Robotic Process Automation: Research Opportunities

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Moe Thandar Wynn
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Recently, there has been a strong interest in industry in a specific area of automation Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This term can include robotics, software agents acting as human beings in system interactions, and process automation, workflow management systems or systems that are process-aware.

RPA is a relatively new technology comprising of software agents called `bots' that mimic the manual path taken by a human through a range of computer applications when performing certain tasks in a business process. The tasks that bots perform are typically rule-based, well-structured and repetitive.

Examples of tasks that bots perform include:

  • data transfer between applications through screen scraping
  • automated email query processing
  • collation of payroll data from different sources.

Organisations aim to increase their operational efficiency through the application of RPA. RPA has already seen significant uptake in practice and there are multiple vendors offering solution technologies.

Contrasting with this early practical adoption there is a relative lack of academic research into RPA. As a consequence, RPA lacks the sound theoretical foundations that allow for objective reasoning around its application and development, which hinders initiatives for achieving meaningful advances in the field.

Research activities

The RPA research initiative is one of the large research initiatives of the Business Process Management (BPM) discipline. This research initiative draws upon the core strengths of BPM discipline members in the areas of process automation, process data analytics and process management. The discipline conducts industry-informed process oriented research in close collaboration with industry partners.

As part of this large team of researchers, you will work on one of the sub-topics under investigation:

  • RPA Governance: What are the critical success factors for RPA adoption?
  • RPA Task identification: How can we determine which tasks are suitable to use RPA technology?
  • Design and Implementation of bots: What are the key considerations when designing and implementing a software bot?
  • Analysis, Monitoring and Control of bots: How can we monitor and control a software bot?
  • Data and process mining of event logs from RPA software: How can we analyse the behaviour of a bot using execution traces?


Depending your level of engagement, one or more of these outcomes are expected:

  • insights into critical success factors for RPA Adoption in Australian organisations
  • design and implementation of:
    • one or more robots
    • new approaches and algorithms for RPA task prioritisation
    • new algorithms for exception handling in RPA
    • new data and process mining algorithms for RPA logs.

Skills and experience

You should have strong technical skills in one of the following fields:

  • Information Technology
  • Computer Science
  • Data Science
  • Mathematics
  • Information Systems.

A suitable topic will be tailored and co-designed to suit your background. You should possess strong professional communication skills.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.