Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Professor Stefanie Dühr

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
03 Mar 2024

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. (2024 rate) available to domestic and international applicants

About this project

Develop urban and regional planning solutions for urban water management challenges

If you’re keen to pursue a career in urban planning and interested in addressing water management issues, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering an important project-based PhD with real-life impact, in partnership with the Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Urban development in Australia is continuing along unsustainable paths, contributing to urban sprawl, impermeable surfaces and destruction of natural habitats, which can exacerbate rainwater runoff and high-water events. There is a need to better understand current approaches to, and potential for, suitable urban planning approaches to water management to support adaptation to climate change effects. 

Uncertainty over climate change effects in the long term and the mismatch between natural ecosystems and administrative boundaries not only highlight the need for quality spatial data but also for policy coordination across different government tiers and departments, and political boundaries. 

Your PhD research project should analyse current approaches to providing water hazard information for climate change adaptation and its use in urban planning and development processes in different Australian jurisdictions. The empirical focus will be on Australia, but international experiences may provide important context. 

You will work with urban planning and water management researchers across the UniSA Creative and UniSA STEM Units. You will also become a member of and have access to the expertise and knowledge of both the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and the Sustainable Infrastructure and Resource Management research concentration. Exposure to and experience with world-class leaders in their field will increase your job prospects and employability. 

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will undertake qualitative and / or quantitative research to analyse approaches to adaptive urban planning processes for water management, such as in relation to policy frameworks, the spatial data to inform policy development, and planning practices.

Upon completion, you will possess extensive knowledge on water management approaches in urban planning across Australia, and will be able to contribute to the academic and policy debate on the availability and use of environmental data in urban planning and development processes. 

The research focus is Australia-wide and might require interstate travel. Desk study research should also include international examples on climate adaptive urban planning. 

You will be co-supervised by a team of academic supervisors from the University of South Australia and an officer from the Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), who will be able to facilitate your access to policy-relevant information and knowledge. Depending on your final research proposal and focus of analysis, it may be possible to undertake a placement with the Department.

This is a highly topical research project that will gain more relevance in the years to come and your expertise will be in high demand in academia, and the government and private industry sectors.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based within UniSA Creative, which brings together the disciplines of urban and regional planning, architecture, art and design, journalism, communication and media, film and television and the creative industries.

Creativity is at our core. Students learn by doing, crafting in specialist studios, constructing in purpose-built production facilities, always working with the latest technology. Our research explores the complexities of the world around us. We engage in future-focused, cross-disciplinary research and consultancy to produce inspired solutions that are human-centred and sustainable.

Supervisory team

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW)
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. 

Applicants should also submit a full research proposal (approximately 2500 words). Applicants are invited to discuss their research ideas and draft proposal with the principal supervisor Professor Stefanie Dühr. A template to help guide this proposal is available here.

Additionally, applicants must meet the project selection criteria: 
  • Hold a qualification in urban and regional planning or a related discipline relevant to the project topic
  • Experience with qualitative research methods (desk study analysis, policy document analysis, stakeholder interviews etc.) and experience with using relevant software packages for qualitative analysis, such as NVIVO
  • At least a basic knowledge of spatial analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mapping software to be able to assess current data and mapping approaches in use in urban water management planning
Applicants who can also demonstrate the following will be highly regarded:
  • Knowledge of other planning systems and other languages to inform international benchmarking will be an advantage
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 West 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 Sunday 3 March 2024.

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.

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