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


EOI: PhD/Masters Opportunity Ironbark trial - healthy ageing for older Aboriginal people

Prof Rebecca Ivers (School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW) is seeking expressions of interest from candidates to undertake a PhD or Masters by Research on a 5 year NHMRC funded cluster randomised control trial aiming to demonstrate the effectiveness of a community based falls prevention and healthy ageing program for Aboriginal people 45 years and older. The research aims to evaluate the Ironbark program’s impact on the rate of falls; social and emotional wellbeing; independence and mobility; and strength and balance of participants. The study also includes a nested process evaluation and economic analysis.

To explore this opportunity further please send your expression of interest via a Cover Letter and CV, with any questions to Dr Rona Macniven or Professor Rebecca Ivers ph: 02 9385 3811. Applications will be reviewed as received so please apply as soon as possible.

PDF image  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.