The Australian Catholic University (ACU) is offering one (1) full-time PhD scholarship to conduct doctoral research as part of an Australian Research Council Discovery Project, ‘Populism’s Heartlands: Place, Identity, and Localism in Populist Politics’ (DP230100001, 2024-2026).

This project investigates how populism intersects with localism through in-depth empirical study of locations associated with populist parties – ‘populist heartlands’ - in Australia, Germany, and Spain. We invite applications for PhD projects related to one or more of the following topics:

  • Populism and localism
  • Local politics and the far-right
  • Localised resistance to populism
  • Australian populist politics
  • Local government and the threat of disinformation in cities 

The successful candidate will be based in the National School of Arts and Humanities (NSAH) at the Australian Catholic University and supervised by Associate Professor Benjamin Moffitt and Dr Rachel Busbridge. Associate Professor Moffitt is a world-leading authority on populism and Dr Busbridge has published extensively on local government and urban politics in some of the world’s leading journals. The successful candidate will receive mentoring from both supervisors and have the opportunity to co-publish research with all Chief Investigators of the ARC grant.

About the scholarship


Study mode and location

  • Full-time, internal, on-campus, for up to 3.5 years, commencing in the second half of 2024.
  • Preferably based at ACU Melbourne but will consider applications for ACU Sydney or Brisbane.

Value and duration

The successful applicant will be awarded:

  • An ACU PhD Scholarship of $32,192 per annum (indexed annually) for up to 3.5 years, subject to satisfactory progress and full-time study mode; and
  • An ACU Tuition Fee Scholarship valued at c. $30,000 per annum, subject to satisfactory progress and full-time study mode.
  • A single Overseas Student Health Care Policy and a Relocation Allowance (up to $2,000) for international candidates.

PhD eligibility criteria

To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must submit all documentation required for an application to the PhD program at ACU, as detailed in the ‘How to Apply’ instructions.

Scholarship criteria


The scholarship is available for a high-performing candidate in political science, sociology, or political geography or cognate discipline who is interested in populism, localism, and the far-right. We will also consider related topics.

Essential requirements:

  • Background in political science, sociology, political geography or cognate discipline
  • Interest in populism, localism and/or the far right
  • Excellent English written and verbal communication skills

Desirable skills:

  • Experience in writing peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Skills in qualitative data analysis (Nvivo, etc)
  • Skills in quantitative data analysis (SPSS)
  • Professional experience in local government

The scholarship conditions align with the ACU Research Training Program Scholarship Policy.

Why choose ACU?

Australian Catholic University is a world-leading research university and has strengths in arts, humanities, and social sciences. Research excellence at ACU is founded on the principles of social justice and attracts leading experts, students and collaborators from across the globe. According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, ACU is ranked in the top 100 Young Universities worldwide. In the most recent Excellence in Research for Australia assessment, research at ACU was ranked above or well-above world-average for 10 fields of research in Australia, including political science, sociology, and history.

Explore research and enterprise at ACU

How to apply

Applications close: 11:59pm (AEST), Friday 28 June 2024

To be considered for these scholarships, applicants must submit all documentation required for an application to the PhD program at ACU, as detailed in the ‘How to Apply’ instructions, plus:

  • A 2-page CV detailing relevant academic and practical experience;
  • A 1-page cover letter detailing demonstrated interest and/or experience in the program of research described; and
  • A 1500-word writing sample (i.e. from Honours/Masters thesis or published work).

Interested candidates should contact Dr Rachel Busbridge before submitting an application for the PhD program and this scholarship.


For general candidature enquiries, contact candidature services

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