Research produces new knowledge in any field and socialises it by sharing with the broader community. UWA is a research-intensive university with a strong collaborative research culture that contributes to local and global communities".
— Winthrop Professor Robyn Owens, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
UWA offers a range of services to all BPhil students to help you settle in, learn the university lingo, and have a great start to your university experience. Your UWA experience starts with the BPhil Summer Residence, a five day live-in orientation program. You’ll meet the other members of your cohort, participate in orientation activities, hear from leading researchers and meet Faculty Deans and members of the University Executive. The Summer Residence occurs two weeks prior to the start of semester 1 and is a required component of your degree. UniStart Orientation is also a great time to find your way around and meet fellow students. Get to know your University Library online or with a tour.
All new BPhil students are linked with a UniMentor during the Summer Residence to guide you through your first few weeks. Once you begin, more advice and activities are on hand in Link Week, which is held in the second week of each semester. Plus at any time, BPhil students can contact the BPhil (Hons) Coordinator who understands the issues you may face as a new student and can link you to a range of services and support to help you connect to the UWA community.
You can also volunteer to be a Mentor yourself, which is a worthwhile experience and a good addition to any resumé. Please note, to be a BPhil Mentor you need to be available to attend the BPhil Summer Residence and must complete your mentor training in October the year before.
All BPhil students automatically qualify as members of the BPhil Union, free of charge. The BPhil Union exists to represent and support BPhil students at the University of Western Australia, and is run by an elected committee of current BPhil students. They run social events during the year; join the Facebook Group to stay in the loop.
You can also become a member of the UWA Student Guild and UWA Sports Association by ticking the options in studentConnect. Stay up to date with uni events through the student events calendar and visit the Cultural Precinct, theatres & galleries to engage with the UWA arts community.
The Crawley campus offers a wide variety of services for all students, with the Guild Village at the heart of many activities. Become acquainted with UWA Campuses and Colleges through the campus map, seek health advice and make appointments at the UWA Medical Centre, learn about transport and parking, report and replace your lost Campus Card and contact Security about any safety concerns. Visit the UWA Library for Library computing, printing and IT support, and parents can make use of child care and baby change facilities.
University administration has been streamlined thanks to the newly-built Student Central located between the Guild Village, Social Sciences, James Oval and Oak Lawn, open 8.30am to 5pm weekdays. Find out about important dates, log in to studentConnect, speak to your BPhil (Hons) coordinator, acquaint yourself with the BPhil course policies and rules, and consult the Handbook for further information.
All BPhil students needing special consideration should apply to the BPhil office; please read the policy on special consideration to see if you meet the criteria, complete the form, and send or bring it to the BPhil office. For more information about services offered in BPhil, relevant workshops, seminars and other events, see your BPhil coordinator.
STUDYSmarter offers a comprehensive program to help you develop your communication, studying, researching, planning, numeracy, English language and writing skills. Sign up to the GETSmart newsletter for study advice, tips from students and reminders about events. Support and advice is also available from the Guild Student Assist team for those with academic concerns (for example appeals and complaints or special consideration issues) or for students who require advocacy and assistance.
The University Library provides resources, reference guides, spaces, research assistance and IT support as you navigate essays, group projects, reports, evening and weekend study sessions and research at UWA. You can visit the information desk in any subject library for advice and assistance on finding and referencing information, using the University’s OneSearch system and accessing the specialist software (such as NVivo and SPSS) available on some library PCs.
There are many computers available to you in subject libraries, plus Wi-Fi, and BPhil students have access to the Get It document delivery and inter-library loan service. Send documents to your print queue from any student PC or your own device and then use your campus card to print at any student printer on campus.
UWA STUDY ABROAD: The UWA Global Learning Office offers the opportunity to study overseas at one of the 130 partner institutions for one or two semesters to gain credit towards your degree, explore a world of opportunities, meet new people and experience different cultures. Options include:
STUDENT EXCHANGE: Applications for exchange close 9 months prior to the departure dates. Applications for short term programs become available all year round: see Global Studio for information on available programs.
PRIVATE STUDY ABROAD: This applies to time spent overseas that is not part of a formal exchange relationship between UWA and another university. It involves you applying directly to an overseas university and tuition fees are paid directly to that university.
If you are interested in a program that is not listed on Global Studio, please speak to the Academic Coordinator to determine its suitability. Please note the Academic Coordinator must approve ALL units studied overseas if you are seeking to credit them towards your UWA degree.
To have units from a private study abroad credited to your degree:
Study Abroad Scholarship: Scholarship applications close at the end of April (for winter and semester 2 exchanges) and August (summer and semester 2 exchanges) and applications should be submitted as early as possible. Please note, funds are usually not released until after you have departed for your study abroad experience.
UWA has facilities, services and community programs to support health and wellbeing and a study-life balance during study. Advice relating to finance for education expenses, help with emergency finance, budgeting and accessing income support, are available via the Student Finance team and also at Guild Student Assist. You may also be eligible for government assistance. The Housing Office runs a housing database plus information and advice on housing issues, including leases, tenants’ rights and responsibilities and household costs. UWA Sports has a fully-equipped gym, a wide range of group fitness classes and indoor and outdoor sports courts with a variety competitions and recreation courses. The UWA Counselling and Psychological Services provide free, confidential counselling as well as resources and group sessions to UWA students, the UniAccess team supports students with a disability or medical condition (short-term or long-term) that impacts upon their ability to study or participate in University life and the UWA Medical Centre provides comprehensive medical care (including alcohol and drug counselling, travel advice and vaccinations).
The Careers Centre provides online resources to help you develop and manage your career, plus events throughout the year including a Careers Fair, seminars and workshops. Make an appointment with a careers adviser to discuss your pathway in more detail, and use Career Mentor Link for access to professionals with industry knowledge and career experience. There are also volunteering opportunities on- and off-campus to fit your interests. To further your public speaking and leadership skills, consider joining the UWA Toastmasters Club.
James has completed majors in Accounting and Finance, and is now undertaking Honours in Economics at the UWA Business School. His social impact interests have spurred his current research on the determinants of child health disparities in China, which he is completing jointly at Peking University. James has led various volunteer roles at the education charity, Teach Learn Grow, and was appointed to the Board in 2015. He is inspired by the impact that youth can have in bridging education inequality and solving prevalent social issues. As UWA’s only New Colombo Plan Fellow, James has also undertaken part of his studies on exchange at the National University of Singapore.
Emma has loved her time as a Summer Vacation Scholar at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, and elected to continue her Honours in Pharmacology with Nigel Laing's Molecular Neurogenetics Groups. This team has nurtured her interest in genomic medicine, a discipline that encompasses disease gene discovery and the development of personalised therapies for patients with genetic conditions. She is presently investigating the CRISPR-Cas9 system as a putative genetic therapy for McArdle's disease, a rare disorder of muscle metabolism. Despite having assured entry into the Doctor of Dental Medicine program in 2017, she's also looking for research opportunities in the UK upon completion of her BPhil (Hons) degree.
Dissertation: Limitations of Beijing’s Economic Lure in Dampening Taipei’s Quest for Separate StatehoodThe relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) is embedded in a deep historical and ideological struggle dating back to the founding of modern China in 1912. After decades of separation, China and Taiwan have recently begun engaging in cross-strait economic, cultural, and educational exchanges. This dissertation will examine the extent of cross-strait economic convergence, and will analyse the implications of this on Taiwan’s desire and ability to pursue greater international recognition through meaningful participation in Inter-Governmental Organisations and effective bilateral diplomatic relations.
Why my research is important: The stability of cross-strait relations has significant implications for regional and global security, and the recent electoral success of the anti-unification Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan has generated concern in Beijing. This dissertation will contribute to a growing study of policy making, and will synthesise the most contemporary electoral and trade statistics in order to present a holistic understanding of Taiwan’s future security and economic prosperity. It will also serve to develop a better understanding of China’s economic and security interests, and to test the validity of China’s “peaceful rise” rhetoric.
Funding:UWA Fogarty Foundation City Scholarship and New Colombo Plan Mobility Scholarship
Dissertation: Analysing the determinants of cross-country income inequality.
Supervisor: Dr Michael Jetter (UWA)
Summary: Inequality has reached a turning point in history. Income inequality between all individuals in the world had been increasing since the Industrial Revolution but recently it has been decreasing, driven by decreasing inequality between countries. This dissertation explores the differences in average per capita income between countries (cross-country inequality) and aims to assess the determinants of this inequality across time. Using a methodology that calculates ‘adjusted’ Gini coefficients (Almas et al 2011), we can analyse the long-term trends in cross-country inequality after accounting for differences in proximate or fundamental determinants. We also examine the extent to which these determinants have contributed to inequality over time. The findings from this research may inform policymakers seeking to decrease inequality.
Dissertation: Changes in the Structure and Dynamics of an Antibacterial Target in Neisseria
Summary: The genus Neisseria is comprised of Gram-negative bacteria that colonise cells on mucosal surfaces. Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae are the causative agents of prevalent infectious diseases, respectively meningitis and gonorrhoea. These pathogens complete infection by synthesising specific molecules (including proteins) known as virulence determinants that evade components of the host innate immune system.
A protein’s three-dimensional structure will dictate its function in an organism. Further, proteins conformationally fluctuate, or change shape, as they execute their tasks within the cell. By elucidating the structure-function relationship of a virulence determinant protein, as well as the conformational changes that it undergoes over time, it becomes possible to design drugs that bind and inactivate the protein. In this way the mechanism for bacterial pathogenesis becomes blocked, rendering the pathogen susceptible to natural clearance by the host immune system.
An Honours project in 2016 has chosen to focus on one specific virulence determinant protein in pathogenic Neisseria. A range of molecular biology and biophysical techniques shall be employed in order to experimentally validate a computerised model of conformational movement by this protein.
This research represents one step towards the long-term goal of devising innovative ways to treat infectious diseases that venture beyond the use of traditional antibiotics. The emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria like N. gonorrhoeae has made such a pursuit especially crucial as the medical world braces itself for a post-antibiotic era. Success in this field will produce economic benefits as well, significantly reducing public health costs among the most disadvantaged regions of our world.
Dissertation: 3D haemodynamic analysis of biomechanical factors in a late gestation rat feto-placental arterial network
Supervisors: Dr Barry Doyle and Dr Caitlin Wyrwoll (UWA)
Summary: "Placental vessel development is intricately linked to fetal development and the quality of adulthood life. However, there is an existing knowledge gap in biomechanical factors know to regulate cellular processes in vessel development. Through VascLab, I have been able to combine my Mechanical Engineering and Pathology majors in a biomedical engineering honours thesis which aims to bridge this gap. My research project aims to improve current 3D image reconstructions of placental blood vessels from control and stressed rat models during pregnancy, and investigate haemodynamics and wall shear stress using computational fluid dynamics. These cutting edge measurements will allow us to better understand placental development and associated pathologies during pregnancy."
Dissertation: A novel bioinformatic approach for the identification of genes important in brain development and disease
Supervisors: Professor Alistair Forrest and Associate Professor Julian Heng (UWA, Harry Perkins Institute)
Summary: The human brain is among the most complex of all systems, and the genes important to its function (and dysfunction) have not yet been fully clarified. The recent rise of next-generation sequencing has provided a wealth of information potentially useful for disease gene discovery. My project aims to utilise this resource to predict novel genes that might be important in brain diseases, and subsequently test these predictions experimentally using sophisticated in vitro and in vivo techniques.
Why my research is important: Identifying novel disease genes is critical to improving the precision of genetic screening and thus the immediate clinical outcomes of patients. Additionally, a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms in the brain is a crucial starting point for the long-term development of therapeutics.
Dissertation: Not so far away: Can affinity alleviate intergenerational discounting in the climate game?
Supervisors: Dr Mark Hurlstone (UWA), Dr Zoe Leviston (CSIRO), Susie Wang (PhD candidate)
Summary: Climate change is a global problem, and solving it requires global cooperation. Yet in the twenty years leading up to the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris, diplomatic parties at international negotiations failed to agree on an effective treaty. My research explores a key barrier to cooperation known as intergenerational discounting—the human tendency to ‘discount’ the value of benefits for future generations, compared to benefits for ourselves. Further, it tests whether cooperation can be improved using persuasive messages designed to enhance intergenerational affinity—a sense of connection and closeness with future generations. We used a collective-risk experiment to test groups of six players, each representing countries at international climate negotiations, and their ability to cooperate and avoid dangerous climate change. Our findings revealed that reading affinity-based messages can improve cooperation between players. This has important implications for facilitating cooperation at future international climate negotiations.
Why my research is important: Avoiding the extreme effects of climate change requires global greenhouse gas emissions to be halved by the year 2050—a feat no single nation can achieve alone. International climate negotiations play a crucial role in coordinating a large-scale, multilateral response to climate change. However the success of such negotiations rests upon the cooperation of diplomatic parties from 195 nations. My research suggests that intergenerational discounting (and its damaging effect on cooperation) can be greatly reduced by creating persuasive messages centred on intergenerational affinity. More generally, my research identifies a mechanism by which to lessen this detrimental effect of intergenerational discounting on individual and group decision-making in relation to climate change.
Funding: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)