HDR Scholarship - Digital Death and Immortality

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Digital Death and Immortality'.

Project Supervisor


Melbourne Burwood Campus

Research topic

This project will create a philosophically informed ethical approach for managing the 'digital remains' of internet users who have died. Emerging artificial intelligence technologies make it possible to reuse and interact with these digital remains. This offers new ways to commemorate the dead and manage grief. Yet these technologies also threaten to exploit the dead and to change our relationship to them in troubling ways. Expected outcomes of the project include guidance for the ethical use of these technologies and policy recommendations for regulating the reuse of digital remains. This will provide significant benefits by helping Australia to avoid the ethical dangers inherent in emerging technologies of 'digital reanimation'.

Project aim

The HDR student will pursue a self-chosen thesis topic relevant to one of three structuring questions of the overall project:

  1. Identity and Survival: To what extent should reanimated digital remains be regarded as being the dead person, in what respects, and under what conditions?
  2. Memorialisation and Replacement: Can we distinguish between reanimation of digital remains as a form of memorialisation and reanimation as a replacement of the dead?
  3. Regulation: In what ways can our ontological and ethical conclusions help us craft a policy framework for governing and regulating the reuse and reanimation of digital remains?

The student's project may focus on the ontological, phenomenological, or ethical aspects of this topic, or may instead work across these approaches.

Important dates

Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed


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 A/Prof Patrick Stokes. 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:

A/Prof Patrick Stokes
Email A/Prof Patrick Stokes
+61 3 9244 3941