Programme Aims & Structure

Political Studies

Programme Aims & Structure



The Ph.D. in Political Studies is a joint programme of the Department of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Milan and the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the University of Pavia.

The University of Milan runs the programme.

The Faculty includes scholars from several international and Italian universities: Central European University, University of Florida, University of Exeter, University of Lausanne, Catholic University Milan, University of Bologna, University of Turin, University of Valle d’Aosta.


Aims & Structure

The doctoral programme in Political Studies aims to train high-skilled professionals who can undertake research in academic institutions, research centers, public and private organizations and think tanks. Former Ph.D fellows are also employed as officials in EU institutions, national public administrations and political institutions, as well as data analysts and policy analysts in private companies in Italy and abroad.

The Ph.D. programme includes three main phases.


First Phase: 1st year

The 1st year is spent at NASP Graduate School in Social and Political Sciences.

After admission, the Ph.D. students are assigned to one of the 4 Research Paths (RP) and the study plan is designed accordingly.

Students must earn at least 60 credits through compulsory coursework and examinations (45 credits, 13 classes), research project advancement (6 credits), attendance to international and peer seminars, conferences & summer schools (9 credits).

During the first year, Ph.D. students also select a supervisor from the Faculty.


Second Phase: 2nd and 3rd year

During the 2nd and the 3rd year, Ph.D. students undertake research, visiting periods and dissertation writing under the supervision of a member of the Faculty.

The 2nd year is partly spent abroad on visiting and devoted to finalize the research design, conduct the empirical research and initial drafting of the dissertation. At the end of the 2nd year, Ph.D. Students present their projects in front of the Faculty Board for admission to the 3rd year.

The 3rd year is dedicated to the completion of the empirical research and to writing the doctoral thesis. The final dissertation is submitted to the Faculty Board at the end of the 3rd year for admission to external review.

Ph.D. students may also be involved in teaching activities as tutors, and they are encouraged to present their preliminary works at the main national and international conferences.


Third Phase

The third phase includes the review process, subsequent thesis revision & completion and, ultimately, the VIVA.

The dissertation is reviewed by two external referees who may:

i) admit the candidate to the VIVA; ii) require amendments and revisions. In the latter case, up to six months may be allowed to revise the thesis before admission to the VIVA.

The examining committee is usually composed of three members.


Courses & Research Paths

The Ph.D. in Political Studies offers a two-levels training programme. First, the acquisition of a common background on the most up-to-date knowledge and methods in the field of political science and political philosophy. Second, an individualized training programme in four main paths of specialization.



During the 1st year, students attend five types of courses offered either by NASP Graduate School or the PhD programme in Political Studies (POLS). At the beginning of the 1st year, individual study plans are tailored in accordance with assignation to one of the four research paths below.
The list of courses that follows is referred to the A.Y. 2021-2022.


NASP compulsory* methodology courses (18 credits, *exceptions for Political Theory RP)
The Language of Mathematics in Contemporary Social Sciences
Research Methods in Social and Political Sciences
Introduction to STATA
Statistics for the Social Sciences
Statistics for the Social Sciences (Practical sessions)
Applied Multivariate Analysis for Social Scientists B 


NASP elective methodology courses (3 credits
Applied Multivariate Analysis for Social Scientists A
POLS elective methodology courses (3 credits)
Qualitative Research Methods


POLS compulsory courses (15 credits)
Empirical Political Theory
Game Theory
Logic and Epistemology of the Social Sciences
Political Philosophy
Positive Political Theory


POLS elective Courses (9 credits)
Phd students select 2-3 field specific courses


Transferable skills courses
Academic English for Social and Political Sciences
Courses organized by the University of Milan



4 Research Paths  

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