Dr Nicholas Farrelly

BAS (Hons) (ANU), MPhil, DPhil (Oxford)
Associate Dean (Development and Impact)
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
T: +61 2 6125 8220

Areas of expertise

  • Studies Of Asian Society 169903
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • Political Science 1606

Research interests

Southeast Asian politics and societies, with an emphasis on Myanmar and Thailand, and some attention to Bangladesh, Indonesia, China and India.


Dr Nicholas Farrelly is the Associate Dean in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific responsible for development and impact initiatives. In this role he leads the College’s engagement with a wide range of government, business and civil society organisations. 

After graduating from the ANU in 2003 with First Class Honours and the University Medal in Asian Studies, he completed his M.Phil and D.Phil at Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

In 2006, while a graduate student, Nicholas founded New Mandala, a website which has gone on to become the preeminent public forum in Southeast Asian Studies.

After returning to Canberra from Oxford, in 2009 he was appointed Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security. Since 2011, he has held a number of key academic positions in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, including as convenor of the PhB program. 

Nicholas recently served as a Deputy Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific and as Director of the ANU Myanmar Research Centre, an institution he helped establish in 2015.

Nicholas is the Ambassador for the Westpac Research Fellowship program, sits on the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation National Selection Panel for the Future Leader and Research Fellow schemes, and works closely with a number of other Australian businesses to support the quality of their engagement with Asia. 

His own academic research focuses on political conflict and social change in mainland Southeast Asia. He has examined these themes across the borderlands where Myanmar rubs against India, Bangladesh and China. While studying these areas, Nicholas has continued to research, write and lecture about Thailand, a country at the heart of some of his oldest academic interests.

Nicholas is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

Available student projects

I am always delighted to hear from students (Honours, Masters and PhD) seeking to work on the following broad topics:

  • Thai politics
  • Myanmar politics
  • Asian policing, military and paramilitary organisations
  • Southeast Asian regional security
  • Borderlands in South, East and Southeast Asia
  • Online manifestations of Asian politics

To be competitive for a doctoral scholarship at the ANU you will want to have a First Class Honours degree (or equivalent) at the undergraduate level. It is also often helpful to demonstrate relevant knowledge through prior research, publications or intensive in-country experience. Language skills and enthusiasm for the scholarly life are also valued assets. Please do feel free to get in contact if you would like to introduce your plans to see whether I would be a good fit as a supervisor.

Please note that I have a particular interest in meeting with enthusiastic undergraduate students who are looking to make the serious study of Southeast Asia the core of their academic interests. If you fall into that category send me a message and we'll find a time to meet in-person.

Current student projects

I am currently supervising or co-supervising students working on the following topics:


  • Norms in Myanmar's international engagement
  • Protest movements and the Internet in north Asia
  • Refugees in the Myanmar-Bangladesh borderlands

Past student projects

I have previously supervised or co-supervised students who worked on the following topics:


  • Japanese development cooperation with Myanmar
  • The environmental politics of the Mekong River
  • Thai border towns
  • Australian media discourses about development in Myanmar
  • Political conflict over the Brahmaputra River
  • Ethnic Chinese politics and society in Myanmar
  • Papuan students and ethnic identity in Indonesia
  • Peacekeeping operations and Fijian coup politics
  • Politics of the Wa along the Sino-Myanmar frontier
  • History of borders in northeast Myanmar


  • Cross-border relations between Thailand and Myanmar
  • International links between Bangladesh and Myanmar
  • Indonesia's influence on Myanmar's democratic transition
  • Local politics of rural-urban economies in northern Thailand


  • Urban gender politics in Myanmar
  • Ethnic Chinese in Cambodia
  • Myanmar's Union Assembly (2011 to 2016)
  • Preah Vihear temple dispute in Cambodian culture
  • Masculinity and wealth in urban Myanmar
  • Policing and non-traditional security in Thailand
  • Informal political institutions in provincial Myanmar
  • Ethnic youth in Myanmar's transition


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Updated:  14 November 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers