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Phd Programme in 

History, Philosophy and Political-Social Studies

Length: 3 years
Organizing university: University of Trieste
Official language: Italian
Credits: 20
Admission: by selection 
Application deadline: 13 June 2024 01:00 pm (CEST)

PhD Programme

Organizing Department

Call for applications

In this section you will find competition notices.

Board of Examiners

In this section you will find the Board of Examiners of the competition.

Assessments and shortlist

In this section you will find the competition assessments and shortlist.

  • CURRICULUM: Historical Studies

1. Authoritarianism and socio-political conflict in the contemporary age

2. Historical forms of power: republics, monarchies and empires

3. Ideas, people and goods in the medieval and modern ages

4. Private memories and collective history

5. Politics and religion in Europe, from the ancient regime to the contemporary

6. History of schools and internationalization of tertiary education

7. Gender history

8. Economic and military history

9. Global history, public history and local history

10. Structures and cultures of border areas

  • CURRICULUM: Philosophical and Political-Social Studies

1. Material culture, identity and community

2. Democracy, legitimacy and representativeness of political authority

3. Political institutions and decision-making process 

4. Logic, theories of truth, science and philosophy of language

5. New philosophies of nature

6. Politics, history and institutions of non-European countries

7. Principles in ethics and bioethics, cognitivism and particularism

8. Perspectives of theoretic philosophy, history of philosophy and political thought

9. International relations and globalization processes

10. Challenges of religions and theology to the philosophical debate

The training provided over the three years is structured around the following axes:

  • Development of skills leading to the production of scientific results: Emphasis is placed on acquiring skills that enable the production of scientifically significant results suitable for presentation at conferences or publication in monographs and specialized journals.
  • Maturation of argumentative and communicative abilities: Active participation in proposed training activities fosters the development of argumentative and communicative skills.
  • Enhancement of teamwork and interaction with other researchers: The course aims to increase disposition towards group work and collaboration with fellow researchers, promoting interaction and collaboration.
  • Ability to address challenges placed by contemporary associative living: Training includes the capacity to tackle issues arising from contemporary associative living, with a focus on sustainability and democratic processes.
  • Ability to analyze social crises, cultural emergencies and issues related to the integration of political and social communities.
  • Potential disposition for teamwork in complex organizations, both nationally and internationally.
  • Predisposition to apply knowledge in integrated collaboration with social partners and public decision-makers, with a view to guiding political and social decisions.
  • Ability to support public engagement actions and disseminate knowledge in various social contexts, including internationally.
  • Predisposition to apply knowledge in activities aimed at enhancing cultural heritage and its dissemination in the integrated international context.
  • Development of skills to reflect on the socio-political changes linked to the evolution of AI. Role of digital philosophy in the broader contemporary philosophical landscape.
  • Capacity to analyze the connection between the social and political evolution of our societies and the development and dissemination of science.
  • Development of skills to address a truly interdisciplinary education involving all three aspects of the Doctorate: history, philosophy, and political and social sciences.

The training is indeed oriented towards interdisciplinarity based on a global, diachronic, and comparative perspective. Particular attention is paid to the development of advanced and autonomous research skills, both in terms of scientific understanding and the social impact of research. The main research training activity involves in-depth exploration, within the scope of the thesis under the guidance of one or more instructors, of original and innovative topics that typically lead to the publication of results and their presentation at specialized conferences. Training objectives are achieved through personalized training and research plans tailored to the theme of the thesis.

Two curricula are planned, offering PhD students a broad and articulated range of perspectives and themes that will intertwine within the framework of training activities, demonstrating the essential and fruitful interaction between different methods and perspectives. For each curriculum, specific teaching, seminar, and laboratory activities are activated, some of which are common to both curricula.

The curriculum in Historical Studies is dedicated to socio-economic, institutional, political, cultural, and religious history and also includes the theme of "border," understood as a node of complex social and spatial phenomena of a dynamic nature, from a general perspective not only limited to the borders of the current Friuli Venezia Giulia Region. The analytical dimension ranges from the local to the global, encompassing all traditional articulations of European historiography: from the village to the city, from the countryside to the State and the nation. All disciplinary approaches are considered, provided they adhere to a rigorous historical method. The proposed research, even of long and very long periods, falls within the timeframe from the Middle Ages to the present day. Recently, elements of the history of science have also been introduced, important for understanding essential aspects of historical evolution from the 16th-17th century to the present day. The historical curriculum aims to provide a general overview of the complex and multifaceted process that has led to the current international socio-political configuration. In addition to this high-level general training, PhD students are given the opportunity to discuss with instructors the most significant historical aspects, as evidenced by the lectures and theses that have been assigned.

The focus of the curriculum in Philosophical and Political-Social Studies concerns contemporary debate, with particular reference to cultural pluralism and ongoing human transformations. This complexity is addressed based on different methodological approaches of philosophical interpretation and political-social analysis. Among these approaches, there will be a significant role played by reflection on theoretical assumptions, with particular consideration for phenomenological, analytical and hermeneutic perspectives, as well as conceptual analysis of the work tools of both the philosopher and the historian of ideas or the social and cognitive scientist, including the analysis of linguistic, discursive, and dialogical dimensions of phenomena and themes of philosophical and political-social relevance identified as objects of study. The complex relationship between philosophy and exact sciences will not be overlooked, aiming at reflecting on the role that philosophers can play today in the conceptual evolution of scientific issues. In this context, the problem of whether philosophy is merely a reflection on science or whether it can suggest new ideas to scientists themselves will be discussed. A current topic in the philosophical-scientific debate is that of neuroscience and the relationship between brain and mind. Our doctoral program actively engages with this, as evidenced by the lectures scheduled for the spring of 2023. The philosophy of the digital will be another of the topics addressed in the Doctorate. This can be done considering that several instructors in the College teach in the Philosophy and Digital Transformation degree program.

The training plan for individual doctoral students, developed in agreement with the supervisor (and co-supervisor) and approved by the college, taking into account the objectives of the individual research program, previous preparation, interests, and attitudes, establishes:

  • The study and research activities expected to be carried out during the year, including off-site activities (research periods abroad, participation in conferences and workshops).
  • The training activities provided by the educational offer, including activities in addition to those mandatory.

The educational offer is defined by the Coordinator in collaboration with the PhD Academic Board. It may be updated and integrated over the three years.

The educational offer is designed to enhance specific and cohesive methodological, theoretical, historiographical and political science skills, with reference to the main research lines related to the two curricula. As detailed below (4. Training project), a total of 80 hours of doctoral education will be provided, with 32 hours common to both curricula in the first year of the course and 24 hours differentiated for each curriculum in the second year of the course.

Regarding laboratory and seminar activities, particular attention is given to acquiring skills for disseminating humanistic knowledge in both academic and non-academic contexts, using various types of language, tools, and techniques, with a special focus on those related to informatics. Specifically, the educational offer consists of:

(i) Mandatory courses and teachings (for a total of 80 hours over the three years across both curricula), primarily of a methodological nature or addressing current topics relevant to the individual curricula, delivered by members of the College or external specialists, distinguished by academic year and distributed over the two semesters of each academic year.

(ii) Mandatory specialized seminars and workshops, which may involve interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary training (such as language and computer skills enhancement, soft skills development, training in research management and valorization, intellectual property, and knowledge of European and international research systems, also in reference to the professional outcomes of doctoral programs). These activities may be coordinated and delivered by members of the college, external specialists, or provided as cross-cutting educational activities by the University.

(iii) Optional training experiences, external to the doctoral program's curriculum, which are functional to the execution of the individual research program, subject to the approval of the supervisor and the college.

(iv) Assessments: Written reports or classroom presentations are scheduled for the courses in the first and second years, covering topics agreed upon with the course instructors.

Annually, the PhD Academic Board evaluates the status of individual research and the outcomes of the training activities carried out by PhD students for the purpose of admission to the next academic year and for the thesis evaluation phase.

In the case of industrial doctoral positions, the training project of the doctoral student is established in collaboration with the participating company. Adjustments regarding the educational offer are possible, particularly through the option (iii), which involves identifying external training experiences that are functional to the execution of the individual research program, subject to approval by the university supervisor, the company supervisor and the coordinator.

The aim of the PhD Programme is unified with some thematic and perspective specificities that differentiate the various curricula. The inter-university doctorate promotes a Programme in which historical, philosophical and political studies are integrated coherently, both in terms of empirical-positivist and theoretical-normative aspects. It aims to offer PhD students, on one hand, a methodological "toolbox" and a cultural background as common as possible to different areas of study and research, and on the other hand, a solid specialized training through the definition of paths, which may, in some cases, also intertwine with each other, with particular reference to:

a) the study of historiographical perspectives and history; 

b) the study of philosophical thought in its theoretical, ethical, and epistemological components; 

c) the study of cognitive paradigms, in scientific and humanistic fields; 

d) the interaction between anthropological, philosophical, and socio-historical perspectives; 

e) scientific development and technological advancement as dimensions of human action and therefore as components of humanism;

a) the study of public political institutions; 

b) political philosophy, normative political theory, and applied ethics; 

c) international studies and studies of non-European countries; 

d) political communication, public opinion, and political behavior.

The PhD Programme aims to train not only young researchers competitive in the international academic market but also professionals capable of carrying out research, consultancy, coordination and management tasks in private research centers, think tanks, political and economic organizations, both private and public, at regional, national, and international levels.

The purpose is to train scholars capable of:

  • Identifying broad scientific issues in the fields of history, philosophy, and socio-political studies;
  • Designing and conducting specific research within these areas or organically connected to them;
  • Developing and positioning innovative and complex research projects;
  • Selecting and applying diverse methodologies appropriate to the research objectives;
  • Identifying and competently using the necessary sources and critically analyzing facts, documents, works, themes, concepts, methods and contexts.
  • Identify and use international bibliography;
  • Organize and present collected material clearly and systematically;
  • Produce scientific texts.
  • Additionally, through workshops and seminars, the PhD Programme aims to support doctoral candidates in developing the following personal and professional skills (soft skills):
  • Interact with others, work in groups, and operate effectively in open, multicultural, and flexible contexts;
  • Manage projects, considering available resources, both material and non-material;
  • Manage communication tools, disseminate one's activities and speak and present publicly;
  • Adapt and respond to environmental and work-related challenges;
  • Define and manage one's career path, keeping an eye open for new professional opportunities;
  • Deepen the study of historical processes and scientific theories in historical, philosophical, and political science disciplines;
  • Master empirical research methodologies in all three areas;
  • Develop a strong theoretical awareness in relevant doctoral thematic areas;
  • Demonstrate the competencies and professional skills necessary to interpret and "govern" the evolving dynamics of contemporary social, political, economic, and institutional phenomena, including consideration for equal opportunities and international cooperation processes.

The aims will be pursued, first and foremost, through the creation of a community of students and teachers who, by sharing knowledge and expertise from various areas of the humanities, history, philosophy and political and social sciences, will develop methodological and conceptual tools to enhance and, at the same time, overcome disciplinary boundaries.

The doctoral training provided is based on the aim of equipping PhD researchers with the necessary skills not only to potentially continue research activities in academic fields (such as historical, philosophical, and socio-political research and/or teaching in Italian and foreign universities), in schools (in Italy or abroad), or in public and private research institutions, but also to cover high-level positions in various professional fields, including the two main areas of culture and communication and scientific-cultural design. Thanks to its multidisciplinarity and flexibility, the PhD offers high-level preparation for entering the workforce or for enhancing the skills of those already in employment and seeking improvement. An important job opportunity for PhD researchers is the academic world: indeed, by law, the doctorate is an essential tool for training future researchers and university professors. However, graduates of this Programme also find employment opportunities: in public administration, in high-level roles offered by central and peripheral government institutions and research institutions; in private institutions and companies, such as foundations and research institutes; in journalism and communication; and finally, in international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, thanks to their preparation and flexibility in tackling professional tasks in the fields of:

Culture and communication: publishing, cultural journalism, scientific journalism, management of museums, libraries, archives, study centers, superintendencies, public and private institutions, associations, cultural foundations.
Scientific-cultural design: experts in European, transnational, and regional design.
Creative enterprises in the cultural sector characterized by high know-how.
In summary, PhD graduates will be able to enter the fields of highly specialized intellectual and scientific professions, leadership in state administration and humanitarian, cultural, and scientific organizations of national and supranational interest, particularly in the academic research sector, in the field of education, publishing, public communication, and business.

In particular, building on the skills acquired in the two curricula, they may find professional opportunities in fields related to learning, the development and management of editorial projects or programs, cultural activities, communication activities specialized in internet, activities related to cultural journalism and multimedia, educational activities from the perspective of lifelong learning across different ages, theoretical-empirical research on social, historical, and philosophical issues, and finally, in the establishment of professionalism that can operate in the cultural heritage sector in museums, public and private institutions, foundations, and associations.


Giuseppe Ieraci - Coordinator

Phone: 040 5583516

Department of Political and Social Sciences
Piazzale Europa 1 - 34127, Trieste

Paolo Bussotti- Deputy Coordinator

Phone: 334 7551226

Department of Studi Umanistici e del patrimonio culturale
Vicolo Florio, 2/B - 33100, Udine

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