Vacation Research Scholarships

Are you an undergraduate student curious about research?

Do you want to find out whether doing research in your field of study is your future career direction?

If you are in your second, third or honours year and have a strong academic record, a Vacation Research Scholarship may be for you.

The aims of the vacation research scholarship are to:

  • encourage outstanding UniSA students who may be interested in exploring or wish to pursue a higher degree by research
  • provide the platform to learn about the principles and practices of undertaking research
  • stimulate students’ interest in research and to interact with students and staff who are actively involved in research
  • gauge the research aptitude of the successful applicants

The scholarships give you the opportunity to earn $300 a week undertaking research for up to 8 weeks with experiences UniSA researchers between December and February. The scholarships are offered annually, and applications close 13 September 2019.

How do I apply?

For more information about the scholarships and how to apply click here.

You must contact the project supervisor to discuss the project prior to submitting your application. The project supervisor is required to provide a supporting statement and approve your application. Applications will not be accepted without the approval of the project supervisor.

Vacation Research Project Descriptions

School of Art, Architecture & Design


Project Title

Project Description

Where do Australian planning graduates work, and which competences and skills do urban and regional planners require in the 21st century?


Keywords: urban planners, outsourcing, competences of planners

Project Summary: In an era of declining capacities of public authorities, many planning tasks are being performed not by government agencies but by private sector companies or consultancies. This project will seek insight into the changing labour market of graduates from Australian urban and regional planning programmes, and on the implications of 'outsourcing' of planning tasks for planning for the benefit of society as a whole. The project will also review the skills and competencies which urban and regional planners require in a changing labour market.

Contact person and details: Professor Stefanie Dühr

Metropolitan strategies in pursuit of sustainable development: planning policy and challenges of implementation

Keywords: sustainable development, metropolitan strategies, metropolitan governance, coordinated urban growth, policy outputs

Project Summary: This project will analyse how far metropolitan spatial strategies in Australia have incorporated sustainable development objectives. Within the context of planning reforms and changing competences for the implementation of urban planning policy in many Australian states, the project will further explore the challenges for implementing integrated spatial policies for sustainable development in capital city regions.

Contact person and details: Professor Stefanie Dühr

Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP), School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy

Project Title

Project Description

New approaches to early intervention and prevention of child abuse and neglect in South Australia

Australian Centre for Child Protection



Keywords: child protection, early intervention

Project summary: Recent estimates have identified that one in four South Australian children are reported to child protection services by age 10, highlighting a need for new and innovative approaches for responding to children and families with multiple and complex needs. A range of projects are being undertaken within a broad program of research focused on identifying opportunities to intervene as early as possible with families to reduce and prevent child abuse and neglect.

The student(s) would contribute to one or more of these projects by assisting with a range of activities including reviewing literature or policy documents, data collection and data analysis using quantitative and qualitative methods. The student(s) would contribute to work that underpins significant reform to child protection systems.

The student(s) would be co-supervised by Dr Sarah Cox, Olivia Octoman and Jenna Meiksans with support from senior staff at the ACCP.

Contact person: Jenna Meiksans / Ph: 8302-1222

School of Creative Industries

Project Title

Project Description

Communicating the outcomes from end-user research using video

Centre/Institute: CP3: Creative People, Products and Places

Keywords: Research Impact; Cultural and Creative Industries; End User Research; Research Videos

Project Summary: Digitisation has fundamentally affected the way research is both produced, used and collected (Finch 2012). With increased policy emphasis on research impact and in an age of greater accountability and demand for open access to the results of publicly funded research, it is vitally important for university research and researchers to have effective means by which to make available their findings to those in policy writing positions (Nutley et. al., 2007). As part of UniSA’s role within the ARC-funded LIEF (Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities) ‘Linked semantic platforms for social & physical infrastructure & wellbeing’ grant, we are undertaking end-user research interviews that involve video-recording how user’s negotiate the APO’s (Analysis and Policy Observatory) ‘Cultural Policy and Creative Industries’ collection. How to maximise through improved communication tools the impact of university research is a key focus of this ARC LIEF project. To this end, for this summer scholarship we are seeking Media Arts students who can work with the research team to devise innovative and creative ways to edit and present the video material generated in these interviews for maximum research impact.

Contact person and details: Professor Susan Luckman / Ph: 8302-4152

Creative Data Visualisation: Representing Craft Work in Australia

Centre/Institute: CP3: Creative People, Products and Places

Keywords: Employment; Data Visualisation; Statistics; Visual Communication

Project Summary: The first stage of the ARC funded Discovery Project ‘The Value of Craft Skills to the Future of Making in Australia’ involves working with UK partners including the Craft Council to replicate in Australia the statistical mapping of the impact and prevalence of craft work across the nation. This will draw upon data sets from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) including 2016 Census data, as well as data available on Australian Business Number (ABN) registrations, and the methodological knowledge generated by previous mappings of Australia’s creative workforce (in particular Higgs and Lennon 2014). The custom data sets emerging from this will provide firm evidence of the economic (including employment) contribution of making across all sectors of the Australian economy: in craft businesses, in other creative industries and in wider industries.

A public report for release online internationally will be produced to present the findings from this stage of the project. For this vacation scholarship, we seek students keen to develop their visual communication skills through exploration of cutting-edge data visualisation. Successful candidates will work under the supervision of the project Chief Investigator Professor Susan Luckman and be involved in discussions with international partners. They will contribute to the production of a professionally produced public report that will demonstrate data visualisation best practice, as exemplified by initiatives such as those led by The Guardian. It is hoped this will be a valuable learning experience and portfolio item for students keen to work in the growing area of research data visualisation.

Contact person and details: Professor Susan Luckman / Ph: 8302-4152

Social theory, Mobilities, and the robotics revolution: EU and Australia perspectives

Centre/Institute: Hawke EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence

Keywords: Social theory, Mobilities research, European Union, Australia, Sociology, Robotics, Technology

Project Summary: This project, based in the Hawke EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and in the School of Creative Industries, aims to investigate the interchange between social theories produced in Australia, the EU and other contexts. The prospective student will get to work with Dr Eric L. Hsu and Professor Anthony Elliott, alongside other researchers based in the Hawke EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence who are undertaking research on recent social transformations relating to people’s mobility and technological practices. The student will be expected to provide research assistance on commissioned book projects, and other scholarly publications. The student will also have the opportunity to gain work experience in a EU supported research centre which oversees multiple projects funded by the Australian Research Council, the European Commission, and other funding bodies.

Contact Person and Details:
Dr Eric L. Hsu
e:  Ph:8302 1836

School of Education

Project Title

Project Description

How first-in-family males transition to and experience Australian university


Project Summary: Males from low socio-economic backgrounds remain severely underrepresented in higher education, and significant gaps exist in our knowledge of how these students experience university life. This project provides the first detailed account of how gender, ethnicity and social class impact on Australian males from low socio-economic backgrounds as they transition to university. Despite an emphasis on widening participation in the Australian university sector, the path to university is still precarious, particularly for first-in-family students. The project uses mixed methods to better understand the experiences of first-in-family males entering universities in different locales/institutions across Australia. This project draws on data from 42 participants located in the northern suburbs of Adelaide and the western suburbs of Sydney. Many different ethnicities and religious affiliations are part of the project.

Contact person and details: Dr Garth Stahl

Examining the professional placement experiences of Australian pre-service teachers in Shanghai international schools: The nexus between ‘East’ meets ‘West’


Centre/Institute: Research for Educational and Social Inclusion

Keywords: intercultural understanding, professional experience, teacher education, identity work, ‘East-meets-West curriculum’

Project Summary: The aims of the longitudinal research (2017-2020) are:

  1. 1. to investigate the professional placement experiences of our domestic pre-service teachers (PSTs), teaching in four of the Shanghai Xiehe schools;
  2. 2. to examine how the Chinese and Expatriate teachers teaching at Shanghai Xiehe schools play their role as ‘host mentor teachers’ to the Australian PSTs; as well as, impacting on how our PSTs develop inclusive and differentiated pedagogies to meet the diverse needs and backgrounds of students (e.g. diverse socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicity, and English Language acquisition).

Following the initial interview analysis of both the Chinese and Expatriate teachers conducted at the four schools in Shanghai, and focus group discussions and individual journals of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Australian PSTs; the research team has identified some initial themes with regard to the impact of ‘East-meets-West’ Pioneer initiatives in the four Shanghai schools. So the student researcher will assist in analysis of data and/or literature review in the field of the international professional placement experiences of pre-service teachers (PSTs) and how such international placement experiences impact their development in intercultural, inclusive and differentiated pedagogies to meet the diverse needs and backgrounds of our Australian culturally diverse students.

Contact person and details: Dr Hannah Soong / Ph:8302-6631

The effectiveness of Self-Regulated Learning prompts: The literature review

Teaching and Innovation Unit

Centre/Institute: Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L)

Keywords: self-regulated learning, learning analytics, prompts, nudges, literature review

Project Summary: Self-regulated learning - defined as the ability to regulate one's behaviour, emotions, cognition or aspects of the context during a learning experience -has been highlighted as one of the key factors for successful learning outcomes. With the growing use of educational technology and the development of student-centered pedagogical approaches, the ability to regulate one's learning behaviour has become even more significant. Previous research has demonstrated that learners often do not adequately regulate their learning, either because they have insufficiently developed self-regulatory skills (availability deficiency) or because they fail to properly use their skills in the given learning situation (production deficiency). In this regard, contemporary research argues for the importance of providing external facilitation of the learning process in the form of instructional scaffolds that would help students develop and/or activate their self-regulatory skills, especially in the context of online learning. Prompting is an instructional scaffold for activating learners’ knowledge, strategies or skills. The existing literature almost unanimously confirms the ability of prompts to promote self-regulated learning. However, the reported studies vary in terms of the theory of self-regulated learning the prompting approach was based upon, the kinds of prompts that were used (e.g. generic or directed), conditions for their presentation (e.g., time, task, or previous activities), and whether prompts were the only instructional scaffold or one of the applied scaffolds. Therefore, it is difficult to frame a coherent picture regarding the overall prompting model - in terms of the timing, form, and the content - that can benefit learners’ self-regulation. This project, therefore, involves a systematic literature review aimed at summarizing the existing research on SRL prompts. We aim at bringing a coherence in understanding the different types of prompts and their efficiency in improving various aspects of self-regulated learning.

Contact person: Dr Srecko Joksimovic / Ph: 8302-7843

A review of an institutional strategy


Teaching and Innovation Unit

Centre/Institute: Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L)

Keywords: data analysis, quantitative research, learning analytics

Project Summary: The UniSA Digital Learning Strategy aimed to provide the foundations for the development of more flexible learning and teaching practices that support to students to be productive professionals in a digital age and develop academics to be leaders in the digital learning experience. This project examines how courses and program offerings have changed since the introduction of Digital Learning Strategy. Specifically, the aim is to answer how course design has changed with respect to the tools and modules being used; how assessment has been modified; what skills and competencies have been introduced and measured; or how student attainment has improved. The dataset for this project includes log data extracted from the learning management system, as well as course and assessment descriptions.

Contact person: Dr Srecko Joksimovic / Ph: 8302-7843

Measuring learner online engagement within UniSA Online courses


Teaching and Innovation Unit

Centre/Institute: Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L)

Keywords: data analytics, web application development,

Project Summary: The goal of this project is to improve the current approach for measuring student online engagement across UniSA Online courses. The prospective student will work on developing a new web application for tracking student engagement within UniSA Online courses. At the moment, measuring and reporting on student engagement is done using MS Excel documents and this project would allow more continuous and fine-grained insights into student learning. Key skills required are Python and Django web development and basic knowledge of database technologies.

Contact person: Dr Vitomir Kovanovic / Ph: 8302-7377

Supporting Children’s Oral Language Development: The impact of pedagogical innovation and inquiry

Centre/Institute: Research in Educational and Social Inclusion

Keywords: child language, early years, oral narrative, speech

Project Summary: Stage 1 of this larger project involves analysing samples of children’s recorded talk, with the aim of creating oral language profiles for child participants in a pedagogical intervention project. These speech samples will have been recorded at eight schools, with children from preschool to year 3. The scholarship holder will be trained in methods of language analysis and will use these methods to work on transcripts of children’s spoken narratives and expositions. The analysis will seek to investigate correlations between child demographic factors (including gender, language background and SES) and aspects of spoken language competence. This analysis will feed into the project’s second stage in which teachers at project sites will be carrying out pedagogical interventions aimed at improving aspects of child oral language. The project has capacity for one or two scholarship holders and would suit students in the fields of Education, Linguistics and Communication.

Contact person: A/Prof Sue Nichols/ Ph:8302-4225

School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy

Project Title

Project Description

The Neuroscience of Bullshit

Centre/Institute: Centre for Cognitive and System Neuroscience.

Keywords: False memory, sleep, predictive coding

Project Summary: This project aims to investigate the effects of sleep on the generation of false memories, and whether sleep facilitates or inhibits the incorporation of false material into memories through predictive coding mechanisms.

Contact Person and Details: Dr Alex Chatburn

Artificial grammars and IAF

Centre/Institute: Centre for Cognitive and System Neuroscience.

Keywords: rule based learning, IAF

Project Summary: Can we determine differences in model updating based on individual differences in the EEG? How do individual differences in resting state EEG predict patterns of thought, memory and learning?

Contact Person and Details: Dr Alex Chatburn

Subliminal mind control

Centre/Institute: Centre for Cognitive and System Neuroscience.

Keywords: IAF, attention, memory

Project Summary: Can we bias attention and introduce false memories into people’s minds without them realising?

Contact Person and Details: Dr Alex Chatburn

Memory Transfer

Centre/Institute: Centre for Cognitive and System Neuroscience.

Keywords: Sensory/perceptual integration, statistical learning

Project Summary: This project aims to determine the impacts of sleep on cross-modal sensory stimuli and statistical learning.

Contact Person and Details: Dr Alex Chatburn

Cognition and healthy ageing

Centre/Institute: Cognitive Ageing and Impairment Neuroscience Lab, within the BBB Research Centre

Keywords: ageing, brain, cognition

Project Summary: Vacation Scholars will work across a number of projects, all of which are focused on healthy ageing and cognition. Activities can include study conceptualisation, pilot testing, data collection and data analysis; within original research projects along with systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Scholars can select activities and projects they are most interested in; please get in touch to discuss possibilities. Please see our lab webpage to understand the range of projects:

Contact Person and Details: A/Prof Hannah Keage / Ph: 8302-4340

Visual illusions and Virtual Reality

Centre/Institute: Centre for Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience (CCSN) and Body in Mind (BiM)

Keywords: visual illusions, body perception, virtual reality, proprioception, body representation

Project Summary: Over the last six years a machine called MIRAGE has been used extensively to test people’s ability to locate their limb in space during a compelling illusion called the Disappearing Hand Trick ( Recently we started testing people living with persistent pain in order to verify the role played by self-localisation disturbances in specific conditions. A portable version of the machine would speed up the data collection and allow for efficient testing of participants during their routine visits to health professionals or even directly in their home. Together with programmers based at Mawson Lakes Campus, we developed such a portable version of the illusion by using a pair of virtual reality (VR) goggles. This project will compare the effect of the original version of the illusion with the new VR version.

Contact Person and Details:
Dr Valeria Bellan 
e: Ph:8302 4298

Organise your own project

Name and contact


Areas of interest

Dr Hannah Soong

School of Education

International students, lived experiences of migration, social and class mobilities of individuals and families, Asian culture, international higher education, intercultural understanding.

Dr Eric L. Hsu 

School of Creative Industries

Sociology; Social theory; Mobilities research; Science and technology studies