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Articles categorized as ‘University of Sydney Arts Programs’

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Sydney PhD candidate explains what Pokémon Go can tell us about augmented reality experiences

From university campuses to public parks and suburban spaces, Pokémon Go is seemingly everywhere—including the OzTREKK office: yesterday we caught a Zubat and a Kakuna!

Kyle Moore, a doctoral candidate in the University of Sydney’s Department of Media and Communications, is researching urban mobile gaming.

what can Pokémon Go tell us about augmented reality experiences

PhD candidate Kyle Moore outside the Museum of Contemporary Art in Circular Quay. Augmented reality is changing gamers’ experience of public spaces, says the urban gaming researcher (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

The research has focused largely on players of Ingress, a massively multiplayer augmented reality game developed by Niantic, and has in recent months included field and beta testers of Pokémon Go. Kyle’s thesis explores how gaming can influence players’ understandings of urban environments.

What does Pokémon Go reveal about augmented reality and the future of gaming?

“We’ve seen this happen with the success of mobile games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush, which both became hugely successful and symbolic of a new gaming audience. Similarly, Pokémon Go reveals gamers’ willingness to adopt new forms of technology, like augmented reality and location-awareness, which previously were very peripheral to everyday mobile gaming and more common amongst experimental, artistic, or even gimmicky mobile games,” says Kyle.

Your PhD looks at the emerging technological phenomenon of urban mobile gaming. Is Pokémon Go a breakthrough or a fad?

“In terms of the technology, Pokémon Go is similar to a range of other games that have been released. These were often experimental, playing around with the capabilities and limits of the devices. Both Nintendo and Niantic labs have used these technologies before. Nintendo, with their Nintendo 3DS portable console, has a number of built-in and downloadable augmented reality games, while Niantic are best known for their successful alternate-reality game Ingress. Pokémon Go has certainly reached a viral status—whether or not this will fade away remains be seen. Without a doubt there will be numerous clone games pushing the limits of these emerging technologies.”

How are augmented reality games changing our public spaces?

“Numerous stories about the dangers of playing Pokémon Go rightly signal that refusing to acknowledge the space we are in can in fact have consequences,” says Kyle, “and that games should no longer be considered outside of these parameters.”

“The popularity of the game means we need to rethink our engagement with traditional spaces of play and leisure, such as parks and playgrounds, as well as spaces where play has traditionally been seen as subversive—city spaces in general. It’s also important to consider the implications this has for spaces outside the city, for those in rural or suburban spaces, who will have difficulty playing in these familiar spaces, and the impact traveling to play will have on these groups.”

Pokémon Go is essentially a toy. What makes it so popular with adults?

“It’s difficult to avoid putting it all down to nostalgia and 20 years of fan engagement,” says Kyle.

“But then again, I can’t deny that this would have had a huge impact on the widespread adoption of the game. Those who would have played Pokémon in the late 1990s now have increased mobility—they are able to freely move across and through city spaces, generally they are able afford mobile devices, and manage their free time.

“The game also appears to be hugely popular with children, whose parents may have never played a Pokémon game growing up. I’ve seen parents teaching their children how to effectively use their device to catch Pokémon, and vice-versa. There is a cross generational element to the game, which links towards shared ownership and literacies of mobile devices—that parents and children learn from these shared experiences.”

What are the developments to look out for in augmented reality?

“For augmented reality, we can probably hope to see more sophisticated modes of layering. Generally, this technology can read from codes, similar to a QR code, to give grounding to an image. This technology may feasibly be able to read buildings or landmarks in a similar way.”

Kyle adds: “In terms of developments for Pokémon Go, there is talk of using near field communication (NFC) as a means of trading between mobile devices. For augmented reality and location-based games in general, we may see more integration of location-awareness, in both mobile devices and potentially in portable gaming devices too. Alongside this, portable devices like the PlayStation Vita allow for 3G networks, which may be useful in real-time networked game play and location-awareness.”


Would you like to learn more about the University of Sydney’s graduate arts degrees? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at 1-866-698-7355 or shannon@oztrekk.com!

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Sydney student on Forbes’ “30 Under 30”

A University of Sydney student has been recognised as a global leader in law and policy in this year’s Forbes “30 Under 30” list.

Hussain Nadim is a doctoral candidate in the University of Sydney Department of Government and International Relations and is the coordinator of the South Asia Study Group.


Hussain Nadim (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

Hussain was recognised by Forbes for his work founding the Peace and Development unit of Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms.

He has also consulted the military and security agencies of Pakistan on deradicalisation and counter-terrorism issues, and at age 25 he was appointed the Special Assistant to the Federal Minister in the Government of Pakistan.

“Being recognised by Forbes is a humbling experience. Not only that it is a reassurance of the path I have chosen for myself, but more so a commitment to serve the people and society globally,” said Hussain.

“To me, getting recognised by Forbes as ’30 Under 30′ is a gateway to deliver more, and in innovative ways, solutions for the problems that collective human society faces in the form of intolerance, racism, hate and extremism.”

Sydney Department of Government and International Relations

The Sydney Department of Government and International Relations is a comprehensive political science department, with particular expertise in international relations, international security, comparative politics, Australian politics, public policy and political theory. Their missions is to

  • produce world-class research which continually advances the intellectual boundaries of the discipline and develops understanding of real-world political phenomena;
  • deliver high-quality teaching and research programs at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, which are both intellectually and vocationally relevant;
  • develop mutually beneficial links with many professional, research and educational communities; and to
  • establish the department as the premier political science department in Australia, and one of the leading political science departments in the region and the world.

The Masters and Diploma programs in Public Policy, International Relations and International Studies provide early to mid-career professionals with practical knowledge, experience, and widely recognized credentials. Units of study in these programs are designed to deepen your skills, to strengthen awareness of analytic techniques, and to provide opportunities for interaction with professional networks.

  • Master of International Relations
  • Master of International Studies
  • Master of Public Policy
  • Master of International Security


Would you like more information about studying at the University of Sydney? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at 1-866-698-7355 or shannon@oztrekk.com to learn more!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Sydney Arts and Humanities ranked number one in Australia

The University of Sydney has performed strongly in the 2015/16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings for specific subject areas, with outstanding results in Arts and Humanities and Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health.

University of Sydney arts and humanities degrees

Study arts at the University of Sydney

Subject rankings for other areas will be published over the next month.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings were founded in 2004. The rankings measure universities across the core areas of teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

“We are delighted with yet another strong showing for the University of Sydney in these subject rankings. Our Arts and Humanities disciplines have been ranked among the best in the world over the past five years making us the clear leader in Australia,” said Professor Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research.

“The performance of our health disciplines is also impressive. Our ambition is to be the leading research and education institution in Australia and among the best in the world. These results suggest we’re on track in pursuing this vision, which is at the heart of our emerging new strategic plan.”

Arts and Humanities at the University of Sydney

The results place the University of Sydney as Australia’s top institution for Arts and Humanities and 29th globally.

This achievement was driven by excellence in research and teaching by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Since the inception of the Times Higher Education subject rankings in 2011 the university has consistently ranked within the top 30 globally in Arts and Humanities.


Would you like to learn more about the University of Sydney’s graduate arts degrees? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Arts Programs Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com.

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Sydney professor’s breakthrough research in linguistics wins award

Professor Nick Enfield’s co-authored study proving ‘huh’ is a universal word has won an Ig Nobel Prize and been published by PLOS ONE.

Professor Nick Enfield of the University of Sydney has won an Ig Nobel Prize for breakthrough research in linguistics that found evidence of a universal trait in human conversation.

Professor Nick Enfield (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

The Ig Nobel Prizes are organised by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research and are awarded annually at Harvard University in honour of research achievements that “make people laugh, and then think.”

The prizes were first established as a tongue-in-cheek alternative to the Nobels. But the awards, now in their 25th year, have gained their own prestige within the scientific community, with each individual ‘Ig’ presented to winners by a Nobel Laureate.

Professor Enfield and his co-authors Dr Mark Dingemanse and Dr Francisco Torreira of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands were recognised for their 2013 PLOS ONE paper revealing ‘Huh’ is a universal word.

In a major cross-linguistic study, they sampled 31 languages and found all have a word with a near-identical sound and function as ‘Huh’ in the English language; evidence, they proposed, that ‘Huh’ is an indispensable tool in human communication.

“We are delighted that our research has been recognised with an Ig Nobel Prize, because it lives up to the awards’ mission to celebrate research that first makes people laugh and then think. It’s fitting because misunderstandings themselves can so often do this,” said Professor Enfield, Chair of the University of Sydney Department of Linguistics.

Professor Enfield and Dr Dingemanse have followed up their Ig Nobel-winning research with the publication of a new PLOS ONE paper, which suggests humans ‘fix’ misunderstandings in conversation on average every 90 seconds – regardless of the language being spoken.

“The findings give insight into what is special about language in our species,” said Professor Enfield.

Building on their 2013 ‘Huh’ study, an international team of linguists scoured over 48 hours of conversation in 12 different languages spoken across five continents and found in each language the speakers share the same basic system for ‘fixing’ misunderstanding.

Three talking points on human communication:

  1. ‘Huh’ and its variants appear in 31 languages
  2. People stop for clarification in conversation once every 90 seconds
  3. People share the burden of fixing misunderstanding in conversation

Efforts to fix misunderstanding in conversation can be as simple as the word ‘Huh’ or a question such as ‘Who?’ And on average, no five minutes of conversation go by in any language without someone attempting to fix a misunderstanding.

The researchers studied the Aboriginal language of Murrinh-Patha in Northern Australia, Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan, Argentine Sign Language, and Siwu in Ghana, among others. The findings suggest that the universal foundations of language are in human social cognition.

“We humans excel at monitoring each others’ states of understanding, and we are masters of the kind of cooperation and collaboration that mutual understanding requires,” said Professor Enfield.

Language scientists have historically laboured over the study of conversation, but the research of Professor Enfield and his colleagues provide further evidence for a long sought-after finding: a universal principle in how humans communicate in conversation.

“Our findings could help computers to communicate in more ‘human’ ways, for instance when they don’t understand voice commands. They also have applications in language teaching and cross-cultural communication: knowing how and when to use these tools can help people to secure mutual understanding quickly and effectively,” said lead author of the PLOS ONE paper, Dr Dingemanse.

The research is part of a five-year European Research Council (ERC) project led by Professor Enfield.

Study linguistics at the University of Sydney

Do you love teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), second language teaching (SLT), and the teaching of modern languages? The Master of Applied Linguistics trains you to apply your knowledge of language in diverse settings, including teaching, translation, journalism and media, language policy and planning, website design and socio-educational development.

Master of Applied Linguistics students will engage with international experts in the fields of functional linguistics, world English, language and culture and media discourse; and will attend seminars on a range of applications of linguistics, including educational linguistics, TESOL, clinical linguistics, forensic linguistics, and translation and interpreting.

Students will also have access the “Sydney School,” a groundbreaking and internationally recognised literacy initiative in primary, secondary, tertiary and adult education, designed and implemented by specialist linguists and educators.

Program: Master of Applied Linguistics
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Duration: 1 – 1.5 years
Semester intake: March
Application deadline: January 31, 2016; however, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply a minimum of three months prior to the program start date.

Apply to a linguistics or language program at the University of Sydney!


Get more information about studying linguistics and language studies University of Sydney! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Linguistics Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call 1-866-698-7355.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Sydney professor talks about why business prizes humanities degrees

Do you have a Bachelor of Arts and wondering about your career options? Have you ever considered business? Read on!

By Associate Professor Richard Miles, first published in the Australian Financial Review. Associate Professor Richard Miles directs the ArtSS Career-Ready Program at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney.

It’s an all-too-common claim that a humanities education is well past its sell-by date.

University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Learn more about Sydney arts degrees

In the United States, the Republican Senator for Florida Marco Rubio has questioned the point of studying Greek philosophy, “because the market for Greek philosophers is tight.” In Texas, they have passed legislation to encourage students to major in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects instead of those in the liberal arts. In Australia, the Institute of Public Affairs suggested as recently as last year that taxpayers shouldn’t fund arts degrees at all. These are extreme examples but they are emblematic of the negativity that can downplay the contribution of arts graduates, across a spectrum of economic activities.

In the humanities, we defend ourselves by pointing out the dangers of reducing university education to little more than training for future employment. Anyone who wants to live in a dynamic and innovative society should have sympathy with this argument. Yet, it does not address the legitimate aspirations of students for a successful and fulfilling career after graduation.

Anyone who has ever been behind a humanities department information desk at a university open day can attest that career prospects are understandably a prime concern for students and their parents. With the prospect of rising costs in higher education, these concerns are only going to grow. Universities will be called upon to put energy and resources into making the case for why Australia needs arts graduates more than ever. This does not necessarily mean humanities education needs to be radically reformed but that it gets better at explaining to employers the vital skills it helps students acquire.

Arts graduates have characteristics traditionally prized by the Australian corporate and public sectors. At the University of Sydney the percentage of arts students from the highest performing ATAR group matches or exceeds those in the science and business degrees. My own academic discipline, classics, might seem as about as far removed from the needs of a modern commercial enterprise as it is possible to get.

Yet when I taught at university in the United Kingdom, my students were routinely hired by investment banks, management consultancies, accountancy firms and government agencies not because of their ability to translate Latin or ancient Greek, but because these employers coveted their analytical, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills.

It’s for these reasons that Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney has partnered with organisations such as Westpac, KPMG, Telstra and Allianz to create paid placement programs for bright and enterprising students. By coupling these placements with professional skills workshops on our campus, the program readies arts students for the workplace and demonstrates to employers the breadth of skills held by our graduates.

Surprisingly, it is technology that has strengthened the case for employing arts graduates. Technological innovation is now so fast-moving that it is difficult to predict the skills executives will require in five, let alone 10 years. This creates problems for vocational degrees in keeping up with these ever-changing requirements. Yet, the ability to synthesise large quantities of diffuse data into a clear, economical and effective argument—a key feature of an arts degree—will never go out of fashion.

The influential Second Carnegie Report on Business Education, published in 2011, made this clear. The dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto said the study “effectively dismantles the argument that there is no time or need for the liberal arts in modern business education. The authors correctly point out that the world needs business leaders who can manage complexity, think creatively and leverage the insights of others—skills honed far more explicitly in the liberal arts than in business.”

That’s why arts graduates are greatly overrepresented in the senior ranks of corporate Australia. Take for example Westpac, where Brian Hartzer, a history graduate has recently replaced Gail Kelly, who studied classics, as CEO. It is the all-important ‘soft skills’ that are essential for effective senior leadership—particularly those around effective communication and empathy. These are core attributes of an arts degree.

The challenge now for Australia’s universities and employers is to forge effective partnerships with one another to ensure that young talented Australian arts students are given the opportunities for the careers that they deserve.

University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney remains one of the leading institutions for the arts and humanities globally. Recently, the university was ranked 21st in the world under the QS World University Rankings by Faculty 2014 – Arts and Humanities.


Learn more about the University of Sydney’s arts degrees. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Arts Programs Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com for more information about arts programs at Australian universities.

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

New Master of Health Security at the University of Sydney

New for 2016, the Master of Health Security at the University of Sydney offers an intellectually rigorous and flexible multidisciplinary program of study and research in the field of health security.

University of Sydney Arts

Learn more about the Master of Health Security

Based in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, students can tailor their tertiary experience by drawing upon the expertise of a number of schools and faculties at the university:

“This new degree programme is a bold new multidisciplinary initiative from the University of Sydney to train an entirely new generation of professionals that can deal effectively with the multifaceted physical, social, and economic consequences that inevitably arise from adverse health events in the human, plant and animal world,” said Program Director Dr Adam Kamradt-Scott.

“We’ve seen how the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa has become not only a global public health hazard, but how it is having global trade implications in key commodities while also exacerbating poverty, ill-health and food shortages in the affected countries.

“Here in Australia we’ve also recently seen how contaminated food imports can have major consequences for human health, not to mention strain relations between trading partners.”

The Master of Health Security will prepare you for careers in human, animal and plant national health security.

The program is designed to train a new generation of professionals, policy-makers, government officials and security sector personnel to respond effectively to complex health events and the wider social and economic consequences, through coverage of

  • emerging diseases (animal, plant and human);
  • laboratory safety and regulation (biosafety);
  • biodefence;
  • quarantine and border control; and
  • agriculture and synthetic biology.

“This new degree program will give people the skills and knowledge to deal with these complex events in a globalised world, and open up a wide range of career options for individuals with health, allied health, health sciences, nursing, veterinary health, agricultural specialist, policy-making, security services, customs and border control, intelligence, and defence backgrounds,” Dr Kamradt-Scott said.

The program also provides you with an opportunity to gain advanced training to support career advancement as well as research options that provide a pathway to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in fields such as security studies, international relations, public health, veterinary health, and agriculture.

Program: Master of Health Security
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Duration: 3 years
Semester intakes: March and July
Application deadline: It is recommended that students apply a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.

Apply to the University of Sydney!


Would you like to learn more about the University of Sydney’s graduate arts degrees? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Arts Programs Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or  1-866-698-7355 for more information about arts programs at Australian universities.

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music turns 100!

Today, Wednesday, May 6, 2015 one of the oldest and most prestigious music schools in Australia, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, or “the Con” as it is affectionately known by Sydneysiders today, will celebrate its centenary.

The Con will celebrate its centenary with the grand performance of MASS by Leonard Bernstein, one of the greatest composers of the last century who also wrote West Side Story. More than 400 Conservatorium high school students, tertiary students of the University of Sydney, staff and alumni, as well as students of the Sydney Children’s Choir, will make up the massive cast that will perform Bernstein’s MASS in the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House.

Professor Eduardo Diazmuñoz, Chair of Conducting at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, who was mentored by Bernstein in the 1970s, said “MASS is a masterpiece of the twentieth century. Bernstein considered MASS as one of his greatest works. It is described as a ‘theatre piece for singers, players and dancers’ that will bring to the stage hundreds of Con students in voice, orchestra, jazz, choral music as well as production and sound design.

“It is a challenging piece both musically and theatrically, which makes it a fitting piece to mark the Con’s centenary and showcase the breadth of music talent that continues to evolve from the Con.

“As we look forward to the next 100 years, MASS also sends an important message about tolerance, acceptance and peace in today’s world. This is something that music has always been successful in promoting across cultures and in bringing people together. It promises to be a memorable centenary event for the Sydney Con,” said Professor Diazmuñoz.

Take a sneak peek at rehearsals for the Con’s Centenary performance of MASS by Leonard Bernstein. https://youtu.be/C6uMLp8FQ7Y.

Sydney Conservatorium of Music

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is a creative hub for musicians and scholars, a magical and inspired place where talented musicians and researchers of tomorrow can develop their skills in a fertile academic and performance environment.

The strength and heart of the Sydney Conservatorium is their talented faculty with their significant contributions to research, creative activity and outstanding teaching. The faculty includes award-winning performers and composers, world-class scholars and acclaimed musicians with high-level contacts in the music world, spanning Europe, the USA and Asia.

With an internationally benchmarked degree or diploma from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, students can be confident that their education will stand them in good stead the world over.


Find out more about the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. For more information about arts degrees at the University of Sydney, contact OzTREKK’s Australian Arts Programs Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com for more information about how you can study in Australia!

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

University of Sydney to expand partnership with Sydney Writers’ Festival

The Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has announced it will expand its partnership with the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2015, becoming a major partner with one of the city’s most exciting cultural events.

Professor Duncan Ivison, Dean of the faculty, said the partnership demonstrates the institutions’ commitment to the written word, debate and ongoing exchange of bright ideas.

University of Sydney arts

Learn more about studying at Sydney

“There is no better partnership for our faculty than with the Sydney Writers’ Festival. We are both deeply committed to great writing, lively debate and the power of both the written and spoken word. We are delighted that, once again, our academics, alumni, students and friends will be contributing to the SWF program and helping deliver another outstanding festival.

“A vibrant, engaged and informed public culture—one in which good writing, open debate and the complexity of ideas is embraced—needs to be supported and cultivated. Our partnership is aimed to do precisely that,” said Professor Ivison.

The full program will be launched on March 28 and will again feature some of the faculty’s distinguished academics in its program, with a smorgasbord of events running from May 18–24 in the Walsh Bay precinct and other city venues.

Jemma Birrell, Sydney Writers’ Festival’s artistic director, said “The University of Sydney festival team has also been incredibly helpful in unearthing some of the more quirky subjects of research and skills hidden within various faculties, and this has helped form part of the Curiosity Lecture Series, which will be supported by Sydney this year.”

University of Sydney Master of Creative Writing

New, developing and established writers who wish to explore and develop their skills will enjoy the wide offering of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and screenwriting on offer in the Master of Creative Writing.

This course is also highly suited to teachers who wish to be better able to explain the processes and skills involved in creative writing, and literature scholars of all levels who wish to encounter living writers and to better understand writing processes.

Students will have the opportunity to learn from renowned and award-winning authors, poets and screenwriters in the heart of Australia’s most vibrant writing and publishing community. Units range from introductory to advanced workshops and meet-the-writer units, to more structured and academic opportunities to study contemporary movements in the writing of poetry and prose.

Structuring, writing and editing skills are at the core of the degree, although the course addresses many other aspects of the writing process, from the development of ideas and finding of voice to final publication and questions concerning the role of writers and writing within society.

Program: Master of Creative Writing
Location: Camperdown, Sydney
Semester intake: March and July
Duration: 18 months
Application deadline: January 31 for the March 2015 intake

Apply to an arts program at the University of Sydney!


Would you like to learn more about the University of Sydney’s graduate arts degrees? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Arts Programs Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com for more information about arts programs at Australian universities.

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Sydney Department of Archaeology use airborne lasers to solve mystery

A team of University of Sydney archaeologists, led by Dr Damian Evans, have used groundbreaking laser imaging to map central Angkor and to help identify how unstable climate change damaged the city’s water system and contributed to its demise. Their groundbreaking work is the subject of a new SBS documentary.

Professor Roland Fletcher leads the Greater Angkor Project in Cambodia, a major international effort to map the great pre-industrial, dispersed, low-density city, covering an area of about 1,000 sq km.

University of Sydney Department of Archaeology

Study archaeology at the University of Sydney

The team’s discovery of roads, canals and urban landscape, which rewrites the story of Angkor, will be detailed in a two-part SBS One documentary, Angkor Wat’s Hidden Megacity.

“The main discoveries of the Greater Angkor Project have been to identify the huge extent of Angkor and its character as a giant low-density city, to show how its water management network functioned and to show that the demise of Angkor was related to extremely unstable climate change causing severe damage to the water network,” said Professor Fletcher, of the Sydney Department of Archaeology.

“The LiDAR survey has now also shown that central Angkor was arranged around a road grid and that the Kulen Hills to the north of Angkor were the location of an extensive low-density urban area in the early ninth century, just as Angkor was beginning to expand,” he said.

LiDAR, or light detection and ranging, is a remote sensing technology carried in a plane or helicopter. A light beam is aimed at the ground and maps everything in 3D from the tops of the trees to the ground, revealing the form of the ground surface under dense forest cover. This has been crucial for mapping central Angkor and the Kulen Hills which are still densely forested.

“The University of Sydney is a leader in urban archaeology,” says Professor Fletcher. “The particular significance of the Greater Angkor Project is that the university supports highly specialized and diverse research disciplines, producing results of global relevance, which relate to contemporary issues such as low-density urbanism and the risks of climate change.”

The 15-year project, supported by major Australian Research Council funding, demonstrates the value of international collaboration with institutions from Australia, Cambodia and France.

University of Sydney Department of Archaeology

Archaeology provides a vivid understanding of how the past informs our present through its focus on the material remains of the human past.

The Sydney Department of Archaeology is one of Australia’s leading and most dynamic departments of archaeology. The university’s nine full-time staff offer a highly diverse programme of undergraduate teaching, postgraduate coursework and postgraduate research opportunities spanning many areas of archaeological inquiry and practice. The research funding success of staff projects and global connections are reflected in the broad scope of the department’s international fieldwork programmes across Australasia, Asia and Europe. An active community of professionals and interested members of the public in Sydney, along with frequent visitors from overseas, contribute to a lively programme of activities.

Archaeology has been taught at the University of Sydney in various forms since the early 1930s. The Sydney Department of Archaeology is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Find out more about the University of Sydney’s graduate archaeology. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Arts Programs Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com for more information about arts programs at Australian universities.

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Macquarie museum holds ancient spell book and other magical mysteries

An Ancient Egyptian codex from Macquarie University’s Museum of Ancient Cultures has been deciphered for the first time, revealing an invocation including both Christian and Gnostic elements, ritual instructions, and a list of 27 spells to cure demonic possession, various ailments, the effects of magic, or to bring success in love and business.

Macquarie University Faculty of Arts

Learn more about Macquarie University

The new book translating this codex, A Coptic Handbook of Ritual Power, was edited by Associate Professor Malcolm Choat, Department of Ancient History  and Director, Macquarie Ancient Cultures Research Centre; and Professor Iain Gardner, Chair of the Department of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney.

“Magic is a subject of enduring interest, both to researchers and the general public,” said Choat. “Magic in the ancient world is the subject of a number of research projects in our department, and in 2016 we will be introducing a new unit on the history of magic.”

After a long invocation, the codex outlines 27 spells, or prescriptions, which offer healing or remedies for other problems people might have:

  • “Someone who is possessed: Say the formula on linseed oil and pitch. Anoint them.”
  • “Love charm: Say the formula on wine. Let them drink.”
  • “A binding (spell): Say the formula over a new potsherd (and) bury it at the door.”
  • “So that any person be subject to you and give glory to you: Say the formula first before you go out – within your house – and before you speak with the person.”
  • “When someone has a magic on them: wormwood, wine. Let him drink (it).”
  • “Black jaundice: Black cumin, pepper, wine; let him drink (it). Or if it is that of the gold (i.e. yellow jaundice): milky water, wormwood; and let them wash (in it) and drink (it). Boil the water.”
  • “For any sickness: Say the formula on a first (pressing) oil. Anoint them.”
  • “For every staunching of blood: Say the formula on a dry gourd. Let them eat (it). If it is in the body (i.e. internal bleeding): apply with vinegar.”

“You can see here how similar magic and medicine—things that we thinks of as quite separate spheres—actually were in antiquity. So as well as being part of the history of magic and religion, this is also part of the history of medicine,” said Choat.

The edition of this codex was carried out as part of a larger project to publish the over 600 papyri held in the Museum of Ancient Cultures, now known as the Macquarie Papyri.

“The type of Coptic used makes us think it might come from the region of el-Ashmunein (ancient Hermopolis) in Upper Egypt,” says Choat. “Coptic is the final stage of the Egyptian language, and descendent of the hieroglyphs. Based on the handwriting, we think the codex was written around 700 AD.”

Macquarie University is the only place in Australia where Coptic Studies is offered, and the university has been awarded more than three-quarters of a million dollars in Australian Research Council funding for projects in the area of Coptic Studies and papyrology over the last eight years.

Gardner is also teaching a Senior Level unit on ‘Ancient Egyptian Religion and Magic’ at the University of Sydney, and is currently participating in the 2012-2014 ARC Discovery project, “The function of images, and related aspects of production and design, in magical papyri and similar artifacts of ritual power from Late Antiquity,” led by Associate Professor Jay Johnston from the University of Sydney.

The Macquarie Papyri

The Museum of Ancient Cultures at Macquarie University, Sydney, holds a small, but important collection of some 640 papyri. These are mainly Greek texts. There are also some items written in other languages and scripts, notably Demotic and Coptic (Egyptian). Most are papyri in the strictest sense, but the collection also includes a small number of items written on ostraca, parchment, and wooden tablets. Most of the texts date from the period of the third century BC to the eighth century AD.


Curious about studying Ancient History at Macquarie University? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Arts Programs Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com for more information about how you can study in Australia!