The PhD course in Political Science and Sociology of the Scuola Normale Superiore builds upon a methodologically pluralist approach and a multidisciplinary nature, combining structured teaching with close supervision activities by a dedicated faculty. The duration of the programme and of its grants is four years.
The main research areas which have been singled out are organized around the following topics.
Democracy and social movements. In this area, sociological and political science competences converge around political sociology, which bridges the two disciplines through its main focus on the reciprocal influence of political and social transformations. Social movements, civil society, participative democracy, political violence, new media and conflicts are the main concepts addressed in the teaching and research activities. In the best European tradition, the methodological approach will be sensitive to the historical, institutional and cultural specificities, but also oriented to the development of theory.
Comparative/global public policy and international governance. This area addresses, in an innovative way, themes such as the comparative analysis of public policies; the global dimension of public policies; the multilevel governance of public policies, that is the structural and processual characteristics that influence how public policies are decided and implemented in multilevel institutional processes (from the sub-national to the national, and from the supra-national to the international ones, with due attention devoted to the European Union); the structure of regimes and dynamics of international politics (not only foreign policy and defence, but also migration, social, public health, educational, energy and economic development policies).
Comparative politics and society. This area is oriented towards the comparative analysis of a set of major politico-institutional processes, focusing on the interactions between political parties, interest groups, civil society and public opinion. Classical comparative analysis, based on cross-national comparison, is backed up by the study of processes which are territorially multilevel, such as Europeanization and globalization, in the political ‒ but also economic, social, and cultural ‒ spheres.
The Program consists of lectures and seminars.
In consultation with their course coordinator, each year students will present a study plan to the Department Council where they specify what research and training they plan to do in the incoming academic year. In the first year at the School, students are required to attend and pass 6 compulsory and 2 elective courses, for a total amount of 8 courses, each one of 20 hours. From the second to the fourth year, PdD candidates are required to attend and pass 3 elective courses per year.
At the beginning of the first year, the students will be assigned a provisional mentor. At the end of the first year and in agreement with the PhD Board, the students will propose the name of the supervisor of their thesis and its topic for approval by the Department Council.
During the four years of the course, the students are expected to participate in seminars offered by the School and to take part in research internships in institutions both in and outside Italy.
At the end of each academic year, with the exception of the final year, the students will undergo an interview in front of a Committee appointed by the Department Council and including teachers of their course, in order to assess the studies and the research activities carried out during the previous year. Passing the interview means that the students can keep their post and fellowship, and thus be admitted to the following year.
At the interview, the students will present a report on their scholarly activity, their research and its results, on any seminars, congresses, or other scientific activities they have participated in, and it will mention any publications they have produced. For admission to the final year, this report will include a section relating to the progress made in their research project.