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

Academic Year 2023-2024
Subject area Humanistic Studies
Cycle 39
Coordinator Prof. Claudio Paolucci
Language English, Italian
Duration 3 years

Application deadline: Jun 20, 2023 at 11:59 PM (Expired)

PhD Call for Applications, with scholarships funded by NRRP and other funds

Enrolment: From Aug 03, 2023 to Aug 22, 2023

Doctoral programme start date: Nov 01, 2023

39 PNRR PhD Call for Applications
Operating centre
Main Department
Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies - FILCOM
  1. Philosophy and Science Studies
  2. Semiotics
  3. Cognitive Science
Research topics

Curriculum 1: Philosophy and Science Studies

The curriculum in Philosophy and Science Studies deals with:

  • aesthetics, regarding the structures of human experience and the question of sensitivity, the expressive practices of taste and the knowledge of different traditions of the Arts;
  • moral philosophy, which include knowledge and skills relating to human action in its ethical-social, normative, political, anthropological and communicative dimensions;
  • philosophy of law, in its deontological, historical-doctrinal and political dimensions;
  • theoretical philosophy, which concern the activity of thought in its genesis, the structuring of concepts and the different forms of experience, in particular the theory of knowledge, phenomenology, metaphysics, ontology, hermeneutics and religion;
  • logic and philosophy of science, which address the forms of scientific knowledge, logic and natural languages, the representation of knowledge and computation, the methodological and foundational issues specific to the individual sciences;
  • historical-philosophical studies, which include the forms and development of philosophical thought from antiquity to the present day, also extending to political philosophy, philosophy of history, Italian philosophy and the cultural expressions of philosophical doctrines;
  • social studies of science and sociology, inherent in the dynamics of production, dissemination and use of expert knowledge, technological artifacts and socio-technical infrastructures;
  • studies of the history of science and techniques, which aim - in a diachronic and synchronic sense - at the historical-critical reconstruction of the development of sciences, techniques and scientific institutions, also understood in their social, communicative and gender implications;
  • philosophy of language and mind, which address language as an eminently theoretical object of investigation, also including the most recent trends in cognitive semiotics and analytical philosophy.

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, behavioral , 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 cognitiom

Students are required to learn to perform experiments in the lab - they will have to learn to plan them, to execute them  and to analyze the data. They will be required to learn to realize classical behavioral 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
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
- counseling and planning for public and private institutions
- design of media content (tv, radio, web …)
- human resources managers in public and private firms.
Admission Board

Appointed by RD n. 709/2023 Prot n. 149534 on Jun 02, 2023

Surname and Name University / Institution Role email
Campaner Raffaella Università di Bologna Member
Cerrato Francesco Università di Bologna Member
Gangemi Aldo Università di Bologna Member
Lugli Luisa Università di Bologna Member
Raggetti Lucia Università di Bologna Member
Gherri Elena Università di Bologna Substitute
Lalatta Costerbosa Marina Università di Bologna Substitute
Martelli Matteo Università di Bologna Substitute
Mazzucchelli Francesco Università di Bologna Substitute
Paolucci Claudio Università di Bologna Substitute

* The following shall take part in the work of the Examination Board as expert members for positions linked to specific research topics:

  • Andrea Giovanni Nuzzolese - Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) - Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione
Learning outcomes

The doctoral programme is aimed at training advanced level experts in the diciplinary fields included in its three curricula, while encouraging a multidisciplinary research agenda and exchanges with different cultural traditions in the same discipinary 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 and in Italy and abroad, chosen in agreement with their tutor and the 'Collegio dei docenti'. In the curirculum 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 and international 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.