Institute for Health & Ageing

Student Opportunities: PhD Scholarships

Student Opportunities: PhD Scholarships

Institute for Health and Ageing

PhD Scholarship Opportunities

Institute for Health and Ageing (IHA)

IHA provides a dynamic and supportive environment for PhD candidates interested in pursuing projects with a focus on health and ageing.  The work of the Institute recognises that positive ageing does not occur in isolation, and that living long and living well depends upon a range of factors including living environments.  IHA draws on the multi-disciplinary expertise of our academics to undertake innovative and sustainable research that makes a positive difference to the lives of older people.

IHA has the following five PhD scholarships available to support domestic (Australian) candidates who examine the role of environments in promoting healthy ageing.


HABITAT banner image

Scholarships 1-3: Neighbourhood environment and ageing

IHA has three full-time PhD scholarships available to undertake research on how the neighbourhood environment influences health and wellbeing as we age.

Many studies have documented an association between the neighbourhood that people live in and their health, however we know very little about how and why the neighbourhood environment affects health.  Possible areas of research include the built environment, the social environment, transport, planning, neighbourhood disadvantage and inequity, and urban design. These (and other) factors could be examined in relation to physical activity, active travel, sedentary behaviour, diet, overweight and obesity, smoking, and health (physical and mental).

Depending on their chosen topic, research candidates will have access to HABITAT, an internationally recognised study that investigates how neighbourhoods influence health. Importantly, each research candidate’s PhD project will be flexible in scope and there is considerable opportunity to design your own program of research. These projects will be led by Professor Gavin Turrell.


City walking

Scholarship 4: Urban spaces and active ageing: understanding person-environment interactions to inform activity-friendly community design

The proportion of older adults in urban areas is rapidly growing leading to increases in health-care costs associated with chronic diseases.  This problem can be offset by creating urban environments that support an active lifestyle across mid-to-late adulthood.  Projects funded by this scholarship will identify key elements of urban environments that promote an active lifestyle in the mid-aged, fully-functional workforce as well as the older, disadvantaged segment of residents with restricted mobility.  This knowledge can inform equitable, universal activity-friendly community design suitable to all age groups.

There are a number of potential PhD projects within these extant studies.  Research candidates can choose to focus on substantive or methodological issues.  Examples of projects that could arise from the studies include:

Project 1: Age, gender and geographical differences in types and profiles of destinations promoting physical activity across mid-to-late adulthood.  This project will identify mixes of neighbourhood services and destinations that are most supportive of an active lifestyle and the extent to which they are generalizable across genders, age groups and country of residence.

Project 2: Activity spaces in mid-to-late adulthood.  This project will identify places and types of destinations where mid-aged and older adults engage in physical activity and whether these differ across age groups.

These projects will be led by Professor Ester Cerin.


The Gables - Aged care facility

Scholarship 5: Built environment and older adults’ active living

Active living is recognised as vital for older adults to reduce the risk of chronic disease, to maintain functional capacity, and to support wellbeing.  Neighbourhood and residential environments where older adults live can play an important role in active living because their activity is often constrained by contextual factors.  This PhD project will examine built environmental attributes that can assist older adults to maintain active living and functional independence.  The project may focus on neighbourhood (outdoor) or residential (indoor) environments.  The project is led by Professor Takemi Sugiyama.



These scholarships are available to domestic applicants only. Applicants must hold an appropriate undergraduate degree with Honours at a minimum level of Second Class Division A (Hons 2A) or equivalent; or a Master’s degree with appropriate research training in a relevant field; or an equivalent qualification.


The successful candidates will be supported for three years. Each scholarship comprises a tuition fee waiver, a $26,288 per annum (in 2016) stipend, and a $5,000 per annum (non-indexed) top-up.

 Scholarship-specific criteria

  • Academic excellence, including, but not limited to, academic awards and grant
  • Ability to contribute to a team
  • High level management and organisational skills
  • High level of verbal and written English proficiency
  • Knowledge and experience in one of the following fields: population health; built environment (urban design, planning, architecture); geography (including Geographic Information Systems)
  • Prior quantitative research experience and publication of research findings are highly desirable.

Study mode: Full-time

Location: The successful candidates will be located in Melbourne.

Closing date: Until suitable candidates are appointed

How to apply

Applications should be sent directly to:

Graduate Research
P.O. Box 968
North Sydney NSW 2059



For more information

Please contact relevant supervisors shown above, or

Dr David Sandall (, +61 (3) 9230 8132