Potential HDR projects list

Administrative law and refugee protection

Potential projects include:

  • Topics that explore legal issues related to administrative law and administrative justice (Australia/Comparative Studies);
  • Topics that explore the socio-legal issues relating to asylum seeking and refugee/complementary protection (Australia/Comparative Studies).

For further information contact Associate Professor Peter Billings, e: p.billings@law.uq.edu.au.

Aspects of law in Asia: comparative analysis

Potential topics could include:

  • Adultery law in the Philippines, Cambodia or Taiwan
  • Corruption in Southeast Asia
  • Religious freedom in Asian countries
  • Minority rights in a particular Asian nation

For further information contact Associate Professor Ann Black, e: a.black@law.uq.edu.au.

Competition law

TOPIC: ‘Parallelism and cartels: boundaries between legal and illegal collusion’

Competition law regimes of many developed countries, including Australia, have been increasing penalties for cartels and/or criminalising such conduct. This encourages entities involved in collusive behaviour to achieve consensus through indirect means to avoid a possibility to be caught by a competition authority. It is important therefore for courts and competition authorities to distinguish between cooperative oligopoly and natural oligopoly and to interpret evidence correctly.

This potential PhD thesis should/could include not only analysis of a cartel regime but also a study of the most recent (and older) economic theories and existing and potential legal theories to establish boundaries between illegal and legal conduct and argue the correctness of an approach to horizontal collusion. This topic could include a comparative study or it could even be a pure empirical study.

For further information contact Dr Barbora Jedlickova, e: b.jedlickova@law.uq.edu.au.

Corporate regulation and governance

Critically examine developments and specific issues associated with corporate regulation and governance in Australia and abroad.

Potential topics could include:

  • Comparative work with other jurisdictions: comparing Australia with, eg, the US, UK and EU, particularly the role of public enforcement of breaches of directors' duties.
  • Theories of regulation and the future of regulation.
  • The impact of the seemingly ever-expanding mandate of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) coupled with growth in the range and complexity of the financial products it has to regulate on ASIC's ability to be an effective regulator.

Dr Vicky Comino is a leading scholar on corporate regulation in Australia. She has published widely in this area. Her own PhD (2011) explored how, and to what extent, ASIC in its original and primary role as corporate regulator can achieve more effective regulation of the corporations legislation.

For further information contact Dr Vicky Comino, e: v.comino@law.uq.edu.au.

Criminal law and procedure

Potential projects could include:

  • fair trial and abuse of process;
  • sentencing;
  • the role of the jury;
  • offences and defences;
  • gender issues and criminal law;
  • race issues and criminal law.

For further information contact Professor Heather Douglas, e: h.douglas@law.uq.edu.au.

Discrimination and civil rights laws

Human rights and the struggle for equality involves fascinating political, social and economic elements.

Projects could include:

  • Laws and practices following the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • How expanded discrimination protections contained in industrial relations statutes are being influenced and influencing protections found in traditional anti-discrimination statutes.
  • Regulating and managing corporate social responsibility and duties under civil rights laws.
  • New forms of civil rights regulations; for example: Victoria is the first Australian equality law to include a general positive duty to avoid discrimination.

For further information contact Dr Paul Harpur, e: p.harpur@law.uq.edu.au

Due process

Potential projects may include:

  • ‘Fairness’ or the related ideas of due process, procedural fairness and natural justice under Australian law – whether in particular fields (eg, civil or criminal procedure) or as a constitutional concept.
  • Challenges to fairness and due process – for instance, as posed by secret evidence, closed proceedings, disproportionate outcomes, or particular fields such as national security laws.

For further information contact Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, e: rebecca.aw@law.uq.edu.au.


Enabling the disability voice in medical and public health research

The connection between disability advocates and research on the one hand and medical and public health research on the other might seem self-evident.  The disability rights movement has grown out of a movement which formed, in part, to reject the medicalisation of disability.  the social model explains that disability is created when a person in society is disabled by barriers in society.  Under the social model, a person in a wheelchair is not disabled because they cannot walk, but because building have steps and not ramps.

During the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities there was strong representation from disability person organizations who were strongly opposed to the medical industry.  This perspective can be seen in the way in which the Convention approaches the medical aspects of disability.

The consequences of these movements is that there is a disconnect between disability and medical research.  This siloing of research agendas arguably has negative implications for both fields of research.  This project calls for a PhD candidate to adopt cross-disciplinary research methods to seek avenues to find innovative solutions to help enhance advocacy and research outcomes for both fields and ultimately for persons with disabilities and society more broadly.

For further information contact Dr Paul Harpur.

Gender and ‘others’ doing the law

Potential topics available include:

  • Gender and judging – does diversity matter? What is the scope for feminist judging?
  • Questions of bias and gendered approaches to the law
  • Advocating ‘other’ interests
  • Equality of representation within the legal profession

For further information contact Dr Francesca Bartlett, e: f.bartlett@law.uq.edu.au.

International trade law

International trade law covers a diverse range of topics. Potential projects include:

  • the practice and regulation of the finance of international trade;
  • commercial letters of credit in international trade;
  • the role of the banks in the financing of international trade;
  • a comparative analysis of the UN Convention on International Sales of Goods;
  • the use of trade terms in international trade – Incoterms

For further information contact Dr Alan Davidson, e: a.davidson@law.uq.edu.au.

Judicial independence

Potential projects may concern:

  • Chapter III of the Australian Constitution.
  • Cases and principles concerning judicial independence in Australia (at state, territory or federal level) and/or elsewhere.
  • Contemporary challenges to judicial independence in Australia and/or elsewhere.
  • The principles and mechanisms by which judicial independence is protected.
  • The role and meaning of judicial independence.
  • Comparative studies in judicial independence.

For further information contact Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, e: rebecca.aw@law.uq.edu.au.

The law and theory of unjust enrichment

Potential topics available include:

  • Comparative approaches to unjust enrichment doctrine
  • Foundational theories of unjust enrichment
  • Restitution for Wrongdoing
  • Remedies for unjust enrichment

For further information contact Professor Kit Barker, e: k.barker@law.uq.edu.au.

Laws for “good governance”: transnational criminal law and international human rights law

While few people would contest the importance of values like transparency, accountability, and participation, laws to enhance governance within and between states raise many important and unexplored research questions.

Dr Radha Ivory welcomes RHD proposals on:

  • International efforts to suppress transnational crime and promote human rights
  • Domestic measures on corruption, terrorist financing, asset recovery, and corporate criminal liability, including compliance
  • International cooperation in criminal matters and targeted financial sanctions
  • Individual and collective rights, including the right to development
  • The regulation of international financial institutions, multinational corporations, and non-governmental organisations

Candidates are particularly encouraged to explore interactions between regimes.

For more information, please email r.ivory@law.uq.edu.au or call +61 7 3365 9123.

Lawyer’s ethics and professional standards

Potential topics available include:

  • Technology and ethical legal practise;
  • Advocates’ immunity;
  • The role of the lawyer in access to justice and efficient administration of the courts
  • Prosecutorial ethics and judicial ethics;
  • Regulation of the legal profession including admission and disciplinary law and debates about professionalism
  • Teaching lawyers’ ethics

For further information contact Dr Francesca Bartlett, e: f.bartlett@law.uq.edu.au.

Legal issues related to domestic and family violence

Potential projects could include:

  • use of exclusion or ouster orders in legislation and by the courts;
  • development of specific offences (stalking, torture etc) and their implementation;
  • development of defences (eg. provocation, battered persons defence) and use in courts;
  • role of the victim in charge and prosecution of criminal offences;
  • special courts and alternative justice mechanisms in domestic and family violence matters;
  • technology facilitated abuse.
  • adolescent family violence;
  • children and family violence;
  • reproductive coercion.

For further information contact Professor Heather Douglas, e: h.douglas@law.uq.edu.au.

Legal philosophy and constitutional law

  • Legal philosophy related to H.L.A. Hart or Jeremy Waldron
  • Comparative constitutional law of the English-speaking developed world
  • Democracy and bills of rights

For further information contact Professor James Allan, e: j.allan@law.uq.edu.au.

Legal pluralism: law reform and development in plural legal regimes

The issues raised by legal pluralism are diverse and wide ranging, and pose complex challenges for law reform and development. The topic explores in detail the uncertainties and tensions which arise between very different systems of law in practice. It will also examine the broader issues that occur from legal pluralism.

A top-up scholarship is offered to students who successfully secure a fully funded national or international scholarship and are enrolled through the TC Beirne School of Law to do a PhD. The project is supported by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Project centred on 'The State and Indigenous Legal Cultures’ specifically in the South Pacific.

For further information contact Professor Jennifer Corrin, e: j.corrin@law.uq.edu.au.

Maritime law

The staff of the Marine and Shipping Law Unit (MASLU) are available to supervise research projects in the general area of national and international maritime law. These include private maritime law issues (e.g. carriage of goods, international trade, maritime casualties and environmental compensation); maritime law regulatory issues (e.g. safety and environmental protection); enforcement of maritime claims (e.g. arrest, jurisdiction, security, liens, compulsory insurance); international maritime law reform (e.g. the role of the IMO, UNCTAD, UNCITRAL and CMI) and issues arising in the Law of the Sea.

For further information contact Professor Craig Forrest at c.forrest@law.uq.edu.au.

Medical law

Potential topics available include:

  • The impact of the Civil Liability Act
  • Competency to Consent to Medical Treatment
  • Duties to Disclose Medical Information
  • Disability and the Law
  • End of Life Decision Making

For further information contact Professor John Devereux, e: j.devereux@law.uq.edu.au.

A model national legal framework for mangrove ecosystem services

The ARC project

The rapid rate of mangrove loss globally is of great concern due to the critically important ecosystem services these coastal environments provide. The Australian coast is significantly lined with these plants (18%), making it important that our national and state legal frameworks efficiently manage and protect these valuable resources. This project aims to identify current legal deficiencies, and policy barriers, and canvas expert opinion to generate consensus for an innovative legal framework that recognises and protects the multiple ecosystem services provided by mangroves. It is anticipated the framework will be adaptable to provide significant benefits to other ecosystems and jurisdictions.

The PhD project

The PhD project will involve a comparative analysis of existing legal recognition of ecosystem services for United States wetlands. The candidate, in collaboration with Dr Bell-James, can determine the specific parameters of the study. 

Students will enrol through the School of Law.

Preferred educational background

  • Must have an undergraduate honours degree in law.
  • Background in science, ecology and/or conservation would be highly beneficial.

This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

For further information contact Dr Justine Bell-James, e: j.bell-james@law.uq.edu.au.

The modern law of torts

Potential topics available include:

  • State liabilities for tortious wrongdoing – Australian and comparative perspectives
  • Development of actions for the invasion of privacy
  • Tort law, common law and legislative intervention- The Civil Liability Acts
  • Remedies for Defamation

For further information contact Professor Kit Barker, e: k.barker@law.uq.edu.au.

National security law

Potential projects may concern:

  • Counter-terrorism laws and policies in Australia and/or elsewhere.
  • The longer term implications of 9/11.
  • The migration, normalisation and extension of national security laws, for example into the organised crime context.
  • The relationship between national security laws and facets of public law, such as judicial independence, federalism, representative government, open and equal justice, constitutional freedoms, and so on.

For further information contact Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, e: rebecca.aw@law.uq.edu.au.

National security law: governance and rights

Potential projects may include:

  • Public law and human rights challenges presented by national security law, particularly in Australia.

For further information contact Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, e: rebecca.aw@law.uq.edu.au.

Preventive restraints on liberty

Potential projects may concern schemes that provide for preventive restraints to be placed on the liberty of persons. Such schemes include, for example:

  • Counter-terrorism preventive detention and control orders.
  • Organised crime control orders.
  • Preventive detention of serious offenders.
  • Mandatory sentencing.
  • Restrictions on associations between members of certain groups.

Projects may consider preventive schemes from perspectives including, but not limited to:

  • Their effectiveness.
  • Their impact on traditional facets of public or criminal laws (for example, the traditional role of courts, equal and open justice, fair process, constitutional freedoms and principles, the presumption of innocence)
  • Their nature, prevalence and spread.

For further information contact Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, e: rebecca.aw@law.uq.edu.au.

Religious law and state law: legal pluralism in the Asia-Pacific region

The TC Beirne School of Law invites applications from qualified graduates to enrol in a PhD within the School that will address a selected issue concerning the relationship between law and religion, and especially state law and religious law, within the Asia-Pacific region. The issue may concern any particular religion or set of religions, and may concern any particular country or set of countries within the region, including Australia. The PhD may focus on any particular issue or set of issues that arise concerning the relationship between law and religion, but proposals that focus on the relationship between state law and religious law (as defined above) will be preferred for the scholarship.

In addition to the competitive Australian government scholarships that are available to PhD students, the TC Beirne School of Law will offer the successful applicant a top-up scholarship in the sum of $10,000 (year 1), $5000 (year 2) and $5000 (year 3).

For further information contact Professor Nicolas Aroney, e: n.aroney@law.uq.edu.au.

Revenue (taxation) law/corporations law/insolvency and bankruptcy law/elder law/law of investments

Potential projects are available relating to these primary areas of law, including interdisciplinary proposals.

For further information contact Associate Professor David Morrison, e: d.morrison@uq.edu.au.

The separation of powers

Potential projects may include:

  • Judicial independence and the separation of judicial power
  • The interpretation and application of Chapter III of the Australian Constitution
  • The appointment, tenure, removal or remuneration of judges
  • Separation of powers issues arising in particular legal contexts, such as: national security law, preventive detention, ‘bikie’ laws.

For further information contact Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, e: rebecca.aw@law.uq.edu.au.

Shariah law from a comparative law perspective

Potential topics could include:

  • Islamic family law reform
  • Family law for Muslims in secular Western nations
  • Islamic law of inheritance
  • Constitutional law in particular Muslim nations
  • The role of law in the process of Islamisation in a particular Muslim nation or region

For further information contact Associate Professor Ann Black, e: a.black@law.uq.edu.au.

Social welfare law

The PhD program provides students with an opportunity to explore in depth the effects of the law and legal systems on people experiencing social and economic disadvantage. Students could apply human rights law, citizenship principles and social exclusion theory to a number of different legal areas and problems, including:

  • laws related to housing and homelessness
  • laws that criminalise behaviours associated with social and economic marginalisation, including 'public nuisance', offensive behaviour, offensive language and begging; and
  • social security laws, including dishonesty and fraud offences

For further information contact Associate Professor Tamara Walsh, e: t.walsh@law.uq.edu.au.

Work health and safety law

Critically examine developments and specific issues associated with Australia's work health and safety laws.

Potential projects could include:

  • Implications of merging Australia's state and territory occupational health and safety regimes into a harmonised Work Health and Safety Act.
  • Protecting workers safety in non-traditional work relationships.
  • Managing work health and safety in hazardous occupations: Mines, offshore oil rigs, long hall trucking or forestry.

Dr Harpur is the author of numerous works on human rights, civil rights and workers' rights. He is regularly invited to speak domestically and internationally, and has a particular interest in comparisons between Australian and United States laws. His own PhD (2009) explored human rights and workplace health and safety in Australian based supply chains.

For further information contact Dr Paul Harpur, e: p.harpur@law.uq.edu.au.

Related links for current students

You can try out life as a researcher through short-term project work: