Higher Degree by Research Application Portal

TitleDesert People Project
CourseDoctor of Philosophy
Project opportunityDesert People: Australian Perspectives

The Desert People Project brings innovative science and Indigenous knowledge together to develop new understandings of the 60,000-year custodianship of Australian deserts.

The archaeology focuses on the Ningaloo coast, Pilbara and Western Desert. This region is experiencing expansion in resource extraction, energy production and tourism.

This globally significant human record is poorly documented and at risk, as seen in the recent loss of Juukan Caves. The Desert People programme works with Traditional Owners and uses novel techniques to document places of the highest value for their management and protection.

We invite applications for four PhDs on the Laureate Fellowship project Desert People: Australian Perspectives led by Professor Peter Veth and funded by the Australian Research Council and UWA. We are interested in candidates carrying out research on the following themes:

1) investigating and correlating stratified open and rockshelter site data from varied locations across the coast to the interior with a particular focus on geoarchaeology; 

2) studying the record, nature and role of plant grinding and processing technologies from key sites across north-western Australia; 

3) studying regional patterns of lithic sourcing, transportation and artefact production using geochemical fingerprinting techniques; 

4) palaeoenvironmental reconstructions from archaeological sites using faunal, botanic or sedimentary records. 

Candidates with a background in these themes will be well positioned for success. The PhD candidates would be working with a vigorous cohort of four postdoctoral fellows based at UWA Archaeology and the University of Wollongong OSL Dating Laboratory, another PhD based at Waikato University Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, 10 specialist research collaborators from around Australia, and up to 10 Aboriginal partner organisations from the north-west.

It is expected that extensive and supervised remote fieldwork will be carried out for three months a year with the Desert People team involving engagement with Traditional Owners and Rangers on their Country.

Aboriginal and TSI Archaeology
Opportunity statusOpen
Open date01 Nov 2023
Close date15 Dec 2023
Research areaHistory, Heritage and Archaeology
Earth Sciences
Environmental Sciences
Indigenous Studies

A strong record of Honours level research in a suitable discipline such as archaeology, archaeological science, palaeoenvironment, palynology, anthracology and/or geochemistry

Citizenship statusDomestic
Enrolment statusFuture student
How to apply

Please email the following documents directly to CI Professor Peter Veth (peter.veth@uwa.edu.au):

(1) A cover letter outlining your suitability for the position;

(2) A copy of your academic transcript; and

(3) A brief CV including your contact details and two referees 


CI, Prof Peter Veth (peter.veth@uwa.edu.au)

Project Manager: Dr Chae Byrne (chae.byrne@uwa.edu.au

Scholarship details
Scholarship typeStipend scholarship
Scholarship valueAUD $35,000 per annum
SchoolSchool of Social Sciences
Course typeDoctorates
Desert People Project