Call for Applications


Call for 86 posts in PhD courses at the Scuola Normale Superiore for the academic year 2015-2016.

  1. Number of scholarships, subject areas, educational objectives

The Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) hereby announces a call for the academic year 2015-2016 based on qualifications and interviews, for a total of 86* posts for PhD courses for the following subjects and sites:

(*for the places still available in the autumn session, please check the section “PhD programs”)

Pisa Site

Philosophy 7 posts
Modern Literature and Philology 8 posts
Classics 6 posts
History of Art 5 posts
Modern and Contemporary History 5 posts
Physics 7 posts
Condensed Matter Physics 6 posts 1 of which is in collaboration with the  Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council,) 1 in collaboration with the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia and 1 in collaboration with the Fondazione Silvio Tronchetti Provera
Mathematics 6 posts
Financial Mathematics 5 posts 2 of which are in collaboration with Unicredit
Methods and Models for Molecular Sciences 4 posts
Neurosciences 5 posts
Biophysical Sciences 8 posts 1 of which is in collaboration with the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council) and 4 in collaboration with the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

Florence site

Renaissance Studies (Joint degree with the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento) 4 posts
Political Science and Sociology (Joint degree with the University  of Bologna) 10 posts

The selection process will consist of two sessions; posts not assigned at the first session will be assigned at the second session.

All winners 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 free of charge.

For each PhD course, one post is reserved for students who have attained the qualification valid for application to the call in universities in other countries.

The PhD courses have a duration of three years, save for those in “Biophysical Sciences” and in “Neurosciences”,  which have a duration of four years. All courses will start on 1st November 2015.

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

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). The research project must reveal candidates’ scientific interests and their cohesion with the scientific lines upheld by the Scuola Normale, although this project will not be a determining factor in their subsequent choice of thesis. The project must show candidates’ full awareness of the state of the art in the sector and mastery of the research methods within the discipline, and must include an adequate bibliography.

The PhD course involves teaching, seminars and research activities: the educational programmes, 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. Requisites for admission

Applications for admission are invited from candidates who, irrespective of their citizenship, have an Italian laurea magistrale or an equivalent degree from outside Italy, or who expect to have obtained the degree required for admission by 31st October 2015: failure to obtain the degree by this date will disqualify the candidate for admission. Degrees from outside Italy will be checked, merely for the purposes of the  selection process, by the call commission, 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.

Admission to the call is restricted to candidates who:

  1. were born after the 31st October 1985;
  2. have no past criminal charges against them resulting in a prison term of more than three years;
  3. have not been subject to the disciplinary measure of “expulsion” as specified in article 20 of the didactic and internal regulations of the SNS;
  4. are not in possession of a research doctorate issued by an Italian university, and in any case have never  benefitted from a scholarship to attend a research doctorate course in Italy.

The admission interviews can be done in Italian or English; the candidate’s level of competence in the language he is to be tested in must be stated in the application, with reference to the EUROPASS language grid.


  1. Admission to the selection process

Applications for admission to the selection process must be registered on-line by 23:59 CET of the following dates:

  • 28th February 2015, for the spring session;
  • 31st August 2015, for the autumn session;

the on-line procedure will be activated at the section dedicated to the call on the SNS web site at the address For each session, all applications received and registered on line after the stipulated date and time will be rejected whatever the cause of delay.

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.

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.

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

  1. 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);
  2. a curriculum vitae et studiorum  in the Europass – CV format, available at the following web site:
  3. their thesis for the laurea magistrale 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.
  4. 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;
  5. a copy of any publications;
  6. the research project as described in article 1.7 of this call.

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.

Candidates participating in the spring session whose qualifications are evaluated successfully but who have not passed the interview can apply to repeat the interview in the autumn session. All candidates not selected in the spring session can present a new application to submit further qualifications or to propose a different research project for evaluation in the autumn session.

Candidates are admitted with reserve; 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.

  1. Evaluation of qualifications and interviews

For the evaluation of candidates’ aptitude for scientific research and their basic preparedness to tackle the course programme, each admission commission 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 .

The qualifications will be evaluated as a whole.

The outcome of the evaluation of qualifications and admission to the interview will be published by the  27th March 2015 for the spring session, and by the 16th September 2015 for the autumn session.

The interviews will take place at the SNS sites on the following dates:

  • spring session: starting on 8th April 2015.
  • autumn session: starting on 21st September 2015.

The commissions must conclude the process by the 24th April 2015 for the spring session, and by the 30st September 2015 for the autumn session.

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

Candidates not resident in Italy can sit the interview online, using procedures guaranteeing their identification and the public nature of the interview. The interview can be done in Italian or English.

For admission to courses in Philosophy, Renaissance Studies, Modern Literature and Philology, Classics, History of Art and Modern and Contemporary History, at the interview the commissions will verify candidates’ level of competence in the Italian language and their ability to participate satisfactorily in the educational and research activities that the course will involve. Students admitted will be offered courses in the Italian language at various levels.

The list of candidates admitted to the interview and the score obtained in the evaluation of their qualifications will be published, with the date and time of the interview, on the web site and on the official SNS on-line 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.

On the basis of the evaluation of qualifications and research programme and the results of the interview, the admission commission will judge candidates’ suitability and place them in descending order in a classification list. 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 web site and on the official SNS on-line noticeboard.

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 Italian destinations and 700 euros for those coming from other countries. Applications for reimbursement, accompanied by original travel receipts including boarding passes, must be submitted by the 15th of November 2015. Reimbursement will be given, over and above the first 50 euros, exclusively for  journeys by train (2nd class), bus services, navigational services or plane (in economy class and if the distance between Pisa and the place of residence is over 600 km.). For candidates resident in Sardinia air travel is always reimbursed. The modalities and criteria are the same for this call for any travelling expenses incurred by candidates who undergo the interview by teleconference.


  1. Nomination of winners, forfeiture and renouncement

The Director of the Scuola Normale will approve the final classification lists of merit composed by the commissions for each session and will nominate the winners in accordance with the number of posts specified in the call.

All winners failing to notify the Scuola Normale of their acceptance by the specified deadline will forfeit their place.

All winners failing to submit their laurea magistrale certificate or the equivalent degree from outside Italy qualifying them for admission to the PhD course by 31st October 2015 will forfeit their place.

The winners must submit to the SNS, by the deadline to be indicated in due course, the following documents:

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

Candidates in possession of a  non-Italian degree admitted to the PhD course must submit on enrolment a  Dichiarazione di Valore (Statement of Validity) issued by the Italian diplomatic authorities (

In accordance with art. 3 of Law no. 127 of 15th May 1997, “Urgent measures for the speeding up of administrative processes and of procedures of decision and checking” and subsequent modifications 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. Winners found not to have the requisites for admission will forfeit their right to the post.

For the purposes of national insurance and in accordance with article 2, paragraph 26, of Law no. 335/1995 and subsequent modifications and integrations thereof, winners 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.

Winners who are citizens of countries not belonging to the European Union are obliged to observe the Italian and European Union rules on immigration and the regularisation of their status in Italy; for this purpose they can apply to the relevant office of the SNS, and will receive the information they need for this in due course.

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

In the case of renouncement or forfeiture of a winner, the Scuola Normale has the right to proceed to a new assignation of the post within thirty days of the start of the course, following the order of the final classification list of suitable candidates.


  1. Scholarship for the PhD course and contributions

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

For the academic year 2015-2016 the scholarship for the PhD course is equal to 14,187.00 euros including a lodging allowance. Students also have the right to free meals at the facilities of the Scuola Normale or at facilities with agreements with the SNS for the duration of the course, excluding the periods of academic holidays.

Winners can apply to utilise their lodging allowance at the SNS residences subject to availability.

Students on the course can also carry out study and research activities outside the Scuola Normale sites; for activities that are formally authorised, they will be assigned additional funds for the purpose.

The lecturers of the courses can propose to extend the scholarship for up to a year for justified research needs in order for the student to complete work on his thesis.

Winners who are citizens of countries not belonging to the European Union will be reimbursed for the travelling expenses incurred for the start of the course to a maximum of 1000 euros and on presentation of original and fiscally valid expense receipts, including boarding passes. They can also present a justified request for an advance on the first instalment of the scholarship grant.

PhD students from countries not belonging to the European Union 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 1000 euros and on presentation of original and fiscally valid expense receipts, including boarding passes. Those not completing the course because of forfeiture of the post can also apply for reimbursement providing at least a year has passed since the start of the course.

  1. Obligations and rights of students, incompatibilities

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.

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.

Winners of PhD posts at the Scuola Normale who are public employees will be subject to prevailing regulations regarding entitlement to time off work or special leave.

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


  1. Handling of personal data, director of the procedure, deferments, information

The handling of candidates’ personal data is subject to Law no. 196 of 30th June 2003, “Code regarding the protection of personal data”.

The director of the academic and student office of the SNS, Dr. Filippo Paoli, is also the administrative director of the call procedure.

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

This call will be published on the web site, on the European web site Euraxess, and on the web site of MIUR, the Italian ministry of education.

For information, you should apply to the personnel of the Segreteria Allievi (Student Office): , Silvia Carresi, +39 050 509663, , Mario Landucci, +39 050 509237, Silvia Zappulla, +39 050 509685.