Program Page

The Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA) boasts the largest Pacific-focused Higher Degree Research (HDR) program in the world. 

DPA offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Master of Philosophy (MPhil). The Department has a vibrant community of researchers pursuing some of the most important research questions relevant to Melanesia and the broader Pacific. We consider our HDR students an integral part of our community. The Department has more than 30 higher degree research students, most of whom are PhD candidates, and often come to the program with experience in Pacific universities and research organisations, development organisations and consultancies, and national governments. 

DPA offers supervision and training of the highest quality to equip HDR students for careers as independent thinkers and world-class researchers. We provide a supportive environment that encourages students to pursue rigorous and innovative research, to undertake in-country fieldwork, and to share ideas with other students, staff members and visiting fellows. 

Entry into the HDR program offered by DPA is highly competitive. The Department welcomes applications from graduates with excellent academic records and with degrees in political science, anthropology, geography, law, development studies, gender studies or other relevant fields. Prospective students must be willing to conduct fieldwork-based research in at least one country in the Pacific Islands region. Interdisciplinary and comparative research perspectives are encouraged. Before applying, please look carefully at the profiles of DPA academic experts and ourresearch themes to ensure that DPA is best suited to your study goals and research interests. 

The program consists primarily of independent research by the student on a topic developed in consultation with the supervisory panel. In addition, there is a requirement to undertake relevant coursework, particularly in research methodologies. In order to complete the program and graduate, each student must produce a thesis incorporating the research conducted during the program. 

The Higher Degree by Research (HDR) handbook is a good reference for more details about academic milestones. 

Meet HDR students

Get to know some of our past and present students.

Henrietta McNeill

Telusa Tu'i'onetoa

Dr David Oakeshott (alumni)

Dr Eliorah Malifa (alumni)

How to apply

For detailed information on the application process, please go to the link below.


To contact the Department of Pacific Affairs regarding the higher degree research program, please email: