Pacific Studies at Swinburne (PS@S) is a research network of scholars investigating Pacific politics, regionalism and culture with a particular focus on Melanesia and Timor-Leste. Bringing together a range of specialists on Fiji, Timor-Leste and the Francophone Pacific, PS@S is also the focal point for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in Pacific studies at Swinburne University of Technology. At Swinburne, this includes two dedicated undergraduate units, and a growing cohort of doctoral students working on Melanesia and Timor-Leste. Alongside the research themes detailed below, Swinburne remains the home of the international area studies network, the Timor-Leste Studies Association.

Key research themes include:

  • Fiji in transition
  • Nation building and National Identity in the Pacific
  • Regionalism in the Pacific
  • China in the Pacific
  • The French Pacific
  • Nuclear weapons testing in the region
  • Timor-Leste studies


Dean Professor Robbie Robertson, Dean and Professor, School of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities.

Prof Michael Leach, Professor in Politics and Chair of Department Social Sciences.

Professor Waden Narsey, Adjunct Professor.

Nic Maclellan, Adjunct Researcher.


Dr Sara Currie (PhD, 2017) Destination Brand Building for Emerging Nations:

The Case of Timor-Leste.

Dr Sarah Smith (PhD, 2015) Gender in United Nations peacebuilding: a case study of Timor-Leste.

Christopher Mudaliar (PhD Candidate) Resolving a fractured Nation: Fiji. 

Alex Cato Stewart (PhD Candidate) The impact of Fiji’s evolving foreign policy on regional order in the South Pacific.

Dimity Hawkins (PhD Candidate) Nuclear Shadows: Nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific and the Fijian response between 1966-1975.

Mica Barreto-Soares (PhD Candidate) Understanding China-Timor-Leste Relations.

Tim Clark (MResearch Candidate) China-PNG: An emerging relationship.



(Both units run as part of a Bachelor of Arts: Politics and International Relations):

Politics of the Pacific POL30014

Politics of the Pacific introduces students to the politics of Pacific Island nations, with a special focus on Melanesia and the countries of the so-called “Arc of Responsibility” (Timor-Leste, PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu) and with Fiji. Students gain an understanding of key historical, political and institutional developments in the post-independence politics of Australia’s nearest neighbours. Political issues in the regions of West Papua, Bougainville and New Caledonia are also examined.

Industry Study Tour: Samoa



Robertson, Robbie ; 2012. Book review: ‘Disturbing history: resistance in early colonial Fiji, 1874-1914’, by Robert Nicole, The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 39, no. 1 (2012), pp. 225-227.

Robertson, Robbie ; 2012. Cooking the goose: Fiji’s coup culture contextualised, The Round Table, Vol. 101, no. 6 (2012), pp. 509-519.

Robertson, Robbie (2007) Elections and nation building: the long road since 1970. In: Fraenkel, Jon, and Firth, Stewart, (eds.) From Election to Coup in Fiji: the 2006 campaign and its aftermath. ANU E Press, Canberra, Australia, pp. 250-260.

Robertson, Robbie (2007) The Pacific Plan and labour mobility. In: Prasad, Biman C., and Roy, Kartick C., (eds.) Development Problems and Prospects in Pacific Island States. Nova Science Publishers, New York, US, pp. 23-30.

Leach, Michael ; 2017. Timor-Leste’s 2017 elections: the presidential race commences, Inside Story, 3 March.

Leach, Michael. 2017. Nation-Building and National Identity in Timor-Leste. London: Routledge.

Leach, Michael ; 2016. The politics of Timor-Leste, in Pacific ways: Government and politics in the Pacific Islands, 2nd edition / Stephen Levine (ed.).

Leach, Michael ; 2016. Timor-Leste in 2015 The Contemporary Pacific, Vol. 28, no. 2 (2016), pp. 466-473.

Leach, Michael ; 2015. The politics of history in Timor-Leste, A new era? Timor-Leste after the UN / Sue Ingram, Lia Kent and Andrew McWilliam (eds.), Chapter 4, pp. 41-58.

Leach, Michael; James Scambary et al. 2013. Attitudes to national identity in Melanesia and Timor-Leste : a survey of future leaders in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste  New York : Peter Lang, 2013.

Michael Leach; Damien Kingsbury (eds_ 2013. The Politics of Timor-Leste : democratic consolidation after intervention. Ithaca, New York : Cornell University, Southeast Asia Program Publications.

Maclellan, Nic ; 2015. Transforming the regional architecture: new players and challenges for the Pacific Islands, AsiaPacific Issues, Vol. 18 (Aug 2015), pp. 1-8.

Maclellan, Nic ; 2015. The region in review: international issues and events, 2014, The Contemporary Pacific, Vol. 27, no. 2 (2015), pp. 487-506.

Maclellan, Nic ; 2015. The 2014 elections in New Caledonia: a precursor to self-determination?, The Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 50, no. 2 (2015), pp. 168-188.

Maclellan, Nic ; 2015. Pacific diplomacy and decolonisation in the 21st century, In The New Pacific Diplomacy / Greg Fry and Sandra Tarte (eds.), Chapter 21, pp. 263-281.

Maclellan, Nic. and Jean Chesneaux 1998. After Moruroa: France in the South Pacific Melbourne: Ocean Press.

Maclellan, Nic 2016. The politics of New Caledonia, in Pacific ways: Government and politics in the Pacific Islands, 2nd edition / Stephen Levine (ed.).

Narsey, Wadan (2016) British Imperialism and the Making of Colonial Currency Systems. Palgrave Studies in the History of Finance . Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK.

Narsey, Wadan Lal (2012) Poverty in Fiji: Changes 2002-03 to 2008-09 and policy implications. Report. UNSPECIFIED, Suva, Fiji.

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