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The Australian National University

Dr Nicholas Farrelly

BAS (Hons) (ANU), MPhil, DPhil (Oxford)
Deputy Director (Impact and Engagement) for the Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs; Director, ANU Myanmar Research Centre
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.


My research stretches across the Southeast Asian region and focuses on relationships between government control, spatial organisation and political conflict. I have examined these themes across the borderlands where Myanmar rubs against India, Bangladesh and China. While studying these areas I have continued to research, write and lecture about Thailand, a country at the heart of some of my oldest academic interests. In 2006 I co-founded a website on mainland Southeast Asia called New Mandala. It offers regular analysis of social and political issues in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar, and the other countries of the region. Increasingly I find myself writing, teaching and advising on a broader array of issues, including security in the Asian region and the growth of new economic players. 

Career highlights

University Medal in Asian Studies, ANU (2003); Rhodes Scholar, Balliol College, University of Oxford (2005-2008); Co-founder, New Mandala (2006); Sir Peter Holmes Memorial Award, Royal Society for Asian Affairs (2007); Convenor, core courses in the ANU Master of Asia-Pacific Studies program (2009); Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security (2010 – 2011); Inaugural Convenor, Program in Peace, Conflict and War Studies, ANU (2011 – 2013); Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship (awarded in 2012); ANU Director of the Pan Asia Institute, a collaboration with Indiana University (since 2013); Director of the ANU Myanmar Research Centre (since its establishment in 2015); Convenor of the PhB program in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific (since June 2015).

Available student projects

I convene the PhB program in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. This program can provide some of the world's very best undergraduate training focussed on the Asia-Pacific region. If you are considering applying to undertake a PhB at the ANU, and you have questions about Asia-Pacific focussed offerings, then please do not hesitate to get in contact with me directly.  

I am also 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, even first-years, 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
  • Informal political institutions in provincial Myanmar
  • Ethnic youth in Myanmar's transition
  • Masculinity and wealth in urban Myanmar
  • Policing and non-traditional security in Thailand
  • 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


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Updated:  26 June 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers