PhD programme in Human Sciences


The Ph.D. programme in Human Sciences aims to provide students with the theoretical strength and the methodological skills required to design and complete high-quality research at Universities, Research Centers and public or private institutions, in Italy and around the world.

The main object of investigation shared by all PhD research projects in Human Sciences is the human experience, explored from the range of theoretical and methodological perspectives that are relevant to the three broad areas of Philosophy, Education and Psychology. The teaching plan utilizes the multidisciplinary competences of the members of the Doctoral Teaching Committee and numerous international collaborations. This wealth of contributions provides the PhD students with that combination of specialization and interdisciplinary vision they will need in dealing with the complexities of the contemporary world. The acquired competences are applicable both in basic research and in applied research in many contexts – educational, clinical, health, organizational – and in institutions responsible for socio-cultural policies.

Curricula and research areas
The balance between the specificity of the individual disciplines and the interdisciplinary vision is ensured by the structure of the PhD course, divided into three curricula: Philosophy, Education and Psychology, which meet each other and "dialogue" within six interdisciplinary research areas:
  1. Inclusive societies (gender and queer studies; intercultural and inclusive education). This research area includes theoretical and empirical studies of the ‘difference’ in terms of both gender and culture difference’. The first sub-area, focused on the various declinations of the categories of ‘gender’ and ‘sexual difference’, inserts a ‘sexed’ point of view into the analysis of the main theoretical and practical dilemmas of the human sciences. The second sub-area, focused on cultural differences and their relationships, uses intercultural pedagogy and didactics, and cross-cultural psychology to study the promotion of opportunities for multicultural coexistence.
  2. Training and organizational dynamics (teacher education; personal development and wellbeing in organizational contexts). This research area is concerned with the interpretation of human behavior in organizational systems, that is, with those competences required to describe, assess, diagnose, and explain the main phenomena and psychological processes in organizations. The teacher education segment, in particular, focuses on how research on teaching practices can be used in teachers training.
  3. Child development and educational practices (infant research; language acquisition and development; childhood education and care). This research area focuses on child developmental processes in their social contexts, particularly on interpersonal communication from the first months of life, language acquisition and educational practices that scaffold the child’s growth. The PhD students will undertake both basic research and applied research related to clinical and educational practices with typical, atypical and at risk populations (e.g., children with language delay and impairment, children of immigrant families, etc.), and educational research aimed at establishing and spreading best practice in nurseries, preschools and primary schools.
  4. Theories and practices of care (phenomenology of care; caring in nursing; relationship philosophy; philosophy and psychoanalysis). In this research area the practices of care are investigated, theoretically and empirically. The investigations make use of conceptual and epistemological paradigms developed in the fields of moral philosophy, psychoanalysis, medicine and social psychology, and of qualitative and quantitative research developed in health and educational contexts.
  5. Cognition and contemporaneity roots (body and cognition; visual studies; philosophy of music; critical theory of society and culture; genealogy of philosophical praxis). This research area embraces both cognitive science, studying the cognitive foundations of thought and sensory experience, and the philosophical perspective of visual studies applied to sensory/visual experience. The area also investigates the philosophical roots of contemporary cultures, in order to identify not only the influence exerted by specific thinkers and schools of thought, but also their significance for contemporary discussions.
  6. Research methods in human sciences. This research area concerns the main methodological and ethical issues in research in human sciences disciplines. Theories of knowledge as well as theoretical, historical and empirical research methods are discussed and deeply investigated, allowing the development of a rigorous and science-based knowledge of human and social phenomena, which respects participants as well as the complexity of the study objects. Research lines are as follows: Philosophy of knowledge, Epistemology and qualitative research methods, Quantitative research methods and techniques, Research ethics.
Training programme and experience abroad
The training programme consists of study and research activities, including lectures, seminars, and laboratories held by experts from Italian and foreign Universities. The teaching plan combines both interdisciplinary elements – intended to provide a high level of mastery in English and computer literacy and statistical skills – and the discipline-specific elements that provide the knowledge and research methodologies specific to the particular field of interest. The PhD programme includes a period of training and research at a Host University abroad, for at least 3 months for students enrolled in the Philosophy and Education curricula, and 12 months – consecutive or not – for students enrolled in the international Psychology curriculum (see below); the programme also encourages joint thesis-supervision agreements.

With regard to the doctoral experience abroad, the Education curriculum offers an international exchange programme in Education and Learning of Adults (research area no.2) in collaboration with Aalborg University (DK). The Psychology curriculum offers an international doctoral programme in Cognitive Psychology and Linguistics (research area no.5) in collaboration with Lund University (SE), and international exchange programmes in Developmental and Educational Psychology-Language acquisition (research area no.3) in collaboration with Ohio State University (USA) and the University of Colorado, Boulder (USA), and Work and Organizational Psychology (research area no.2) in collaboration with the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven (BE) and Eindhoven University of Technology (NL).

Further information
Further information about:
1- Specific learning outcomes
2- Basic expected outcomes
are in the attached files in the Documents section.

Board Meeting schedule, PhD Programme in Human Sciences 

Course details

3 years
Degree class
DOTTORATI - PHD – PhD programmes (university)
Supervisory body
Board of the PhD programme in Human Sciences A.Y. 2018/2019
Segreteria Scuola di Dottorato di Scienze Umanistiche
Teaching and course administration
Operational unit PhD Unit
Graduate School
Arts and Humanities
Main Department
Human Sciences
Macro area
Subject area
Education, Philosophy and Social Work