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

Academic Year 2021-2022
Subject area Humanistic Studies
Cycle 37
Coordinator Prof. Claudio Paolucci
Language English, Italian
Duration 3 years
Positions 7 positions. More information in the PhD Programme Table.
Application deadline May 21, 2021 at 12:00 PM (Expired)
Enrolment period From Jul 15, 2021 to Jul 26, 2021
Doctoral programme start date Nov 01, 2021
Operating centre
Main Department
Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies - FILCOM
Mobility abroad
6 months
  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:
a) 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;
b) moral philosophy, which includes knowledge and skills relating to human action in its ethical-social, normative, political, anthropological and communicative dimensions;
c) philosophy of law, in its deontological, historical-doctrinal and political dimensions;
d) 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;
e) 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;
f) 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;
g) social studies of science and sociology, inherent in the dynamics of production, dissemination and use of expert knowledge, technological artifacts and socio-technical infrastructures;
h) 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;
i) 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 cognition and its relationship with embodied cognition
  • Social cognition

Candidates 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 realise 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 candidates the experiments they are conducting, from their planning to the data analysis, we will organise a lab meeting to be held every month. Candidates and professors will discuss together research projects, and candidates will have the opportunity to learn how to present a study. We will also organise periodical meetings to discuss some scientific papers. Candidates 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 characterised 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 candidates 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 popularisation 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/Institution Curriculum Role email
Beretta Marco Università di Bologna Philosophy and Science Studies Member
Cerrato Francesco Università di Bologna Philosophy and Science Studies Member
Lorusso Anna Maria Università di Bologna Semiotics Member
Lugli Luisa Università di Bologna Cognitive Science Member
Paolucci Claudio Università di Bologna Semiotics Member
Demaria Cristina Università di Bologna Semiotics Substitute
Galatolo Renata Università di Bologna Cognitive Science Substitute
Lalatta Costerbosa Marina Università di Bologna Philosophy and Science Studies Substitute
Martelli Matteo Università di Bologna Filosofia e studi sulla scienza Substitute
Mazzucchelli Francesco Università di Bologna Semiotica Substitute
Learning outcomes
The PhD 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 candidates 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 supervisor, having regard to the needs stemming from their previous training and their research project. Similarly, in the second and third years candidates are expected to attend at least 80 and 40 hours, respectively, while they will focus mainly on their dissertation. Each year doctoral candidates are expected to submit an essay to be discussed with the members of the Academic Board, and presented during a seminar attended by other doctoral candidates. Approval of the essay by the Academic Board is mandatory for admission to the next year.
Research training activities compliant with the Doctoral programme's learning outcomes
Doctoral candidates are expected to attend individual tutorials, seminars, lectures, and conferences organised by the University of Bologna and by other universities in Italy and abroad, chosen in agreement with their supervisor and the Academic Board. In the Curriculum on Cognitive science training will include substantial laboratory work. Additional training, aimed at enhancing the research potential of doctoral candidates, including expertise in English and IT, are offered by supervisors while advising candidates in view of the attainment of the products and results described below. The PSCS programme organises 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 Academic Board, PhD candidates 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 candidates with high-level doctoral classes held by international professors.
Internationalization features
All the members belonging to the Academic Board have vast international experience in their fields. Each year the call for applications for new PhD 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 candidates, most of the teaching and tutoring activities within the programme are carried out in English. Several final dissertations, both by Italian and by foreign candidates, are written in English. Several of the seminars organised 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 Academic 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 candidates with scholarship 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 candidates without scholarship are expected to achieve the same by the end of their third year. By the end of the second year, candidates with a scholarship are expected to attend at least two national or international conferences, submitting posters or papers as authors or co-authors. Doctoral students without a scholarship 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
Name Surname University/Institution Qualification
Morana Alac University of California San Diego (USA) Professore Associato
Marco Beretta Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Stefano Besoli Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Alessandra Bonazzi Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Raffaella Campaner Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Francesco Cerrato Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Cristina Demaria Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Martin  Fischer University of Potsdam Professore Ordinario
Mariacarla Gadebusch Bondio Universitätsklinikum Bonn Institute for Medical Humanities (Germany) Professore Ordinario
Renata Galatolo Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Luca Guidetti Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Marina Lalatta Costerbosa Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Sabina Leonelli University of Exeter (UK) Professore Ordinario
Anna Maria Lorusso Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Luisa Lugli Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Lambros Malafouris University of Oxford (UK) Ricercatore Universitario
Matteo Martelli Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Giovanni Matteucci Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Francesco Mazzucchelli Università di Bologna Ricercatore a tempo determinato
Claudio Paolucci Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Annalisa Pelizza Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Sophie Roux ENS Paris (France) Professore Ordinario


Final Ranking list