Call 2018/2019

Call 2017 - 2018

Call for application to 15 positions in the PhD courses of the Scuola Normale Superiore for the academic year 2018-2019. 1. Number of scholarships, subject areas, educational objectives 1.1 For the academic year 2018-2019 the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) hereby announces a call for application to 15 PhD positions in the following fields and sites. The selection is based on candidates’ qualifications and interviews. Pisa site


1 position
reserved for candidates who attained their MA/MS (or equivalent) degree in a non-Italian university (art. 1.5)
2 positions
1 of which reserved for candidates who attained their MA/MS (or equivalent) degree in a non-Italian university (art. 1.5)
Methods and Models for Molecular Sciences 4 positions  
2 positions
1 of which in collaboration with the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Center for Nanotechnology and Innovation – CNI)*
Neurosciences 2 positions

* scholarship with a specific research topic and site see art.1.4 Florence site

Political Science and Sociology 4 positions

1.2 Further positions in collaboration with other institutions could be available before the deadline set for the applications.

1.3 All successful candidates will receive scholarships and further funding for their study and research activities in accordance with article 6 of this call; course enrolment and attendance are tax-exempt.

1.4 Some of the places available can be aimed at developing a specific research topic; candidates applying for these places are required to hold particular skills that will be evaluated by the selection committees, according to the following article 4. Moreover, candidates selected for the places with a specific research topic will largely pursue their research at the site of the institution which grants the scholarship. The specific conditions of the scholarships with a specific topic are described on the website of the SNS, at this page

1.5 For each PhD course, one place is reserved for candidates who attained their MA/MS (or equivalent) degree in a non-Italian university. This place will be filled by one candidate only, chosen from among all applicants in both the competition regulated by call no. 26 of 16 January 2017 and the competition here announced.

1.6 More PhD places may be available later, in accordance with specific agreements financed by international Institutions; admission to these places will be based on the rules decided in each agreement, and will have no bearing on this call.

1.7 The courses have the following duration:

  • “Classics” – 3 years;
  • “Physics”; “Methods and Models for Molecular Sciences”; “Nanosciences”; “Neurosciences”; “Political Science and Sociology” – 4 years.

All courses will start on 1 November 2018.

1.8 The courses will be mainly held in English. The course in “Classics” is both in Italian and English.

1.9 Candidates’ level of competence, talent, motivations and aptitudes to scientific research will be assessed on the basis of their qualifications and their research project and an interview.

1.10 Candidates are admitted to the interview on the basis of an evaluation of their qualifications and of a research project written in Italian or in English (of no more than around 20,000 characters, spaces included). The research project must reveal candidates’ scientific interests and their cohesion with the scientific lines upheld by the SNS, although this project will not be a determining factor in their subsequent choice of the thesis. The project must show candidates’ full awareness of the state of the art in the selected scientific field and competence in the research methods within the discipline, and must include an adequate bibliography.

1.11 The PhD course involves teaching, seminars and research activities: the educational programs, adjusted for each individual student, are designed to broaden their cultural base and to prepare them for research with the aim of obtaining a particularly high level of specialization in the scientific area. Students of the PhD courses follow their studies in accordance with annually approved plans, and they can obtain authorization and funding to spend periods of study and research in other highly qualified university or scientific institutions in Italy or abroad. At the end of the course, providing all due obligations have been fulfilled, the student will attain the title of Philosophiæ Doctor (PhD).

1.12 In accordance with the Italian regulations (Ministerial Decree no. 45 of 8 February 2013) the PhD courses can be activated by the Universities every year only on approval of the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR), and if the required standards are respected and maintained. Therefore, after the publication of the final ranking list, the successful candidates will be enrolled only if approval has been received for the 34th cycle.

2. Requisites for admission

2.1 Applications are invited from candidates who, irrespective of their citizenship, have an Italian laurea magistrale (MA/MS degree) or an equivalent degree awarded abroad, or who expect to have obtained the degree required for admission by 31 October 2018. Failure to obtain a degree by this date will disqualify the candidate from admission. Degrees awarded abroad will be examined by the selection committee, merely for the purposes of the selection process, , in accordance with the prevailing legislation in Italy and in the country where the degree was issued, and with any international treaties or agreements for the recognition of degrees for the continuation of studies.

2.2 Admission to the selection process is restricted to candidates who:

  • were born after 31 October 1988;
  • have no past criminal charges resulting in a prison term of more than three years;
  • have not been subject to the disciplinary measure of “expulsion” as specified in the didactic regulations of the SNS;
  • are not in possession of a research doctorate issued by an Italian university, and in any case have never benefitted from a scholarship for attending a research doctorate course in Italy.

2.3 Admission interviews can be conducted in Italian or English; the admission interview for the PhD course in “Political Science and Sociology” and “Methods and Models for Molecular Sciences” must be conducted in English. The candidate’s level of competence in the Italian and English language must be stated in the application, with reference to the EUROPASS language grid (

3. Admission to the selection process

3.1 Applications for admission to the selection process must be registered online by 23:59 CET of Thursday, 14 June 2018. The online procedure will be activated within the section dedicated to the call on the SNS web site, at the address All applications received and registered online after the stipulated date and time will be rejected whatever the cause of delay. Applicants are strongly advised to check that they have received notification via email of the registration of their application; the SNS is not responsible for application procedures not correctly concluded. Candidates are advised not to wait until the last few days before the deadline to present their application; the SNS cannot accept responsibility for any malfunctioning due to technical problems, overloading of the communication line and/or the application systems, for communications that go astray on account of incorrect indications in the application or errors ascribed to third parties, accidental circumstances or force majeure.

3.2 The application must include, in addition to personal details, forwarding addresses and proof of qualification for admission, the discipline – or disciplines – for which the candidate intends to compete.

3.3 Candidates interested in one or more positions with an assigned research topic, as described in article 1.4, must specify their choice in the application procedure, but they compete anyway also for the other scholarships of the PhD course.

3.4 Candidates must also indicate the names and email addresses of at least two academics, to whom the SNS will apply for a reference in support of their candidature. Failure to include any references will not exclude a candidate from the competition.

3.5 Candidates must enclose with their application the following documents in PDF format:

  • a valid copy of a document of identity (citizens of countries not belonging to the European Union should preferably enclose a copy of a valid passport, including the pages bearing a photograph, personal details, passport number and place and date of issue);
  • a curriculum vitae et studiorum in the Europass-CV format, available at the following web site:
  • their thesis for the laurea magistrale (MA/MS degree) or overseas equivalent, accompanied by an abstract in the English language; candidates who do not submit their laurea magistrale certificate by the application deadline for admission must present an extended abstract in Italian or English (of not more than around 25,000 characters); the extended abstract is also compulsory when the thesis is printed in a language other than Italian or English;
  • a diploma supplement or equivalent document relating to achievement examinations completed and degree grade obtained; citizens of countries not belonging to the European Union and not resident in Italy must enclose a certificate attesting to possession of the degree, the date it was attained, the university that issued it and the final grade; candidates who have obtained an equivalent degree outside Italy in a country not belonging to the European Union must enclose a certificate of attainment of the degree translated into English if the original is in another language;
  • a copy of any publications;
  • the research project as described in article 1.10 of this call. Candidates must upload a different research proposal for each place they are applying for; candidates applying for the scholarships with a specific research topic, in accordance with article 1.4 of this call, can also add different research proposals for each place.

All enclosed documents must be in English or Italian; any documents in other languages must be accompanied, under the responsibility of the candidate, by a translation in Italian or English.

3.6 Candidates are admitted with reservation; those not in possession of the appropriate requisites may be excluded by the director at any time during the selection procedure. Those excluded will be notified of the decision and the reason for exclusion.

4. Evaluation of qualifications and interviews

4.1 For the evaluation of candidates’ aptitude for scientific research and their basic preparedness to tackle the course program, each selection committee will have a hundred points at its disposal for each candidate: sixty for the evaluation of their qualifications and forty for the interview. Candidates will be admitted to the interview if they receive at least forty points in the evaluation of their qualifications. To pass the interview, candidates must attain at least thirty points. Suitability for the PhD course is subject to passing the interview.

4.2 Qualifications will be evaluated as a whole.

4.3 The outcome of the evaluation and the notice of admission to the interview will be published by Monday, 9 July 2018.

4.4 The interviews will take place at the SNS sites starting on Monday, 16 July 2018.

4.5 The committees must conclude the process by Thursday, 26 July 2018.

4.6 Candidates must bring to the interview a valid document of identification. Failure to attend the interviews, for whatever reason, will entail exclusion from the selection.

4.7 Candidates who do not reside in Italy can sit the interview online, using procedures guaranteeing their identification and the public nature of the interview. The interview on line is also allowed to the candidates who are working or studying abroad. The committees can also authorize the online interview for other specific circumstances. The interview can be conducted in Italian or English; the interview for the PhD course in “Methods and models for molecular sciences” and “Political Science and Sociology” must be conducted in English.

4.8 For admission to the course in “Classics”, during the interview the selection committees will verify the candidates’ level of competence in Italian and their ability to participate satisfactorily in the educational and research activities that the course will involve. Successful candidates will be offered Italian courses for different levels of knowledge.

4.9 The list of candidates admitted to the interview and the score obtained in the evaluation of their qualifications will be published, together with the date and time of the interview, on the SNS web site and on the official online noticeboard. Inclusion in the list of those admitted has notification status for those involved, who should attend for interview on the day and time indicated without the necessity for further notification.

4.10 On the basis of the evaluation of qualifications and research program and the results of the interview, the selection committee will judge candidates’ suitability and place them in descending order in a classification list.

4.11 After the evaluation of the qualifications and the oral interview, the selection committees will create two different ranking lists, one for each position with a specific research topic and one for all other positions.

4.12 At the conclusion of the interviews, should two or more candidates obtain the same score, priority will be given to the youngest candidate. The results will be published on the SNS web site and on the official online noticeboard.

4.13 Candidates whose qualifications are judged suitable, and who subsequently attend an interview, will be reimbursed for any documented travelling expenses over 50 euros and up to a maximum of 350 euros for candidates coming from Italy and 700 euros for those coming from other countries. The amount of the reimbursement will be calculated based on the place of residence, or, if more convenient for the SNS, on the effective place of departure. Applications for reimbursement, accompanied by the original travel receipts, including boarding passes, must be submitted by 15 November 2018. Reimbursement will be granted, over and above the first 50 euros, exclusively for journeys by train (2nd class), bus, boat, or plane (in economy class and if the distance between Pisa and the place of residence is over 600 km). For candidates residing in Sardinia, air travel is always reimbursed.

5. Nomination of successful candidates, forfeiture and renouncement

5.1 The Director of the SNS will approve the final ranking list drawn up by the committees, and will appoint the successful candidates in accordance with the number of positions specified in the call.

5.2 All successful candidates failing to notify the SNS of their acceptance by the specified deadline will automatically forfeit their place.

5.3 All successful candidates failing to submit their laurea magistrale (MS/MA degree) certificate or an equivalent degree certificate awarded abroad qualifying them for admission to the PhD course by 31 October 2018 will automatically forfeit their place.

5.4 Successful candidates must submit to the SNS, by the deadline to be indicated in due course, the following documents:

  • a declaration of acceptance of statutory rules and regulations of the SNS, exonerating the SNS from any responsibility whatsoever for the consequences of any non-compliance;
  • a digital passport-size photo;
  • the certification relating to the data declared in the application form, where stipulated by Italian law.

5.5 Successful candidates in possession of a non-Italian degree must submit upon enrolment a Dichiarazione di Valore (Statement of Validity) issued by the Italian diplomatic authorities (

5.6 In accordance with article 71 of Italian Presidential Decree no. 445 of 28 December 2000, (Testo unico delle disposizioni legislative e regolamentari in materia di documentazione amministrativa) and subsequent modifications and integrations thereof, the SNS in any case reserves the right to verify the veracity of the data contained in the document of identity and in the application. Successful candidates found not to have the requisites for admission will forfeit their right to the place.

5.7 For the purposes of national insurance and in accordance with article 2, paragraph 26, of Law no. 335 of 8 August 1995, and subsequent modifications and integrations thereof, successful candidates will also be obliged to enrol in the “Gestione Separata”, the insurance fund managed by INPS, the Italian National Insurance and Pensions Office, for those who are self-employed.

5.8 Upon enrolment, successful candidates must submit to the SNS the receipt of payment of the “tassa regionale” (DSU Regional right-to-study fee). The SNS will refund the fee, if due and paid.

5.9 Successful non-EU candidates are obliged to observe the Italian and European Union rules on immigration and to regularise their status in Italy; for this purpose, they can contact the SNS relevant office that will provide in due course all the needed information.

5.10 Successful candidates must be present at the SNS by the date indicated in the notification of the nomination for the start of the course. Otherwise, in the absence of a request made beforehand and without a reason considered as valid by the SNS, they will forfeit their place.

5.11 In the case of renouncement or forfeiture of a successful candidate, the SNS has the right to proceed to a new assignation of the place available within thirty days from the start of the course, following the order of the final ranking list of suitable candidates (both of the general positions and the places with a specific research topic).

6. PhD scholarship and contributions

6.1 The PhD scholarship will be paid in twelve deferred equal monthly instalments, subject to the fulfilment of students’ academic duties.

6.2 For the academic year 2018-2019, the PhD scholarship is equal to 17,000.00 euros including a lodging allowance. Students also have the right to free meals at the SNS facilities, or at those facilities with active agreements with the SNS, for the whole duration of the course, excluding the periods of academic holidays.

6.3 As an alternative to the scholarship mentioned under the previous section, successful candidates for those positions with a specific research topic and site could be invited to sign a research contract involving a research grant or a collaboration, according to the detailed information found on our website

6.4 Successful candidates can apply to use their lodging allowance at the SNS residences, subject to availability.

6.5 PhD students can also carry out off-site study and research activities; formally authorised activities will be assigned additional funds.

6.6 Successful non-EU candidates will be reimbursed for the travelling expenses incurred for the start of the course up to a maximum of 1,000.00 euros and on presentation of the original and fiscally valid expense receipts, including the boarding passes. They can also present a justified request for an advance on the first instalment of the scholarship grant.

6.7 Non-EU PhD students can request, within a year from the end of the course, reimbursement of expenses incurred for their return to their country of provenance, again up to a maximum of 1,000.00 euros and on presentation of the original and fiscally valid expense receipts, including the boarding passes. Students not completing the course due to forfeiture can also apply for reimbursement providing at least a year has passed since the start of the course.

7. Obligations and rights of students, incompatibilities

7.1 The status of students, and their obligations and rights, are disciplined by the Statute and by the regulations of the SNS, in particular by the regulations of the PhD courses.

7.2 Admission to the course involves a full-time exclusive commitment not compatible with other activities of self-employed or employee status, or with the practising of professional activities. The PhD board can authorize the PhD students to pursue other activities as described in the article 11 of the PhD Regulation and if they are considered relevant to the PhD training activities.

7.3 Successful candidates for the PhD course at the SNS who are public employees will be subject to prevailing regulations regarding entitlement to time off work or special leave.

7.4 Attendance at the PhD course of the SNS is incompatible with concomitant enrolment in other degree or specialization courses, PhD courses, master’s degrees or other doctorate courses in Italy or abroad, unless under specific international agreements. Upon nomination, successful candidates enrolled in any of the above mentioned courses must rectify the situation within fifteen days on pain of forfeiture of the place.

8. Processing of personal data, person in charge of the procedure, deferments, information

8.1 The processing of candidates’ personal data is subject to Regulation (EU).2016/79.
The data controller is the Scuola Normale Superiore (hereinafter, “SNS”), which is a public university with headquarter in Piazza dei Cavalieri, 7 – 56126 Pisa, represented by its Director and legal representative.
The Data Protection Officer (DPO) is Dr. Massimo Asaro (tel. 050509039 – e-mail: The person in charge of the DPO role may change at any time. Its variation  will be reported on the on-line notice board of the SNS.
Personal data are collected by the SNS for the purpose of processing applications in the context of the selection procedures for the admission to its courses. For applicants that will be admitted to the courses offered by SNS, personal data will be processed for the administration of the student career and any other activity related to it.
Therefore, personal data are collected for the performance of tasks carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority, including archiving purposes, historical research purposes or statistical purposes. Personal data are processed by automated means too (software and databases managed by SNS and hosted by contractor entities such as SERSE and CINECA), in respect of accountability, lawfulness, fairness, minimization, transparency, integrity, accuracy, confidentiality and proportionality.
Personal data collected by the SNS will be disclosed or transferred to third parties (public authorities or private bodies) in the context of institutional collaborations, discharge of obligations laid down by law or by rules or by agreements, in the context of services offered by the SNS (such as placement, tutoring, access to SNS facilities, etc.).
Personal data collected by the SNS may be disclosed or transferred to entities established in third countries, following verification of the existence of an adequacy decision by the Commission, or appropriate data protection safeguards.
Personal data will be published on the on-line notice board and on the website of the SNS in the cases provided by law and by the rules of the SNS.
Personal data collected by the SNS will be processed and stored no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed, without prejudice to the enforcement of legislation for the documentation storage by public authorities.
The data subject may exercise at any time the following rights:

  • to acces personal data concerning him or her, in the cases and under the conditions referred to Article 15 of the Regulation;
  • to obtain the rectification or erasure (“right to be forgotten”) or restriction of processing of personal data concerning him or her, in the cases and under the conditions referred to Articles 15 to 18 of the Regulation; the erasure is not allowed for those data which have to be compulsory stored by the SNS;
  • to obtain data portability of personal data concerning him or her, in the cases and under the conditions referred to Article 20 of the Regulation;
  • to object to processing of personal data concerning him or her in the cases and under the conditions referred to Article 21 of the Regulation;
  • to lodge a complaint with the Italian Data Protection supervisory Authority (Garante Privacy).

The data subject may exercise his or her rights sending a request via e-mail to or via certified e-mail (PEC) to

8.2 The person in charge of the SNS academic and student office is also the administrative director of the call procedure.

8.3 For any relevant matters not mentioned in the call, the rules of the SNS Statute and regulations apply.

8.4 This call will be published on the web site , on the European Euraxess web site, and on the web site of MIUR, the Italian Ministry of Education.

8.5 For further information, please contact the personnel of the Segreteria Allievi (Student Office): Silvia Carresi, +39 050 509663, Mario Landucci, +39 050 509237, Silvia Zappulla, +39 050 509685.