Explore ANU College of Asia & Pacific research activities

Research fields

The ANU College of Asia and the Pacific has an international reputation for high quality research and a rich history of leading pioneering research on the region. Our research disciplines are consistently ranked amongst the highest in the world and we are often recognised as the leading institution in Australia where scholars can study these fields.

The College is also home to some of the world's most distinguished experts on the region. The sheer breadth and depth of their knowledge is unsurpassed in Australia and one only a few concentrations of research excellence on Asia and the Pacific across the globe.

Details of our major fields of research are provided on this page and specific research areas of our academic staff can be found on the ANU researcher’s database.


Anthropology covers the full spectrum of the human experience from our origins and life, to how we organise our societies and cultures. Whether it’s examining the role of spirit mediums in Melanesia or of peasant farmers in political rebellion, the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific provides world-class training for higher degree research in social and cultural anthropology. Our diverse faculty maintains a program focus on theoretically informed, ethnographic fieldwork in the Asia-Pacific region. Current PhD scholars are drawn from all over the world and include many from Asia-Pacific countries. Potential students should also note that fieldwork funding subsidies are available.

checklistArchaeology and Natural History

Cultural complexity and environmental diversity are the hallmarks of the Asia-Pacific region. Archaeology and natural history in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific seeks to understand the origins and trajectories of cultural and environmental change through time, spanning the first arrival of humans into the region through to the era of European contact with indigenous communities. We are a world class interdisciplinary department with state-of-the-art laboratories that are driving archaeological discovery and research innovation in the region.

checklistAsian studies

The Asian Studies research program focuses on and critically examines the rich and complex history of Asia and the growing global importance of Asia. Our scholars can approach their research from a variety of disciplines, including (but not limited to) language and literature; critical and cultural theory; creative writing; cultural studies; gender studies; media studies; philosophy; historical studies, with many  pursing a transdisciplinary approach.

Asian studies scholars also develop in-depth knowledge of the history, politics, and culture of the Asian countries they study and skills in one or more Asian languages.

Our researchers’ expertise stretches across East Asia (China, Japan, Korea), Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysian, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Timor L’Este) and South Asia (India and Sri Lanka). This breath of knowledge, combined with the diversity of disciplines, gives you the most comprehensive range of research options on Asia in Australia, and arguably the world.


It’s an exciting time of economic change in the world, with the numbers clearly stacking up in favour of the Asia-Pacific region. As the engine of the world’s global economic growth shifts firmly to the region, the Asia Pacific is set to become the world’s economic powerhouse. Economics research at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific deals with some of the key emerging issues and global trends of our time – the shift in the world’s economic centre of gravity to Asia is engaged by work on trade and economic development in China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and other Asia-Pacific economies. The College also has a strong focus on environmental and resource economics that addresses the environmental and resource pressures that result from economic growth, including climate change policy and water resources management.


The Asia-Pacific region is home to a wide range of environmental and resource management issues including climate change adaptation and mitigation, natural hazards and disasters, the social and environmental impacts of development, social and political conflict over scarce resources, just to name a few. The ANU College of Asia and the Pacific includes a group of scholars who approach these issues from a mix of social science disciplines – including economics, anthropology, geography and political science – with a view to informing public policy at regional, national and local levels.

checklistGender, cultural and media studies

Our research on gender, cultural studies and media is at the forefront of efforts to improve knowledge and understanding of the social dynamics in the regions of Asia and the Pacific.

This vibrant and transdisciplinary field of study allows you to focus on both historical and current issues. It connects insights on the transformations of gender and sexuality in Asia and the Pacific from a range of disciplines including anthropology, history, language, literature and media studies.

Our academics are world leaders in these fields and are keen to supervise research scholars. Current projects include changing ideas of gender and personhood in the Pacific; gender, development and human rights in the region; gender and religion (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism); gendered violence; political movements for gender and sexual equality; and performing arts, media and pop cultures in Southeast Asia, China and Taiwan.


Our history programs examine deep processes of change in Asian and Pacific societies, covering ancient civilizations, the turbulent encounter of Asian and Pacific societies with the West and the promises and threats of the recent past. In all our studies, we emphasise close engagement with the societies and cultures of the region as recorded in historical sources. Our students study political, social, cultural, intellectual and economic history.

checklistInternational Relations

The world is a complex place and the realm of international relations is no different. Whether it is nuclear disarmament, the role of global institutions or world peace, the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific offers students a keen insight into the realm of global politics. The College’s Department of International Relations is committed to postgraduate training of the highest quality, intended to equip scholars to pursue careers as independent thinkers and world-class researchers. We are unique in combining the general theoretical and empirical study of international politics with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. We have the capacity to support PhD study on a range of discipline-relevant topics that reflect this research nexus.

checklistLaw and Society

The relationships between law and society is a complex one that is not limited to formal policies; it can also include important issues of citizenship, cultural difference, identity, and inequality. Accordingly, the interdisciplinary field of law and society draws on pragmatic and policy-oriented concerns as well as social scientific and humanistic perspectives to examine these relationships. The ANU College of Asia and the Pacific supports a range of opportunities for students interested in studying law and society in different jurisdictions. Our research program is very active, investigating a wide variety of topics related to justice, security, and much more. Our students benefit from mentorship by leading researchers in the field.


The Asia-Pacific region is the most complex and varied linguistic landscape in the world. The ANU College of Asia and the Pacific aims to produce linguists of the highest quality, equally able to carry out linguistic fieldwork and relate it to a broad range of theoretical issues. With one of the foremost concentrations of linguists anywhere in the world, and over 50 years of experience documenting little-known languages, we have the capacity to support research on any of the more than 2,000 languages of the region, from national languages to minority languages just spoken by a few individuals.

checklistPacific studies

Pacific Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on the islands of Oceania and the Pacific diaspora. It was one of the first research areas established at ANU marking the importance of Australia's relationship with the region.

Researchers are encouraged to combine fieldwork with archival, new media, material, oral, embodied and other forms of knowledge production. Our scholars explore important historical and contemporary issues in Oceania, and critically examine the ways in which knowledge about the region, and the region itself, have been framed, constructed and represented.

Scholars develop a deep understanding of the cultural, social, geographic and political diversity of Oceania, and the richness of perspectives on it, with a particular focus on indigenous forms of knowledge and voices. They also engage with both critical contemporary academic and policy debates, including gender, climate change, globalisation, the arts, development, and peace, conflict and intervention.

checklistPolitical Science

The Asia-Pacific region encompasses great political diversity: from durable one-party regimes like China to the sprawling democracies of India and Indonesia and the tiny microstates of the Pacific. The ANU College of Asia and the Pacific contains a large cohort of world-leading experts on the politics of the region. We seek students willing to engage in cutting-edge research on Asia-Pacific politics, and can accommodate projects based in most countries of the region and encompassing most sub-fields in the study of politics.

checklistPublic Policy

Today's complex policy challenges demand insights from a wide range of intellectual traditions. At the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, PhD students in public policy have opportunities to learn from a wide range of academic disciplines – including political science, public administration, economics, geography, anthropology, area studies, and more – as they develop expertise in a particular field. Combining breadth and depth, we train students to become educators and practitioners with real impact.

checklistRegulation and Governance

Whether it's through social justice, health, human rights or economically sustainable development, governance and regulation play fundamental roles in making the world a safer and fairer place. Academics in the College's School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) undertake interdisciplinary research that promotes these interests. Our approach is grounded in fields including anthropology, criminology, environmental studies, gender studies, human rights, law, public health, public administration, psychology and sociology. We welcome PhD proposals for supervision on a wide array of topics, including, but not limited to, climate change, health equity, gender equality, investment, knowledge governance, human rights, peace building and transitional justice.

checklistStrategic Studies

War and conflict have defined world history. The 21st century promises to be no less turbulent than its predecessors as globalisation clashes with localism, new powers arise and the old decline, and the world struggles to adapt in the face of population pressure, climate change, and resource shortage. At the ANU College of the Asia and the Pacific PhD studies are focussed on understanding the complexity of the global strategic environment, Australia’s place in it, and the utility and application of armed force in international affairs. An uncertain world will demand insight, imagination, and judgement from its strategic scholars, analysts, policy makers and military professionals – find these with the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team