Skip to main content

PhD Programme in 

Neural and cognitive sciences

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.

  • Neurobiology, neurogenesis, and cellular neurophysiology
  • Clinical neurosciences
  • Perception, action and attention
  • Memory, language, and executive control
  • Thinking, judgment and decision making
  • Comparative psychology
  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Typical and atypical development
  • Personality and social psychology
  • Sport psychology

The PhD Programme in Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences (NeSC) offers students a training oriented towards the interdisciplinary study of the central and peripheral nervous system, the mind/brain system, cognitive abilities and their applications in clinical, social, ergonomic and sports settings. Taken into account the CV of the enrolled student and the guidance provided by the supervisors, the PhD Academic Board defines an individual program, with a component aimed at completing the basic preparation and a specific third-level component focused on skills relevant to producing original research.

Each PhD student is supported in their study and research activities by two tutors (i.e., supervisor, co-supervisor). To ensure adequate support for each PhD student, the activities of the supervisor are limited to a small number of students (maximum 2).

The educational activities provided by the NeSC-DSV PhD Programme will include: formal lectures (frontal teaching), journal clubs, seminars by faculty members and external experts, writing and presenting interim reports, periods abroad, participation in conferences, scientific outreach initiatives, and summer schools for young researchers. The teaching provided by the NeSC PhD Programme differs in themes and research methodologies from those of the first and second levels. In particular, the frontal teaching provided by the NeSC PhD Programme is organized into four different thematic clusters but consistent with the educational amis of the Programme:

• Cluster Methods and Assessments: acquisition of knowledge related to research methodologies and measurements (e.g., EEG/TMS, R language, research designs for high-level processes).
• Cluster Ethics in Research: development of research protocols for the Ethics Committee, acquisition of knowledge related to open science.
• Cluster Mind and Brain: in-depth lessons on topics relevant to neuroscience and cognitive sciences (e.g., clinical psychodiagnostics-elements of psychopathology; psychophysiology).
• Cluster Communicating and Publishing Results: acquisition of knowledge and practical exercises for scientific writing and communication (e.g., exercises on abstract construction; writing and revising a scientific article).

The frontal teaching activities (planned) are available online on the PhD Programme's webpage (Syllabus):

The types of frontal teaching activities and the topics of the activities are classified as recommended for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year or transversal across the three years. Each course is associated with its duration (in hours) and the corresponding number of credits (CFU). Students are free to choose a subset of courses, knowing that 8 hours of course = 1 CFU and that enrolled students must achieve a minimum of 8 CFU = 64 hours (maximum 10 CFU = 80 hours) of frontal teaching activities offered by the PhD Programme.

The breakdown of frontal teaching hours (the number of courses that students can choose from is indicated in brackets) recommended according to the year is:
I – 28H (3) – 20H (2) – 24H (3)
II – 24H (2) – 16H (2) – 24H (2)
III – 0 – 0 – 24H (2)

The breakdown of frontal teaching hours (the number of courses that students can choose from is indicated in brackets) classified as transversal across the three years is:
8h (1) – 8h (1)

As an integral part of the Communicating and Publishing Results cluster, the cross-cutting course "research report audit" represents a crucial moment for presentation, exchange, and discussion on topics relevant to one's research activity and mutual enrichment in terms of knowledge.

Like other PhD's at the University, NeSC PhD students must complete activities over the three-year period that allow them to acquire at least 20 credits (CFU) of training. Of these, 13 CFU are mandatory and linked to three types of activities: a) frontal teaching offered by the PhD courses (minimum 8 CFU - maximum 10 CFU); b) transversal teaching offered by the university (minimum 4 CFU - maximum 8 CFU); participation in conferences, conventions, or workshops (minimum 1 CFU - maximum 6 CFU). NeSC PhD students also have access to and can attend third-level cross-cutting courses organized by the University, as well as national and international scientific events. The remaining 7 CFU can be chosen freely from the listed activities and others such as: attending university courses relevant to the PhD Programme (respecting the CFU of specific courses), participating in national or international schools (1 CFU = two days), third mission activities (1 CFU = two days), and integrative activities (e.g., mentoring activities, 1 CFU = 8 hours for activities that do not award CFU).

The training project is updated and reviewed annually in light of scientific developments in the relevant areas. The training project also benefits from periodic consultations (including the period preceding accreditation) with former PhD students and professionals engaged in roles and professional figures consistent with those envisaged. The PhD Programme has a system for monitoring the processes and results of research, teaching, and third mission/social impact activities of each PhD student and for each cycle (e.g., This monitoring process constitutes an element for revising the training project. Additionally, the NeSC PhD Programme, in the phase of constructing the teaching plan, relies on the results of surveys and analysis of student opinions through an annual questionnaire/survey. The training path, consistent with the educational objectives, is made public through the website

The training and research path is adequately supported by financial resources (equal to 10% of the PhD scholarship amount) and financial integrations made available by the supervising professors, whose use is managed by the Administrative Secretariat of the relevant Department. The Coordinator, jointly with the Administrative Secretariat and the respective tutors, monitors the use of funds for the study and research activities of PhD students.

The aims of the PhD Programme are diversified and interconnected, covering:

a. Acquisition of advanced knowledge on topics relevant to the NeSC PhD Programme.

b. Development of critical analysis skills for relevant literature related to the individual research plan and the cross-cutting themes addressed in the Mind & Brain cluster. 

c. Acquisition of skills for formulating research and intervention projects autonomously, managing data collection by integrating methods from biological and psychological sciences, evaluating results, proposing technological and clinical innovations, and working in multidisciplinary groups. This objective is supported by the teaching provided by the PhD Programme in the Methods & Assessment and Ethics in Research clusters. 

d. Acquisition of knowledge and skills necessary for communicating research results in scientific contexts (e.g., conferences, workshops). A fundamental objective of the PhD Programme is the production of research articles for peer-reviewed journals. To support this aim, the teaching provided by the PhD Programme over the three years includes lectures and exercises described in the Communicating and Publishing Results cluster. 

e. The training activity involves acquiring knowledge and skills relevant to third mission activities, such as scientific dissemination and social engagement. To support this aim, the teaching provided by the PhD Programme includes courses on scientific dissemination. Given the fact that public engagement actions are requested during the year following the accreditation of the PhD Programme, the PhD Academic Board promptly informs PhD students about these actions and trains the students who will participate in the events. Additionally, PhD students will be involved in the annual orientation activity for students enrolled in the Master's Degree program at the University of Trieste. 

f. The PhD Programme promotes mobility and internationalization objectives through: 1) participation in frontal teaching by external professors from UNITS, such as the University of Udine and the University of Bologna, thus facilitating exchanges with other Italian locations; 2) students' participation in study and research activities at other Italian and foreign universities with which the NeSC PhD Programme has established collaborations (e.g., University of Padova; Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, BE); 3) promotion of study and research activities supported by the Erasmus+ program; 4) seminar opportunities, including international ones (e.g., seminars by visiting professors from international universities), offered by the Department of Life Sciences, where the NeSC PhD Programme is based; 5) co-supervision of PhD students by professors from international universities; although already active, the presence of international co-supervisors will be strengthened by expanding the network of foreign universities collaborating with the NeSC PhD Programme.

According to the professional and occupational opportunities offered, the aim of the Programme includes the training of the PhD in Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences, a professional figure who, upon completion of the PhD, will be able to:

  • Engage in professional activities with specific and high-level skills in the fields of neurobiology, neuroengineering, psychology and related disciplines, within public and private research centers, industry, healthcare, and public administration.
  • Conduct professional activities related to the development of technology and experimental methods relevant to neuroscience and cognitive sciences, with applications including basic research, clinical and pharmacological research, cognitive ergonomics, improvement of sports performance and rehabilitation.
  • Undertake professional activities involved in the promotion and high-level dissemination of scientific knowledge relating to theoretical, experimental and applied aspects of neuroscience and cognitive sciences disciplines.
  • Engage in professional and research activities relevant to the educational and learning sector, with particular reference to disabilities.
  • Conduct research activities relevant to the development of evidence-based policies in the public administration and the development of skills relevant to the organizational and managerial aspects of third-sector entities.

The employability rate in the last 3 years (2019-21, Almalaurea) is estimated to be above 75%. Consistent with this data, an informal monitoring conducted by the College over three PhD cycles, specifically from the XXXII to the XXXIV cycles (ending in 2019, 2020, and 2021), allowed monitoring the employability of (former) PhD students until approximately mid-2023. This monitoring highlighted that 100% of former students had employment two years after the end of their PhD Programme. Specifically, 20% had found employment in academia (as research fellows, post-docs), 13.3% had found employment in the educational sector outside of academia, 40% had found employment in the corporate sector (research and development), while 13.3% were engaged in freelance work and the remaining 13.3% had found employment in the national healthcare system.


Andrea Carnaghi - Coordinator

Phone: 040 5586111

Department of Life Sciences
Via Weiss 2 - Pal. Q - 34128, Trieste

Mauro Bianchi - Deputy Coordinator


Department of Life Sciences
Via Weiss 2 - Pal. Q - 34128, Trieste

Ultimo aggiornamento