Sociology and Anthropology

Why a PhD or Research Masters in Sociology and Anthropology at Newcastle?

Sociology illuminates human behaviour by looking for the links between individual experience and the social context in which we live, work and play. Its central concerns involve questioning common sense views and personal opinion by asking you to consider the social influences that shape our lives. A sociological imagination questions the way things are, in order to think about the way things could be.

Anthropology is the study of humans and cultural differences, from the past to the present. To understand the full extent and complexities of cultures, and cultural understandings across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences, the humanities and physical sciences. A central concern of anthropologists is the application of knowledge and experiences to the solution of human problems.

Criminology is the interdisciplinary study of crime, justice, and the criminal justice system. Criminologists attempt to understand the complex and fluid inter-relationship between offenders, victims, and the systems of social control and power. Criminologists come from many areas of social and physical sciences, and work in a diverse range of positions – from academics to police officers, lawyers, corrective services staff, court officers, and social services.

World-class research

PhD and Masters by Research students will benefit from a supportive network of world-class researchers.

The University of Newcastle's Sociology is rated as 'world standard' by the Australian Research Council's (ARC) Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). It was also ranked in the top 200 globally by QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Discipline members contribute to a number of UON's research groups, including:

What you can research

The sociology discipline at University of Newcastle has identified research strengths in health sociology, youth sociology and economic sociology. However, project enquiries are welcome for all related topics outlined by the supervisor's research areas below.

Research methodologies

Researchers in Sociology and Anthropology employ the following methodologies in their research: Semi-structured,

  • structured
  • in-depth or narrative interviews
  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • visual methods
  • ethnography
  • figurative methodology
  • discourse analysis
  • mixed methods
  • participant observation
  • document analysis
  • narrative analysis
  • multidimensional attitude measurement scales
  • causal modelling
  • network analysis
  • policy analysis
  • documentary and historical analysis
  • program evaluation
  • the social life of methods
  • non-representational methods
  • feminist methodologies

Find a supervisor

Before you apply, contact a supervisor for discussion on possible research projects. This will allow you to frame your proposal to align with established disciplines and areas of supervisor capacity.


  • Dr Hedda Askland: social anthropology; community and identity; diaspora and exile; social, environmental and political change; development; youth
  • Dr Daniela Heil: social and cultural anthropology; medical anthropology; political economy of health; Indigenous health and wellbeing; body, personhood and self; surrogacy


  • Dr Xanthé Mallett: criminology; gendered crime; miscarriages of justice; media and crime; forensic anthropology; evidential evaluation


  • Professor Lisa Adkins: economic sociology; social theory; feminist theory; cultural theory; sociology of gender; sociology of labour
  • Professor Pam Nilan: youth, popular culture and gender in Australia and the Asia Pacific
  • Dr Caragh Brosnan: health and illness; medicine; complementary medicine; bioscience; professions; professional knowledge and education; higher education
  • Dr Julia Coffey: sociology of health; youth studies; sociology of gender; sociology of the body; identity
  • Dr David Farrugia: sociology of youth; rural and regional sociology; sociology of space and place; homelessness
  • Dr Seyed Abdolhamed Hosseini Faradonbeh: Global alternatives; Social movements including youth movements (esp. in the Middle East); Intersectional inequalities; Global crises (food, fuel and finance) and their impacts on local lives; youth political identity; cosmopolitanism, transversalism, open-mindedness; globalization, globalism, and alter-globalization; Muslim minorities; ethnic relations; eco-sufficiency, eco-centric and sustainable development in the Global South; socioeconomic statues, marginalisation, identity, and social capital among Immigrant communities (with stress on younger generations)
  • Dr Terry Leahy: food security; rural; development; sustainable agriculture; permaculture; Africa; Indonesia; environment and society; public perceptions
  • Dr Kathleen McPhillips: psychoanalysis and culture; religion and gender; sainthood and cultural theory; sociology of mental health; theories of post-secularism
  • Dr Ann Taylor: sociology of health and gender; professions, midwifery and childbirth; primary health care; qualitative methods
  • Dr Steven Threadgold: youth sociology; class and inequality; youth transitions; youth culture; popular culture; Pierre Bourdieu; reflexivity and youth subjectivity; moral panic; consumer culture; risk and risk society
  • Professor Penny Jane Burke: sociology of gender and higher education access; equity and widening participation; lifelong learning; critical, Freirean and Feminist pedagogies; Feminist and participatory methodologies; social justice and higher education

How to apply

Current Graduate Studies in Sociology and Anthropology

There are a number of research projects being undertaken by graduate students in the areas of Sociology and Anthropology at Newcastle. Take a look some of the current topics:

  • The Philippine Social Economy: A Case Study
  • Hunter Business Leaders Response to Climate Change
  • Considering Child Protection in Australia Beyond the Neo-Liberal Frame
  • The Mental Health Experiences of Early Retired Males in the Hunter Region
  • On the Streets: Youth Street Art in Yogyakarta as a Contemporary Assemblage
  • The Politics and Experience of Contemporary Motherhood
  • Moral Panics and Intergenerational Conflict
  • Queer Women in Australian and UK Punk Spaces