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Sydney Research Seminar

Researching social issues in Southeast Asia

Are you interested in getting out of the classroom and applying your research skills in the real world? Join leading researchers from the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and receive partial funding to design and conduct real-world research in Southeast Asia. 

What: Sydney Research Seminar Unit: Researching Social Issues in Southeast Asia (SRSU3103). Based on inputs from seminars, readings and online modules, students will work in multidisciplinary groups to develop their own research question in relation to a particular social issue in Southeast Asia. Students will then conduct a small-scale project and use the data gathered to complete a presentation and final paper that addresses their research question. In Semester 2 2019, our focus will be on the historical, economic and political significance of Water in Singapore.

Where: Sydney and Singapore

When: Semester 2, 2019, including a field school to Singapore (8-21 December – indicative)

Who: This unit is designed for third year undergraduate students. Due to the research-intensive nature of this unit, places are strictly limited to 15 students and are by application only.

Why: This experience will allow you to apply your disciplinary knowledge and critical thinking skills to a cutting-edge research problem, as well as developing skills in research design, field work methodology, and an understanding of research ethics.

This is a unique opportunity to develop and apply your research skill in-country. It allows you to bring your disciplinary perspective to a problem, while also facilitating multidisciplinary research and learning. The research project will be undertaken in multidisciplinary groups, and you will be provided with the tools to interact between their disciplinary knowledge and that of other students.

While the projects will be small, the experience of working in another country will allow you to deepen your contextual understanding as well as developing your cross-cultural communication skills and building cultural competence.

Important information

Drawing upon SSEAC’s expertise in developing multidisciplinary in-country programs, this SRS will allow students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds to work together in researching a social concern in Southeast Asia. You are not necessarily expected to come up with a ‘solution’ to these issues; instead, this SRS is designed to draw your attention to the complexity of these issues and the overarching importance of context. This SRS will also provide you with an understanding of the basics of conducting fieldwork including how it is approached from a range of disciplines, through to ethics in the field, preparing for fieldwork and planning a field work project.

Multidisciplinary group work is an integral component of this unit. Students will work together in multi-disciplinary groups in Semester 2 2019 to develop a research question, design a research project and undertake data collection. This design provides opportunities for students to develop their team work skills as well as capitalising on the potential for students to learn from each other.

Students will then travel to the relevant country of focus with an academic, providing an opportunity to observe the real-world impacts of particular social issues on the lives of people in the region. Students will collect information relevant to the research problem and use this information, as well as other data gleaned through readings and seminars, to deliver a group presentation and an individual final paper. Students will have the opportunity to explore the context with the support and guidance of an academic who is familiar with the country, offering a chance to develop a more in-depth understanding of the local context.

The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre will contribute partial-funding to help with costs associated with your participation in this program. 

Applications for this SRS will open in line with the University’s 2019 enrolment dates. 

This SRS will run as an intensive in Semester 2 2019. The mobility component will run from 8-21 December 2019. The mobility dates are indicative only and are subject to change; however, the mobility component will certainly conclude before 24 December 2019.

Blended learning, (Online material, Seminar and in-country experience).

Online material: students will complete online modules related to conducting field research in Southeast Asia. This will cover issues such as methodological approaches, ethics, and planning, and will be targeted at a multidisciplinary audience.

Seminars: Students will attend 3 x 2-hr Seminars. The seminars will focus on key aspects of the research project. One seminar will discuss multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving, while the other two seminars will provide students with relevant background information to the chosen social issue and the country context.

In-country: Students will travel to the relevant Southeast Asian Country to better understand the context of the social issue and to undertake small-scale research projects related to their research questions. Student are required to participate in a full day pre-departure training course if travelling overseas.

Please refer to the assessment information in the Interdisciplinary Handbook.

Credit point value: 6

As an SRS, this is a stand-alone elective available from within Table S to students in a degree with access to that Table. This unit will be counted as an elective towards your degree. 

SSEAC is offering up to 20 travel grants worth $2500 each to students (of all citizenships) participating in this SRS. 

You are also encouraged to explore funding opportunities through the OS-HELP Loan scheme.

Sydney Research Seminar units are designed to run as electives, available from within Table S to every student in a degree with access to that Table. Assumed knowledge for the units will be used to ensure students have the necessary disciplinary background to excel and entry will be by special permission. While the units will not appear in diets except in the elective space, where it is appropriate, the units may be credited in the selective space for a relevant major.


Apply online now.


Image by Dmitry Syntnyk via Flickr.