Research Strengths

As a genuinely comprehensive faculty of humanities and social sciences, we boast research strengths across the breadth of our disciplines - including in Applied Economics, Archaeology, Art Theory and Criticism, Communications and Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Econometrics, Historical Studies, History and Philosophy of Specific Fields, Linguistics, Literary Studies, Performing Arts and Creative Writing, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology. All of these disciplines have been independently assessed through the 2012 ERA process as ‘above world standard’. Those that received the highest rating (‘well above world standard’) include:


Our archaeologists are unearthing the treasures of the past both around the world and in our own backyard. Current projects include ongoing work at key sites in Southeast Asia (particularly at Angkor Wat), Central and West Asia, digs at notable locations from the classical world (including Ancient Paphos in Cyprus, Pella in Jordan and Zagora in Greece), as well as important discoveries at Tasmania’s World Heritage Listed Port Arthur convict site.

Cultural Studies

This multidisciplinary field draws strength from important research strands in media and culture studies, gender and sexuality studies, critical race studies, visual culture, postcolonial theory and everyday life studies. Our groundbreaking research includes such projects as Professor Annamarie Jagose’s Orgasmology (Duke University Press), which challenges conventional notions surrounding our understanding of orgasm, from the rich interdisciplinary perspective of sexuality studies.

Historical Studies

Our expertise in this field spans an exceptionally broad spectrum of historical research. Significant research contributions have been made in several key areas, including ancient history, classical studies, Chinese history, Australian history, Medieval, early modern and modern European history and the history of the United States. In 2012, the prominence of our work was in evidence with sixteen of our researchers receiving highly competitive ARC grants. Our historians have also been awarded some of the discipline’s foremost honours, including the American Historical Association’s 2012 Award for Scholarly Distinction.

Literary Studies

Spanning both ancient and modern languages across a myriad of cultures, our researchers in Literary Studies cover themes in European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages, as well as English. Areas of particular strength include early modern and medieval literary studies (incorporating Anglo- Saxon and Old Norse), nineteenth-century and modern literary studies

Philosophy and History and Philosophy of Specific Fields

Offering one of the most comprehensive Philosophy programs in the Asia-Pacific region, our philosophers have been recognised for excellence in areas that include the philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, feminist philosophy and the history of philosophy (particularly early modern philosophy). Our philosophers are also involved
in a range of collaborative projects, including the History and Philosophy of Science, the new Charles Perkins Centre for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and classical studies.

Political Science

The dynamism of political science research in our faculty is evidenced in this field’s impressive growth in recent years and its consistently high rankings in international league tables. Significant contributions have been made in comparative and Australian politics, political theory, public policy and international relations. Our faculty has also been at the forefront of burgeoning research in important emerging fields, such as non-traditional security studies, democratisation and human rights, migration studies and environmental politics

Emerging Research Strengths and Research Training

As well as taking pride in our heritage, our faculty embraces a future-focused outlook that recognises the value of cutting-edge research. Our scholars are involved in a number of interdisciplinary and cross-faculty projects within the University of Sydney. Working with other faculties, we have invested in research ventures across the faculties of law, business, education and social work, as well as broader university-wide fields such as science and public health.

Our researchers occupy a prominent place in new collaborations such as the University of Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC). Led by the Centre’s inaugural Director, Associate Professor Michele Ford (Indonesian Studies), this is Australia’s premier centre for interdisciplinary academic research and regional engagement in Southeast Asia.

Our faculty is deeply involved with the multidisciplinary China Studies Centre, which under its new Director, Professor Kerry Brown, has grown to become a leading hub for scholarship and commentary on Chinese culture, politics and language. We are also major contributors to the University’s new Charles Perkins Centre, which is addressing the major challenges of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in innovative ways by bringing together scholars from the
humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and life sciences to seek effective solutions to some of the world’s biggest killers. And we continue to develop research initiatives that bring together the strengths of the humanities and social sciences in new ways - for example, through the ‘environmental humanities’, as well as security studies and the media

The diversity of our research enables us to offer an unparalleled intellectual community for our higher degree research students. Academic staff in the faculty supervise research students from around Australia and the globe, who are able to work across a wide array of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences and draw on the expertise of some of the leading scholars in the world in their fields.