PhD Scholarship in design and development of natural systems waste water treatment and landscape design

A PhD scholarship is available for candidates to work with land developers, water utilities and local and State governments to research the design and development of natural systems waste water treatment and landscape design.

Value and duration

The scholarship is for Domestic applicants only, and will provide a stipend of $30,900 per year. This scholarship is for three years commencing in 2018.

Number of scholarships available



To be eligible for this scholarship you must have:

  • A first class honours degree, 2A honours or Masters degree in a relevant discipline; however, equivalent experience may qualify an applicant whose cross-disciplinary skills fully meet the expectations of the position.
  • Relevant disciplines include: environmental or chemical engineering, landscape architecture, waste water treatment or community participation.
  • Well-developed writing skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary research team and with industry partners.
  • Capacity to meet RMIT University’s entry requirements for higher degrees by research, including an interview.

How to apply

Please send expressions of interest and enquiries to Professor John Fien or Professor Felicity Roddick

Expressions of interest should contain the following information:

  • a one-page summary justifying the applicant’s suitability for the role
  • an academic CV
  • transcript of qualifying degree
  • a copy of any publications, thesis or other scholarly writing

Selected individuals will be invited to an interview.

Open date

Applications are now open.

Close date

Applications will close once the candidate is appointed.

Terms and conditions

This scholarship will be governed by the Research Scholarship Terms and Conditions (PDF 327KB 10p).

Further information

Conventional wastewater treatment systems are generally located apart from the wastewater catchment, and the treated wastewater is generally disposed of, leading to loss of a valuable resource for the ecosystem and the community. The use of landscape-based systems for the treatment of various types of wastewater can overcome such problems and provide a means for improving ecosystem services and contributing to urban amenity. However, these systems are often underestimated in regard to their treatment performance and local councils and water authorities can be cautious in permitting their use. Members of the public, too, sometimes express concern about living near such treatment facilities

A PhD scholarship is available to research on of the following topics:

Design for alternative uses of water from treatment of wastewater in urban settings

Statutory water bodies acknowledge the possibility of alternative use of water after treatment to help diversify water supplies against droughts and floods. However, the feasibility of its implementation is commonly hindered by social acceptance and infrastructural legacy issues associated with the technical implementation of such systems A baseline study to establish the feasibility of implementation and public perception would establish the parameters for a strategy for alternative use.

Research questions include: How might the range of possible uses of water from treatment of wastewater in the urban setting be assessed? What criteria might be used? How might these be weighted? How significant are issues such as the scalability of its distribution for reuse in terms of initial set-up costs, integration into existing urban infrastructure and projected maintenance regimes are important considerations in dealing with the design for alternative use?

Landscape-based wastewater treatment in greenfield estates:

The land development and subdivision industry in Australia supports the construction of 120,000 new homes each year, with most land for residential buildings being on urban outskirts. Given the increasing costs and impacts of current large-scale wastewater treatment systems, the opportunity exists to explore the potential of landscape based treatment systems in the green field estates being developed for suburban expansion. As well as being low in capital and operational costs, they are also low in energy inputs and offer opportunities to satisfy water demands in suburban developments such as for urban forestry, sporting fields and other open spaces.

Research questions include: How can the feasibility of integrating landscape based methods of treating wastewater in green-field suburban developments be assessed? What is the relationship for such water treatment to open space, urban forestry, and local educational and recreational strategies? How might the concerns of local authorities and residents be allayed?

A background in one or more of the following fields is likely to be advantageous: environmental or chemical engineering, landscape architecture, waste water treatment, planning, and community participation.


For further information please contact:

Professor John Fien or Professor Felicity Roddick