Cancer Culture: PhD opportunity in History or Public Health Humanities

PhD opportunity in Public Health Humanities at the University of Melbourne

Expressions of Interest are called for a PhD Scholarship with the Cancer Culture project

We are seeking applications for a PhD position in an interdisciplinary public health humanities project to commence at the start of 2023. The PhD is supported as part of an Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP210100204: “Cancer culture: understanding the historical links between research, advocacy, policy and behavioural change in Australian anti-cancer campaigns”, a collaborative project involving researchers from the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, Flinders University and Cancer Council Victoria (CCV).

The successful candidate will be enrolled at the University of Melbourne, either in the School of Historical & Philosophical Studies or in the Melbourne School of Global and Population Health (depending on focus and disciplinary background), and benefit from a joint supervisory team comprising project leaders from these two Schools as well as from the industry partner, CCV. A PhD stipend will support the candidate for 3.5 years full-time candidature.

Research Proposal

This is a rare opportunity to receive training from leading university and NGO-based scholars and to help establish the new interdisciplinary field of public health humanities. The PhD candidate will be a meaningful part of the first historically-informed public health study of anti-cancer campaigning in Australia focused on tobacco control and skin cancer prevention.

The successful applicant will have the opportunity to develop an original, complementary project under the supervision of project scholars and with support from the broader team, which includes historians, public health researchers, lawyers, and communications and advertising experts. Our team can work with potential candidates to develop a focussed thesis topic. One could, for example, explore the impact of Australian tobacco control advocacy strategies in the South Pacific through the lens of long-time tobacco control advocate Harley Stanton, who from the early 1970s to 2010 worked with CCV campaigners to promote tobacco control across the region, where there were high rates of smoking and less opposition to Big Tobacco power. CCV holds Stanton’s personal papers. Other projects might consider aspects of the commercial determinants of health (unhealthy products; political and market practices and processes that contribute to ill-health); global connections and lessons surrounding Australian cultures of sun and skin cancer; or the interaction between cultural ideas about disease and public health messaging.


$34,013 p.a.

Timeline and Process

Please complete the following Expression of Interest no later than 9 September 2022. This should be sent to project director Professor Andrew May:

Your Expression of Interest should be a single PDF and include the following:

  • A cover letter that sets out why your skills, background and interests make you a strong candidate for this position (no more than two pages).
  • A statement of your intended PhD project reflecting the requirements set out above (no more than one page).
  • An updated CV
  • Academic transcripts
  • A writing sample (e.g. thesis chapter) (no more than 15 pages)

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed. One applicant will be selected to receive this award for commencement in 2023, contingent on the successful submission of a full application for admission to the PhD program.

Applicable Study Areas

Historical Studies, Public Health Humanities / Medical Humanities, Health Policy


Applicants for this scholarship should preferably be residents or citizens of Australia due to COVID-19 limitations, and should meet the relevant Faculty’s minimum entry requirements for graduate research degrees. If applying through the Faculty of Arts you need to meet the entry requirements for the full-time Doctor of Philosophy – Arts at the University of Melbourne and have received a minimum result of first-class honours in the qualifying degree. If applying through the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences you need to meet the requirements as detailed at:


Professor Andrew May: