Libraries and Social Inclusion: Re-Reading the Past to Inform Future Policy

School of Humanities and Communication Arts

Lead Researcher: Professor Simon Burrows

About the project

The Digital Humanities Research Initiative (DHRI) based in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University is the oldest and largest research cluster in Australia dedicated to interdisciplinary Digital Humanities research and teaching. Since its establishment in 2013, the DHRI has rapidly become an international leader in collaborative Humanities research, and has particular strengths in Immersion Technology; Media and Communication; and Global Digital Heritage.

As part of the University’s commitment to an international project on ‘Libraries and Community Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic’ funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), we are able to offer a research scholarship for a highly motivated PhD candidate wishing to work on a project entitled: ‘Libraries and Social Inclusion: Re-Reading the Past to Inform Future Policy’.

This project will investigate the ways in which the social, physical and digital infrastructures of libraries mediate social inclusion, in a comparative project that connects carefully chosen case studies and diverse readers across time and place. The research will have a particular focus on Western Sydney, a linguistically and culturally diverse region with significant migrant communities and pockets of social deprivation.

The successful candidate will be part of an international research initiative and have opportunities to draw on the expertise available in the ‘Libraries and Community Formation’ team, which comprises eight investigators, two post-doctoral researchers and nine impact partner institutions in Britain, the US and Australia, including the State Library of New South Wales, as well as the University of Liverpool (UK), where the project is based.

This is one of two doctoral scholarships awarded to the DHRI by the Graduate Research School in support of the AHRC Libraries and Community Formation in the British Atlantic project.

What does the scholarship provide?

  • Domestic candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000(AUD) per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.
  • International candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000(AUD) per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs. Those with a strong track record will be eligible for a tuition fee waiver.
  • A relocation support package of up to $3,500 for out of state or $7,000 for international candidates, provided by the School of Humanities and Communication Arts.
  • Support for training, conference attendance, fieldwork and additional research costs as approved by the School of Humanities and Communication Arts.
  • Access to further support from external partners on the Libraries and Community Formation project. The University of Liverpool has committed to fund travel and accommodation for the successful candidate to participate in the project conference in Britain in mid-2022. The State Library of New South Wales has offered visiting scholar status, designated work space and other forms of in-kind support and expert advice.

International candidates are required to hold an Overseas Student Health Care (OSHC)(opens in a new window) insurance policy for the duration their study in Australia. This cost is not covered by the scholarship.

In light of COVID-19 travel restrictions and international state and border closures, provision exists for the successful candidate to commence study whilst overseas or out of state and/or to defer their start date.

Eligibility criteria

We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds, who are keen to apply their skills to key issues in library and book / cultural history and the early history of a key Australian cultural institution. In particular, the project is suitable for candidates with strong interests in one or more of the following areas: library studies, book history, public or institutional history, Australian history and/or literature.

The successful applicant should:

  • hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, (iii) Research Masters degree, or (iv) equivalent overseas qualifications.
  • demonstrate strong academic performance in subjects relevant to library studies and/or book history or cognate areas.
  • be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.
  • show willingness to participate in the intellectual life of the Digital Humanities Research Group and the wider University.

Note: Whilst knowledge of digital research methods may be an advantage, it is not a requirement of the scholarship or the research programme. However, ample opportunity and support will be available to develop skills in this area and participate in the life of the DHRI.

International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency.(opens in a new window)

How to apply

Follow the step-by-step instructions on the how to apply for a project scholarship(opens in a new window) page.

  • Note: You do not need to complete 'Step 5: Submit an online application for admission' when applying for this scholarship. You must complete 'Step 6: Submit an online application for a project scholarship'.

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered.

For questions and advice about the research project, please contact the Lead Researcher;
Professor Simon Burrows:

For questions and advice about the application process, please contact the Graduate Research School:

Applications close 31 August 2021

*Applications close at 11.59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).

Scholarship reference code: 2020_022_SoSHCA