Call 2016-2017

Call 2016 - 2017

Call for 91 places in PhD courses at the Scuola Normale Superiore for the academic year 2016-2017.


  1. Number of scholarships, subject areas, educational objectives

1.1 – For the academic year 2016-2017 the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) hereby announces a call for 91 PhD places available in the following fields and sites. The selection is based on candidates’ qualifications and interviews.

Pisa Site

Cultures and societies of contemporary Europe 8 places
Cultures and societies of modern Europe 10 places
Philosophy 7 places
Classics 7 places
Physics 8 places
Mathematics 6 places
Financial Mathematics 6 places 2 of which are in collaboration with Unicredit
Methods and Models for Molecular Sciences 5 places
Nanosciences 18 places 2 of which are in collaboration with the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council)

3 in collaboration with the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia*

2 in collaboration with the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

3 in collaboration with the Center for Nanotechnology Innovation

1 in collaboration with the Fondazione Silvio Tronchetti Provera

1 in collaboration with the Fondazione pisana per la scienza*

Neurosciences 5 places

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

Florence site

Political Science and Sociology (Joint degree with the University of Bologna) 11 places


1.2 – The selection process will consist of two sessions; places not granted at the first session will be granted at the second session.

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 are 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.

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 PhD courses last three years, save for those in “Methods and Models for Molecular Sciences”, “Nanosciences”, “Neurosciences” and “Political Sciences and sociology”, which last four years. All courses will start on November 1, 2016.

1.8 – The courses will be held in English; the PhD courses in “Cultures and societies of contemporary Europe”, “Cultures and societies of modern Europe”, “Philosophy” and “Classics” are held both in English and Italian.

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 Scuola Normale, 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 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).

1.12 – In accordance with the Italian regulations (Ministerial Decree of February 8, 2013, no. 45) 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 32nd cycle.


  1. Requisites for admission

2.1 – Applications for admission are invited from candidates who, irrespective of their citizenship, have an Italian laurea magistrale (MA/MS degree) or an equivalent degree from outside Italy, or who expect to have obtained the degree required for admission by October 31, 2016: 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 selection committee, 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 call is restricted to candidates who:

  • were born after October 31, 1986;
  • have no past criminal charges against them 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 and internal 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 to attend a research doctorate course in Italy.

The admission interviews can be conducted in Italian or English; the admission interview for the PhD course in “Political Science and Sociology” 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: (– language– levels– cefr).


  1. Admission to the selection process

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

  • March 15, 2016, for the spring session;
  • August 30, 2016, 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. Applicants are strongly advised to check that they have received notification via e-mail of the registration of their application; the SNS is not responsible for application procedures not correctly concluded.

3.2 – Candidates are advised not to wait until the last few days before the deadline to present their application; the University 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. The application must include, in addition to personal details, forwarding addresses and proof of qualification for admission, and the discipline – or disciplines – for which the candidate intends to compete.

3.3 – Candidates interested in one or more of the places 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, spaces included); 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 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.

3.7 – 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.


  1. Evaluation of qualifications and interviews

4.1 – For the evaluation of candidates’ aptitude for scientific research and their basic preparedness to tackle the course programme, 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 – The qualifications will be evaluated as a whole.

4.3 – The outcome of the evaluation of qualifications and admission to the interview will be published by March 25, 2016 for the spring session, and by September 12, 2016 for the autumn session.

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

  • spring session: starting on April 4, 2016.
  • autumn session: starting on September 19, 2016.

4.5 – The committees must conclude the process by April 22, 2016 for the spring session, and by September 30, 2016 for the autumn session.

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

4.7 – 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 conducted in Italian or English; the interview for the PhD course in “Political Science and Sociology” must be conducted in English

4.8 – For admission to courses in “Cultures and societies of contemporary Europe”, “Cultures and societies of modern Europe”, “Philosophy” and “Classics”, at the interview the selection committees 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.

4.9 – The list of the 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.

4.10 – On the basis of the evaluation of qualifications and research programme 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 place with a specific research topic and one for the others.

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 web site and on the official SNS on– line noticeboard.

4.13 – Candidates whose qualifications are judged suitable and who subsequently attend an interview will be reimbursed for any documented travelling expenses over 50.00 euros and up to a maximum of 350.00 euros for candidates coming from Italian destinations and 700.00 euros for those coming from other countries. Applications for reimbursement, accompanied by the original travel receipts including boarding passes, must be submitted by November 15, 2016. Reimbursement will be given, over and above the first 50.00 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 successful candidates, forfeiture and renouncement

5.1 – The Director of the Scuola Normale will approve the final ranking list drawn up by the committees for each session and will appoint the successful candidates in accordance with the number of places specified in the call.

5.2 – All successful candidates failing to notify the Scuola Normale of their acceptance by the specified deadline will forfeit their place.

5.3 – All successful candidates failing to submit their laurea magistrale (MS/MA degree) certificate or the equivalent degree from outside Italy qualifying them for admission to the PhD course by October 31, 2016 will forfeit their place.

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

  • 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;
  • a digital passport size photo;
  • the certification relating to the data declared in the application form, where stipulated by Italian law.

5.5 – 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–– italy.php?lang=EN&idorizz=3&idvert=27).

5.6 – In accordance with art. 71 of the Italian Presidential Decree of December 28, 2000, no. 445 “Testo unico delle disposizioni legislative e regolamentari in materia di documentazione amministrativa” 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. 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. 335/1995 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 – The successful candidates must present at the SNS for the start of the course the receipt of the payment of the “tassa regionale” (DSU Regional right-to-study fee). The SNS will refund the fee, if due and paid.

5.9 – Successful candidates 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.

5.10 – Successful candidates 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 place.

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


  1. Scholarship for the PhD course and contributions

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

6.2 – For the academic year 2016-2017 the scholarship for the PhD course is equal to 15,012.00 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.

6.3 – Successful candidates can apply to utilise their lodging allowance at the SNS residences subject to availability.

6.4 – 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.

6.5 – The PhD board 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.

6.6 – Successful candidates 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 1,000.00 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.

6.7 – 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 1,000.00 euros and on presentation of original and fiscally valid expense receipts, including boarding passes. Those not completing the course because of forfeiture of the place 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

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.

7.3 – Successful candidates for the PhD course at the Scuola Normale 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 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, successful candidates enrolled in any of the above mentioned courses must rectify the situation within fifteen days on pain of forfeiture of the place.


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

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

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

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

8.4 – 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.

8.5 – 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.