The PhD programme in Social Sciences lasts three years and is based in the Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy and Applied Psychology (FISPPA) of the University of Padua. The PhD aims to deepen theoretical and methodological background of social sciences, in particular for the analysis of the processes of social change typical of highly complex societies. The training is based on the acquisition of competences and skills from sociology and applied psychology, supplemented by the contribution of anthropology, political science and social statistics.

The interdisciplinary nature of the PhD programme together with its methodological focus and specific internationalisation experiences included in the programme, contributes to a unique training context for research, where students will be able to develop cutting-edge research on social and psychological phenomena in an innovative manner. The programme is structured in 2 curricula: one curriculum in ‘Sociology’ and one in ‘Applied Psychology’, each of them characterised by a specific selection process and a dedicated teaching and research pathway.


The Curriculum in Sociology trains highly specialised scholars to analyse social, cultural and political processes typical of highly complex societies, through the acquisition of sociological skills complemented by the contribution of the disciplines of political science, social statistics, economics and anthropology. It dwells in particular on four crucial areas of research in order to grasp the most significant discontinuities in contemporary societies:

    • Institutional Processes and Practices of Social Production and Reproduction
    • Science, Technology, Innovation and Media Studies
    • Socio-Cultural Change: Identity, Families, Gender, Communication and Consumption
    • Political science
These three areas identify paths of study and theoretical reflection that can find multiple connections with many research themes, in the perspective of developing skills for the critical analysis and management of the processes that characterize today’s contemporary complexity. Particular emphasis is placed on the cultural construction of social processes and practices; qualitative, quantitative and digital-based methodologies currently available in social sciences; comparative research approaches; internationalization of topics and research activities through extended periods of research abroad.


The Applied Psychology curriculum focuses on the psychological processes that characterise the several spheres of individual, relational and collective life, with the aim of developing theoretical, methodological and applicative knowledge required to carry out evidence-based psychological research and interventions. The objectives are structured around a diversified spectrum of topics, including:

  • the social sphere, with particular reference to the investigation of attitudes and behaviour, intergroup relations and various forms of prejudice, environment and culture, violence and perceptions of safety, individual dispositions, well-being and positive social relations, social construction of meaning
  • the work and organisational sphere, in relation to issues such as personnel selection, the centrality of work on a psychological level, organisational well-being;
  • the clinical and dynamic sphere, in relation to personal and relational distress and suffering, couple and parenting relationships, preventive, support and psychotherapeutic interventions.

Particular emphasis is given to psychometric and methodological aspects, transversal to the various fields, involving training in relation to quantitative and qualitative methods, instruments for detecting and measuring psychological variables and constructs, formal models in psychology.