The PhD

Coordinator: Pietro Maria MILITELLO
Duration: three-yearly

Course Overview and Educational Aims

The PhD programme in "Sciences for Cultural Heritage and Production" (DSPPC) aims to analyse and understand, from different perspectives and using different methodologies, the multiple aspects of material and immaterial cultural heritage: from archaeological remains to artistic artifacts, from historical-archival documents to literary ones, to performing arts (music, cinema, theatre, multimedia) and monumental and landscape heritage. The purpose is to achieve a full understanding of both the original context of production (historical, classical, religious, philosophical, archaeological, linguistic, philological, geographical, artistic, musicological, social, technological) and the current context of use (conservation, production, communication, dissemination, digitsation), in such a way as to combine a rigorous method of analysis of tangible and intangible cultural assets with the skills required for their full enhancement (creation of databases, tourist use, production and communication of content through events, books, multimedia products, creation of pages and websites). In this way, the PhD programme aims to offer doctoral students broader prospects of integration into the world of work.

The interdisciplinarity and integration of the different methodological approaches are functional in order to make clearer the relevance of and the need to establish a bridge between research on material aspects and research on intangible content, as well as to focus attention on the operating mechanisms of cultural industries and their production processes related to cultural heritage with specific purposes.

Job Opportunities

From this perspective, the job opportunities appear to be varied and with significant growth prospects. Therefore, employment opportunities are foreseen not only in public bodies (university bodies, research institutes, public administration) but also in companies and activities which operate:

  1. In the field of content production for the development, communication, dissemination of cultural heritage, as a whole, from antiquity to the contemporary age, for "informed" and "quality" enjoyment.
  2. In the analysis and diagnostics of materials.
  3. In the analysis and diagnostics of the landscape (including the underwater heritage).
  4. In the development of IT products and systems integration between technologies according to the Industry 4.0 guidelines.
  5. In the planning of methods for the conservation, use and enhancement of archaeological sites, archives, libraries and museums for sustainable tourism.
  6. In the development and planning of cultural and creative industry events (staging of performances, audiovisual and multimedia exhibitions, educational paths, multimedia portals, publishing enterprises, etc.).
  7. In the programming of sustainable cultural heritage projects, capable of attracting economic resources and developing forms of entrepreneurial interaction.
  8. In confirmation of this multidisciplinary approach, the Board includes, alongside professors from the archaeological, antiquarian, historical, historical-artistic and performing arts disciplines, a broad representation of academics from the hard sciences (geologists, physicists, geophysicists, computer scientists), economics and tourism. The Doctorate finds its natural vocation in the relationship with the Sicilian territory and its cultural capital, opening, however, to a broader Euro-Mediterranean perspective

Other information

Research activities

The research work will be supervised by a tutor (and possibly a co-tutor) assigned from among the Council's professors. The tutor will be responsible for supervising and guiding the doctoral student in the conduct of his/her research. For any specific aspects, the Council may, on the proposal of the tutor, appoint an External Expert, who will only have an advisory function.
For research activities the doctoral student will have at his disposal two dedicated classrooms, computer equipment and the Department's library with reserved seats.
Doctoral students are obliged to stay abroad for a minimum of three months and a maximum of 18 months. This requirement does not extend to doctoral students without a scholarship.
The doctoral student is required to report on the progress of his or her research at least every four months to the tutor and co-tutor, if any, in order to monitor the scientific results achieved and the strategies adopted to achieve them.

Mandatory teaching activities

The educational mandatory activity foresees 60 ECTS spread over the first two years plus a series of laboratory activities in the fields of language, IT and design.
Both lectures and other educational activities provide starting points for establishing and clarifying research paths and topics in an interdisciplinary manner and for providing doctoral students with the basis for in-depth scientific studies.

During the first year the doctoral student will attend 30 ECTS of lectures, of which:
30 ECTS intended to provide transversal skills related to the cultural asset, its management, its protection and conservation. The doctoral student will therefore attend lectures on research methodologies in the following disciplinary fields: archaeology, philology, classical and patristic literature, ancient philosophy, history of the classical, medieval, modern and contemporary world, archival and library science, history of music and art, performing arts, economics of culture, geography, archaeometric and diagnostic methods in the geological, physical and geophysical fields, digital skills.

In addition to lectures, the course will include the following workshop activities:

  • 40 hours of computer laboratory aimed at acquiring specific skills in the field of database management, digital images, and the main graphic software.
  • 40 hours of language laboratory, organised by the University, which in alternate years will provide lessons in academic English, aimed at improving the ability to write scientific articles in English; optionally a Spanish, French and German language laboratory, aimed at providing the basic skills to understand a written text with the aid of vocabulary.
  • 20 hours on research methodology.

During the second year, the PhD student will attend 30 ECTS of lectures, seminars and conferences relating to the main area of investigation of his/her project. It will be the responsibility of the tutor and possibly the co-tutor, in agreement with the coordinator, to prepare the lectures, based on the research in progress. The doctoral student will also be able to attend the computer and language laboratories of the current year.

Finally, a series of seminars will be devoted in the second year

  • to the drafting of European projects Calls;
  • to the strengthening of the so-called Soft Skills.

During the third year, the doctoral student will devote himself entirely to his thesis.
Classes will be held for two weeks a month from December to March of the current academic year.
The workshops will be scheduled in the months of April-May. The calendar will be set at the beginning of each academic year and will be promptly communicated to doctoral students at the beginning of the lectures.
In this way, a path of progressive specialisation of knowledge is built, but one that guarantees all doctoral students a common base of skills on the subject of the cultural heritage, encouraging interdisciplinary dialogue and the use of innovative and high-quality methodologies, as well as leaving the proper space to complete their own research.

Guidelines on the formulation of the doctoral project

For the submission of PhD project proposals in "Heritage and Cultural Production Sciences" there is no fixed scheme, but each project should contain:

(a) an abstract, which is the concise summary of the whole project (state of the art, goals, methodologies), and is not to be confused with the possible introductory part;
b) a state of the art, highlighting recent acquisitions and new research trends, as well as the most relevant bibliographical studies on the subject and, above all, which aspects need to be subjected to further investigation in a completely innovative and original manner to make scientific progress in one or more areas of research
c) the description of the project, with the objectives to be pursued and the methodology to be used;
d) the timetable, demonstrating the feasibility of the project (which will be taken into account in its evaluation). For example, a project to catalogue an entire archaeological deposit or archive cannot be completed in three years. A project to study an archive that is not accessible because it is under restoration or because it is privately owned may not be feasible. Letters from the public/private institutions involved can be attached in this case to prove the permission to work in the institution;
e) the essential bibliography (cited in the state of the art).

N.B. Proposals must be aimed at scientific advancement in one or more areas, and not merely at the application of a tried and tested methodology.