PhD Program

Current Research Higher Degree Candidates

Kristen Allen

Education | Professor Penny Jane Burke and Dr Anna Bennett

The stories behind the figures: successes occurring for enabling students that the data isn’t showing. Is it time to revisit the definition of ‘success’ in higher education to be more inclusive?

Standards of ‘success’ in higher education are often objectified by quantifiable data such as grades attained, units passed and degree completion. However, quantitative data can only ever provide a partial indication of success or outcomes. Qualitative enquiry enables understanding of what success means for students.

The purpose of my thesis is to explore the successes of enabling students that the numerical data does not show. It is expected that the study will reveal that defining ‘success’ in such a narrow and prescriptive manner, reinforces the notion that ‘success’ is for the elite; for those who fit within the dominant ‘mainstream’ and in affect, reproduce the very inequalities that enabling programs are attempting to address. As such, my thesis will explore why the definition of ‘success’ in higher education needs to be revisited in order to be more inclusive.

Evonne Irwin

Sociology | Professor Penny Jane Burke and Dr Anna Bennett

Condensed version coming

Matt Lumb

Sociology | Professor Penny Jane Burke, Professor Geoff Whitty, and Dr Anna Bennett

Kate Mellor

Sociology | Professor Penny Jane Burke and XX

Decolonising the ‘mind’ through (re)conceptualisations of knowledge: student engagement with Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander knowledges in higher education

I am interested in exploring questions about curricula and pedagogy through critical social theory and a decolonial lens. My research is a qualitative examination of pedagogical engagement with knowledges associated with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities in higher education. This includes understanding how these engagements shape and reshape student and staff subjectivities and community and professional practices. Deeper understandings of the interconnections between transformative education, Aboriginal pedagogy and effects on all learners are currently under-theorised in Australia (see Biermann & Townsend-Cross, 2008; Behrendt, 2012). More attention on the way pedagogic identities are (re)shaped can help to reveal how specific disciplinary knowledges and pedagogies have the potential to contribute to greater societal well-being but also to reproduce inequalities and exclusions. Given my research aims, I will argue that ‘evaluations of the quality of degrees’ must be broad enough to include social justice agendas.  It is therefore important to capture and understand the politics and effects of disciplinary knowledge and link these to wider social effects, beyond narrow productivity agendas (see Bradley Review, 2008). Also tied to this is the need to challenge and critique hegemonic knowledges and discourses about whose voices are heard and permitted to be heard in academia.

Belinda Munn

Home, Hope and the Gatekeepers of Life Long Learning

Sociology | Professor Penny Jane Burke and Dr Anna Bennett

Request blurb

Louise Rak

Social Work/Sociology ? |  Professor Penny Jane Burke and Dr Tamara Blakemore (?)

Check in - may need to add later

Sharon Smith

Sociology | Professor Penny Jane Burke and Dr Anna Bennett

(Re) Constructing the Invisible: Religious and Gendered Subjectivities in Higher Educational Spaces - Aspiration, Access and Impact

Blurb requested


Visiting PhD Scholars 2018

Amandip Bisel

Blurb requested

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.