Credits and activities



The first year of the PhD degree course is largely dedicated to study, with the aim of studying the issues pertaining to one's research topic in further detail. PhD students are expected to follow specific courses of study (real lesson cycles aimed at PhD students, or normal university courses together with degree course students).

Students enrolled in the first year are required to acquire 60 university credits, to be divided between the so-called transversal activities common to all PhD courses (20 university credits to be acquired within the first two years) and between disciplinary activities (specific activities for each PhD research course).

Both for the first and the second PhD courses, it is not required to pass exams (with the exception of language certifications), nor to record the courses attended.

However, the PhD student is required to register his / her attendance at lectures or seminars.

Complementary skills (interdisciplinary activities)

Every year, the University Institute of Higher Studies IUSS - Ferrara 1391 (, organises a series of courses for students enrolled in the PhD research course and disseminates the training offer through both its website and by sending specific communications to all PhD students ( accounts).

PhD students must acquire 20 university credits for interdisciplinary activities in the first two years, choosing, in agreement with the Co-ordinator and the Tutor, two or more of the following activities, which award 5 university credits each:

  • English-language courses held with a mother-tongue lecturer;
  • Language certifications: interested PhD students can take the exams free of charge that allow them to obtain internationally-recognised certificates such as Cambridge PET, FIRST and CAE;
  • Italian courses for foreigners organised by the University Language Centre;
  • Cycles of seminars on communication and persuasion techniques;
  • Protection of intellectual property;
  • Advanced IT courses;
  • Basic and advanced design workshop;
  • Technology transfer courses;
  • Knowledge and management of research activities alongside funding systems.

These initiatives are integrated from year to year.

Check the IUSS website to keep up to date with the latest news! The IUSS office ( is available for any further information you may require.

Disciplinary activities:

The disciplinary activities, organised for each course are obtained by participating in workshop activities, seminars, congresses, study stays abroad, advanced courses organised as part of one's training and through the preparation of publications.

At the web page dedicated to disciplinary activities you can find the list of seminars organized by each PhD Course.

The report of the activities followed during the year is carried out by the PhD student together with his/her tutor, filling in the annual report of the research carried out. As no arithmetic reporting of the activities is required, the division of university credits between the various activities can be considered as relatively flexible. For serious and justified reasons, and in very exceptional cases (for example, a study stay abroad that does not allow the attendance of courses), the transversal activities can be deferred to the following year, by agreeing upon the method of how these activities can be made up.

There is no provision for the recognition of previous activities (credits accrued before enrolment on the PhD course), instead of transversal or disciplinary activities.

At the end of the year, the positive assessment expressed by the Academic Board and the Co-ordinator on the PhD student's activity corresponds to the automatic acquisition of the 60 university credits required by the PhD course regulations.