PhD in Philosophy, Science, Cognition, and Semiotics (PSCS)

Academic Year 2020-2021
Subject area Humanistic Studies
Cycle 36
Coordinator Prof. Claudio Paolucci
Language English, Italian
Duration 3 years
Positions 6 positions. More information in the PhD Programme Table.
Application deadline May 21, 2020 at 01:00 PM (Expired)
Final ranking list Final ranking list available on Studenti Online
Enrolment period From Jun 25, 2020 to Jul 06, 2020
Doctoral programme start date Nov 01, 2020
Operating centre
Main Department
Department of Philosophy - FILO
Mobility abroad
6 months
Research topics

Curriculum 1: Philosophy and Science Studies
It is well-known that ca. 1830 the domain of philosophy and the domain of science began parting ways. Before that date, philosophy included also the kind of natural philosophy that we would now call science, and philosophers had often a training allowing them to excel in the sciences. After that date, science and scientists grew increasingly autonomous, and began establishing new specialties, new languages, and robust ties with technology in ways that have estranged many subsequent generations of philosophers up to this day. While acknowledging the substantial autonomy of philosophy and science in present-day research and educational institutions, the curriculum in Philosophy and Science Studies will provide a training allowing doctoral students to explore both the conflicts and the persistent links characterizing the relationships between philosophy and science. The curriculum will combine fields like analytic and continental traditions in philosophy, the history and philosophy of science, logic and the philosophy of language, science and technology studies. There is a growing awareness that the humanities can provide important cultural, historical and philosophical perspectives on questions affecting citizens living in a world largely shaped by science and technology. Reciprocally, there is a growing awareness in scientific circles that a clearer understanding of the intellectual, philosophical, social, and moral issues at stake in science and technology may benefit science itself. The curriculum aims at training PhD students who will develop fresh insights into a range of issues that defy the traditional partitions among philosophy, science, and technology.

Curriculum 2: Semiotics
The educational goals of the curriculum in semiotics are to develop theoretical and practical competencies in semiotics both from a theoretical-philosophical perspective, and in terms of their practical-methodological application. In particular, from a theoretical perspective, we shall examine relevant themes related to the development of philosophical and linguistic theories of signs and semiosis, key elements in the history of semiotics, as well as comparisons between different sign systems: linguistic, visual, multimodal, etc. On the application plane, necessary methodological tools will be provided to carry out in depth analyses of different types of textual objects: verbal, visual, behavioural, musical, audiovisual, etc. To this end the principal theoretical and methodological currents characterising the semiotic tradition, from structuralism to interpretational semiotics, will be examined in depth.

Curriculum 3: Cognitive Science

The main research topics of the curriculum on Cognitive science are:

  • Attention
  • Objects and action, affordances
  • Role of the body in cognition, sense of body
  • Language grounding in the perception, action and emotion systems
  • Emotions and sensorimotor system
  • Numerical cognitiom and its relationship with embodied cognition
  • Social cognition

Students are required to learn to perform experiments in the lab - they will have to learn to plan them, to execute them and to analyse the data. They will be required to learn to realize classical behavioural experiments, in which reaction times and errors are recorded. In addition, they will be invited to learn to use at least one of the three instruments that we possess - eye tracking, motion tracking or TMS. In order to discuss with students the experiments they are conducting, from their planning to the data analysis, we will organize a lab meeting to be held every month. Students and professors will discuss together research projects, and students will have the opportunity to learn how to present a study. We will also organize periodical meetings to discuss some scientific papers. Students will be invited to present to the others an overview of the main topics and open issues in their area. Compared to other doctoral curricula in cognitive science, our curriculum is characterized by a higher attention paid to psychology (especially cognitive psychology and communication psychology).

Job opportunities and potential areas of employment
The job opportunities envisaged for our doctoral students fall under different headings:
- academic and research jobs in the disciplinary areas pursued within the three curricula of the programme;
- management work in academic, research, and public institutions of education and higher learning;
- jobs connected with the communication and popularization of philosophy and of science;
- publishing;
- counselling and planning for public and private institutions;
- design of media content (tv, radio, web …);
- human resources managers in public and private firms.
Admission Board

Surname Name University Role email
Galatolo Renata Università di Bologna Member
Guidetti Luca Università di Bologna Member
Paolucci Claudio Università di Bologna Member
Campaner Raffaella Università di Bologna Substitute
Lorusso Anna Maria Università di Bologna Substitute
Lugli Luisa Università di Bologna Substitute
Learning outcomes
The doctoral programme is aimed at training advanced level experts in the disciplinary fields included in its three curricula, while encouraging a multidisciplinary research agenda and exchanges with different cultural traditions in the same disciplinary areas.
The curricula are as follows:
- Philosophy and Science studies
- Cognitive science
- Semiotics
Activities to be carried out by Doctoral candidates
First-year doctoral students are expected to attend at least 120 hours chosen from the teaching and laboratory activities provided by the programme. They will select such activities with the advice of their tutor, having regard to the needs stemming from their previous training and their research project. Similarly, in the second and third years students are expected to attend at least 80 and 40 hours, respectively, while they will focus mainly on their dissertation. Each year doctoral students are expected to submit an essay to be discussed with the members of the Collegio dei docenti, and presented during a seminar attended by other doctoral students. Approval of the essay by the Collegio is mandatory for admission to the next year.
Research training activities compliant with the Doctoral programme's learning outcomes
Doctoral students are expected to attend individual tutorials, seminars, lectures, and conferences organized by the University of Bologna and by other universities in Italy and abroad, chosen in agreement with their tutor and the Collegio dei docenti. In the curriculum on Cognitive science training will include substantial laboratory work. Additional training, aimed at enhancing the research potential of doctoral students, including expertise in English and IT, are offered by tutors while advising students in view of the attainment of the products and results described below. The PSCS programme organizes many PhD initiatives in collaboration with the Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies: in addition to the seminars and the classes held directly by the members of the board, PhD students are required to attend the SERIC seminar cycle, on ongoing research in Philosophy, Science, Cognition and Semiotics. Furthermore, the partnerships with the International Center for Humanities "Umberto Eco" (CUE) and the Institute of Advanced Studies (ISA) of Unibo - which host prestigious guests from all over the world in Bologna - provide PSCS PhD students with high-level doctoral classes held by international professors.
Internationalization features
All the members belonging to the Collegio dei docenti have vast international experience in their fields. Each year the call for applications for new PhD fellowship positions is spread through International networks such as H-Net, the Philos-L (Archives of Philosophy in Europe) newsletter, the Society for the Social Studies of Science, and the newsletters of the European Society for Analytic Philosophy and the History of Science Society (USA). Many Italian mailing lists are also used.
Given the presence of several foreign students, most of the teaching and tutoring activities within the programme are carried out in English. Several final dissertations, both by Italian and by foreign students, are written in English. Several of the seminars organized each year are delivered by foreign scholars, conveying hints of the kind of knowledge and know-how pursued within the research institutions of other countries. The PhD board is international, including six professors from European, American and UK universities.
Expected research results and products
By the end of the second year, PhD students owning a fellowship are expected to write, as authors or co-authors, a paper of a quality such as to be considered for publication by an established journal in the field. A chapter in a scientific book with an important editorial board is also accepted. Doctoral students not benefitting from a fellowship are expected to achieve the same by the end of their third year. By the end of the second year doctoral, students with a fellowship are expected to attend at least two national or international conferences, submitting posters or papers as authors or co-authors. Doctoral students not benefitting from a fellowship are expected to achieve the same by the end of their third year. The doctoral dissertation, preferably written in English, must possess originality and an overall quality such as to become, after some additional work, a publishable book.
Doctoral programme Academic Board
Surname Name University/Institution Qualification
Alac Morana University of California San Diego (United States) Professore Associato
Angelini Annarita Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Beretta Marco Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Besoli Stefano Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Bonazzi Alessandra Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Campaner Raffaella Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Demaria Cristina Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Fischer Martin University of Potsdam (Germany) Professore Ordinario
Gadebusch Bondio Mariacarla Universitätsklinikum Bonn Institute for Medical Humanities (Germany) Professore Ordinario
Galatolo Renata Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Gentili Carlo Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Guidetti Luca Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Leonelli Sabina University of Exeter (Great Britain) Professore Ordinario
Lorusso Anna Maria Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Lugli Luisa Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Malafouris Lambros University of Oxford (Great Britain) Ricercatore Universitario
Martelli Matteo Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Nicoletti Roberto Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Paolucci Claudio Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Pelizza Annalisa Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Pozzato Maria Pia Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Roux Sophie ENS Paris - Scuola normale superiore (France) Professore Ordinario