Applications for this PhD have now closed.
Location Western Sydney University, Graduate Research School
App. deadline 10/01/2018
  • Scholarship available
Project ID 2018-061
Eligibility Open to international applicants

Research Theme PhD Scholarship - Health & Wellbeing

Music Instrument Learning throughout Ageing and Cognitive Impairment

Western Sydney University is ranked amongst the top two per cent of universities worldwide. We value academic excellence, integrity and the pursuit of knowledge. We are globally focussed, research-led and committed to making a positive impact on the lives of our students.

The question of how to sustain mind and body through ageing is pivotal when considering the growing population of over 65s, internationally, as well as particularly in the Western Sydney area. Dementia is estimated to affect over 400,000 Australians in 2017. A vast body of converging evidence for the most effective way of improving the health outcomes of people at risk of cognitive impairment points towards prevention. We aim to investigate the cognitive benefits of participating in creative musical activities throughout various stages of cognitive impairment.

We are now offering a research scholarship to a highly motivated PhD candidate to work within an interdisciplinary research group addressing the efficacy and function of various components of music learning and performance in sustaining cognitive skills throughout different stages of impairment. This project will identify ‘how’ music learning can be an effective intervention for this population, and to what extent for whom. The project provides an exciting opportunity to test new approaches for music learning for the older adult population.

The project will be based at the School of Humanities and Communication Arts (Dr Jennifer MacRitchie), with strong links to NICM and the School of Science and Health (Prof Caroline Smith and Dr Genevieve Steiner), and the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development (Dr Sandra Garrido).

What does the scholarship provide?

  • Domestic students will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000 per annum to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.
  • International students will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000 per annum to support living costs. Those with a strong track record will be eligible for a tuition fee waiver.
  • International students are eligible for Overseas Student Health Cover.

Support for conference attendance, fieldwork and additional costs as approved by School/Institute.

Eligibility criteria

We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds, who are keen to apply their skills to key issues in cognitive science. In particular, the project is suitable for candidates with strong interests in psychology, health, ageing and music.

The successful applicant should:

  • hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, (iii) Research Masters degree, or (iv) equivalent overseas qualifications
  • demonstrate strong academic performance in subjects relevant to experimental design, learning, and cognition
  • have an understanding of the importance of cognitive skills throughout ageing
  • be willing to learn techniques applicable to mixed methods research and music performance analysis
  • be enthusiastic, well organised and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.

International applicants must also meet English language proficiency.

How to apply

  1. Contact Dr Jennifer MacRitchie ( to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply.
  2. Complete the scholarship application form (PDF, 222.11 KB).
  3. Compile your CV, contact information for two referees and a proposal (750 words or less) stating how your research interests and experience align with the project aims, and an outline of a PhD research program in this project area.
  4. Ensure all documentation is certified according to Western Sydney University requirements.
  5. All applications and supporting documentation must be submitted directly to the Graduate Research School as follows:
  • Use the email subject line: Application_2018_061_HACA
  • Submit to
  • All attached documents must be submitted as PDF.
  • In the body of your email, include your full name, your student ID (if you are a current or previous Western Sydney University student) and the full title of the scholarship.

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered.

Please contact the Graduate Research School via email at for more information.

Please Note: Should this listing mention details of an available scholarship, it is your responsibility to confirm the specifics with the university / institute prior to applyiing. Terms and conditions are in some cases subject to change and are not always reflected immediately within listings.

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Further Information / Application Enquiries

Ms Tracy Mills
+61 2 4736 0966

Dr Jennifer MacRitchie