Defence against the Dark Arts Top Up Scholarship

About this scholarship

The University of South Australia has a PhD scholarship available for students to conduct research into online social media manipulation. The research will investigate the level of social manipulation and seek technical and other methods to detect and manage it.

The web offers great scope for freedom of expression, enabling constructive political discourse and social manipulation alike. Social manipulation in the 21st century is remarkably sophisticated, having a global reach on multiple platforms with easily-identifiable interest groups, giving propagandists unprecedented access to many targets in real time, almost as a “people search engine”.

True democratic processes can only function when the population clearly understands issues; social media manipulation is a form of propaganda that works against such understanding and circumscribes human dignity and freedom by exploiting cognitive biases. This project works to resist online social manipulation with novel technologies to detect and expose perpetrators of fake news, disinformation and propaganda in social media.
This PhD scholarship would be ideal for a student who has an interest in data analytics methods as applied in a social media context.

The successful candidate will work with A/Professor Helen Ashman from the Data Analytics Laboratory at the University of South Australia.

This scholarship is funded by the .auDA Foundation to support applied industry research by the University of South Australia in the area of social media.


The scholarship is open to domestic PhD students. The scholarship would be most suited to a research student with an interest in social media and data analytics; some programming capabilities; and an honours level computer science, engineering undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification


The top up scholarship provides $7,000/annum over 3 years.

How to apply and closing date

The scholarship will remain open until filled.

For further details and applications please contact Helen Ashman:

p. 08 8302 5335



Areas of study and research

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