Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Dot Dumuid

Main Campus
City East

Applications Close
05 Oct 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (Domestic & International)

About this Project

Help support the wellbeing of adolescents 

If you are seeking to develop your career in epidemiology and interested in supporting the wellbeing of adolescents, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a project-based PhD within the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA). 

Moving from primary to secondary school is a universally experienced, important and challenging life-course transition. Most students encounter difficulties with peer relationships, bullying, self-esteem and external support networks during the transition. But for some students the disruption to wellbeing is profound, with ongoing academic, social, and mental health consequences in late adolescence and beyond. 

There is limited evidence on how the primary to secondary school transition impacts students’ wellbeing, and even less evidence to help educators and support staff identify students who may benefit from additional support.  

We do not know how school-related factors such as staff-to-student ratios, region (rural/urban), or subjective measures, such as school connectedness and belonging, impact the student experience. 

Our project will use state-wide census data from the annual Wellbeing Engagement Collection (2017–2023) of all government schools in South Australia to track the wellbeing of students across the primary–secondary transition.  

We want to identify how student wellbeing changes across the primary to secondary school transition, and trends over time. Then, we aim to explore the sociodemographic determinants of how student wellbeing is impacted by the transition from primary to secondary school and determine how school-related factors influence student wellbeing across the primary to secondary school transition.  

You will be located within ARENA and also within the Fraser Mustard Centre for Educational Research Translation which has a unique partnership with the SA Department for Education. This will ensure that you have continuing access to the data required to complete the project, and continuing access to end-user needs and perspectives to guide the research and its translation. 

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will primarily perform secondary data analyses using existing large, population-based datasets. Your aim is to help establish an evidence-based framework to design and create school-based programs to support student wellbeing across the primary to secondary school transition.  

You will engage with the a youth advisory group to ensure data are interpreted appropriately and findings are translated in a meaningful and effective manner. You will also engage with the SA Department of Education who curate the Wellbeing Engagement Collection data and who will be the primary end-users of the research. 

You will have opportunities to present project findings at international conferences. This will help build your communications skills and abilities and provide you with the chance to garner feedback and start building your academic and professional networks.  

Where you’ll be based 

You’ll be based in the ARENA research centre. ARENA investigates the role of exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle activities in improving clinical and health outcomes. Physical, psychological and sports performance in populations is studied across a wide cross-section of society, ranging from children to elite athletes and people with chronic disease. 

Our research focus ‘Healthy lives through healthy living’ centres around the grand challenge of tackling the growing epidemic of chronic diseases. We focus on real-world issues and bring bold ideas to create solutions which optimise health, function and wellbeing. 

Our mission is to be the leading Australian voice on a global stage by championing research in exercise, nutrition, preventative health and other lifestyle behaviours across the lifespan. In fact, we are well on the way to achieving this – currently ranked in the World Top 50 for Sport Science. 

We work with diverse research partners, end-users and our communities to identify and evaluate solutions, and translate these outcomes into products and changes in policy and practice. 

Supervisory team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. 

All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our City East Campus in the heart of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Thursday, 5 October, 2023

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

IMPORTANT: This site is optimised for the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome. Note that earlier versions of any browsers mentioned are supported, but likely to demonstrate slower response times.

By choosing to continue, you agree to the privacy policy. Show Privacy Policy

Research and industry

Other projects you may be interested in

Latest news


If you wish to develop your own project please review our guidelines and contact the Graduate Research Admissions team if you have any questions. 

Contact us