which to understand and describe DPC.
  2. Provide a comprehensive account of communication tactics being used in DPC, evaluate the impact of these tactics on democratic institutions, and examine their influence on political discourse and public policy.
  3. Develop practical recommendations for professional journalists on how their practice can best respond to the DPC paradigm, and help to limit its negative effects.

Project aim

This PhD scholarship is for a student with experience in journalism, media or communication to explore the topic of dark political communication; the deliberate spread of false or misleading information or stoking of social discord to gain strategic political advantage.

The project will have a specific focus on these practices in rural and regional communities or areas considered news ‘deserts’. The research build on Deakin’s expertise in local news and digital communication. The scholarship and candidacy is part of a funded ARC Linkage Project led by Queensland University of Technology Associate Professor Stephen Harrington, from the Digital Media Research Centre.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Sunday 30 June 2024


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $34,400 per annum tax exempt (2024 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 a domestic or international candidate. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • 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 email a CV and cover letter to Prof Kristy Hess. The CV should highlight your skills, education, publications and relevant work experience. If you are successful you will then be invited to submit a formal application.

Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact:

Prof Kristy Hess
Email Prof Kristy Hess
+61 3 5563118