School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Potential Research Topics

The School has a wide range of research expertise in the field of Public Health and Health Services Management. Research candidates seeking to undertake a PhD, Masters by Research or Master of Philosophy can look for potential research topics through the following resources:

Student Thesis Titles

Social Research

Global Health

SPHCM Research Expertise

Infectious Diseases Epidemiology

SPHCM Research Projects

Indigenous Health

Academic Research Profiles

Primary Health Care

SPHCM Biennial Report



Potential PhD Projects for students

Phd Opportunity - CBRNe Emergency Response in Health Care Systems

Emergency Medical Response system performance and optimisation in high risk, high consequence CBRNe scenarios – Hybrid Modelling in 3D environments

A PhD opportunity is available for an independent and self-motivated Australian domestic postgraduate student with a background and strong skills in Computing Science or Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. This project is supported by Leidos Australia Pty Ltd, a leading international provider of CBRNe defensive, medical, civilian response and military response systems, the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW Sydney, and the Faculty of the Built Environment at UNSW Sydney.

Supervisory Team: Associate Professor David Heslop (School of Public Health and Community Medicine), Professor Sisi Zlatanova (Faculty of the Built Environment), Professor Chris Pettit (Faculty of the Built Environment)

Applicants: Please send a short cover letter, a current CV with two academic referees willing to comment on your experience in conducting research independently, and the PDF results from the HDR Self Assessment tool ( to Assoc Prof David Heslop ( no later than 14th September 2018. Candidate interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis as soon as applications are received – early application is strongly recommended..

pdf  See project details


Applying mathematical models to estimate the impact and cost-effectiveness of vaccination programs

We are seeking expressions of interest to undertake a PhD in mathematical modelling of infectious diseases. The proposed PhD would apply mathematical models to predict the impact and cost-effectiveness of vaccination programs. These estimates are becoming a vital part of decision making process for many governments when considering the funding of vaccination strategies.

The PhD candidate will have opportunities to work with leading experts at UNSW and internationally, and to submit a number of peer-reviewed publications during their candidature. The infectious disease group at the school are a multidisciplinary research team that includes mathematicians, health economists, epidemiologists, clinicians and policy experts. We have extensive expertise in the evaluation of vaccine preventable diseases and have collaborations with key international institutions.

Applicant: We seek outstanding prospective PhD candidates with strong applied mathematics or statistical skills and a keen interest in applying these to important scientific and policy questions. It is not essential that the applicant have experience in infectious diseases but potential candidates should have a first class Honours degree or Masters degree with excellent grades.

How to apply: The supervisors will support any selected prospective candidate to apply for competitive PhD scholarship via UNSW, with options for domestic or international students. Those meeting the initial criteria who wish to discuss further should email A/Prof Anthony Newall ( with a CV and copies of academic transcripts for all prior degrees.


NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarships 2019 (PhD or Research Masters)

Screening mammography and over-diagnosis of breast cancer

A well-qualified supervisory team is interested in contacting possible applicants for a NHMRC postgraduate research scholarship on the above subject to commence in 2019.

In Australia (NSW), over-diagnosis of breast cancer associated with screening mammography has been estimated to be 30-42%. However, in other population screening settings, screening-related over-diagnosis of breast cancer appears absent, including in New Zealand. Breast cancer is determined by a pathology finding, and the absence of evidence for breast cancer over-diagnosis in New Zealand may be related to differences in how pathologists classify a lesion as a cancer in Australia compared to New Zealand. Pathologists in Australia and New Zealand belong to the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia. As part of pathologist continuing medical education, College members regularly partake in testing, and thus it should be possible to ascertain whether test results of pathologists involved in appraising breast tissue differ substantially according to whether they work in New Zealand or Australia. This comparison may explain the strong evidence for over-diagnosis occurring in Australia, but not in New Zealand. The research project involves obtaining past College pathology test results of breast tissue (de-identified except for age, sex, country of residence Australia/New Zealand at the time of the test, and other specified variables), and comparison of rates of classifying test sample lesions as invasive breast cancer between Australian and New Zealand-based pathologists.

How to apply: Please contact Professor Richard Taylor before applying and send in an 1 page CV.