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Doctoral School

Through its PhD programmes, the Doctoral School offers the highest level of specialisation, both in terms of research and of specific contribution to dialogue with society. The aim of the Doctoral School is to support each student’s specialisation process by developing and coordinating the necessary strategies, and by applying the interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary approach that is typical of Sophia.

PhD Programmes

Every PhD programmes is a postgraduate study and research programme. Upon its completion, candidates are awarded the international title of Ph.D. (Philosophiae Doctor). Our Doctoral School offers programmes in:

Trinitarian Ontology with specialisations in:
  • Philosophy
  • Theology
  • Epistemology
Economic and Political Sciences with specialisations in:
  • Political Theory
  • International Relations
  • Economics and Management
Culture of Unity with specialisations to be determined by the Doctoral School Council according to each candidate’s research project.
* Candidates have the option to pursue a Joint PhD, a Dual or Double PhD, or a PhD under joint supervision in agreement with other Universities or Higher Education Institutions.

Structure of the Doctoral School

Head of the School: Prof. Giuseppe Argiolas

Deputy Head: Prof. Marco Luppi

The Doctoral School Council comprises the Head, the Deputy Head and the Department Coordinators.

The Council examines PhD applications and supervises the admissions process and the evaluation of candidates. Successful applications are selected on the basis of the submitted research proposals.

Student duties

PhD candidates are given the opportunity to embark on a unique life and study experience as part of the Sophia academic project. For this reason, they are strongly encouraged to follow the scheduled programme every year, and particularly to attend:

a) PhD Week, dedicated to research skills development and to the study of the Institute’s disciplinary, interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary programme;

b) Seminars for the chosen study area.

Knowledge of at least two modern languages is required; knowledge of more than two languages may be required depending on the chosen discipline and research topic (knowledge of English is a prerequisite for the PhD in Economic and Political Sciences – specialisation in Economics and Management).

The choice of the language in which the thesis will be written should be discussed by each candidate with the Supervisor and must receive approval by the Doctoral School Council.

Admission to the Doctoral School: procedure and deadlines

Applicants for PhD should normally hold a Master’s degree or an equivalent qualification earned after a minimum of five years of study (300 ECTS or more). The statutory duration of the programme is three academic years. However, it may be extended.

Applicants are requested to submit the following documents to the Registrar’s Office by 15th February of the academic year before the intended start of the PhD programme:

a) the standard PhD application form, in which candidates should briefly state their motivations for choosing to study at Sophia;

b) a research proposal (10,000 characters minimum, spaces included) addressing the following points:

  • a presentation of the topic, with precise references to the published literature and the motivation behind the choice of the subject area;
  • the hypotheses to be tested;
  • the methodology to be used in the research;
  • a provisional bibliography.

Applicants should also submit:

a) their personal and professional CV;

b) complete academic records for each qualification obtained;

c) documentation of any other relevant study or research activity they may have undertaken;

d) a copy of their Master’s dissertation or other academically recognised document of an equivalent standard and a copy of their publications (if applicable).

Each candidate will be contacted for an interview with one or more Sophia professors (in person or online), which will take place before 15th March. Application decisions will be made by the end of March. Successful candidates will be notified by the Registrar’s Office and informed of the choice of a Supervisor designated for them by the Council.

PhD candidates who have not completed a Master’s degree at Sophia will be expected to attend courses and pass the corresponding exams for a minimum of 30 ECTS.

At the end of the first year, before 15th October, candidates are expected to submit a request for the final approval of their research proposal to the Head of the Doctoral School. The request should include the provisional title, the revised and detailed research proposal, a comprehensive bibliography and a suitable timetable for the project.

The Doctoral School Council will then assign each candidate two Co-Supervisors who, alongside the Supervisor, will serve as the Doctoral Committee.

At the end of the second year, candidates are expected to submit a written report on the state of their research to the Supervisor and the Head of the School. The Supervisor will then make a proposal for each candidate’s advancement to the third year or for a one-year extension (this may only be done twice).

Pre-discussion and final public discussion

At the end of the third year, upon request by the Supervisor, the Head of the Doctoral School convenes the Committee for a pre-discussion, with the aim of examining the scientific value of the candidate’s research, its innovative contribution to knowledge, and its completeness in view of the public discussion. At the end of the pre-discussion, the thesis receives an evaluation, the candidate is advised on any necessary changes and integrations to be made, and the date for the final discussion is set.

At the end of the public discussion, the candidate is awarded the title of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). This is followed by the publication of the thesis in the Institute Library and/or on the Institute website.