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Academic Requirements Overview

Course Requirements

(red underlining denotes a hyperlink to the corresponding section)Bacio

(see the Student Handbook 2013-2014 for further details)

4 Term Advanced Courses; 1 National (International) School on a topical research
area of interest; Physics Colloquia; (Attendance on the Colloquia and Courses is
compulsory for all graduate students).

Programs of the Graduate Courses Offered for the academic year 2013/14

Moreover, at the end of the first and second academic year (typically around mid October) students are requested to pass two Qualifyng seminars .


Grades and Credits

Pavia Graduate School grade format: Honors (H); High Pass (HP); Pass (P); Fail (F)

For good academic standing the Graduate School strongly recommends a High
Pass average.

Credits (60 for each year) for the various activities are distributed according to the following table


Grad. Courses

Grad. Courses

Grad. Courses

Grad. Courses





Intl. School



1 year

8 credits

8 credits

8 credits

4 credits

32 credits

2 year

8 credits

8 credits


4 credits

40 credits

3 year




4 credits

56 credits


Typical Time Line for Academic Requirements

Our program is a traditional graduate program and full time and residency is required for the three years of study. We expect our graduate students to live in/near Pavia and attend classes and program events.  We  cannot alter academic class or teaching times to accomodate students who choose to commute over long distances. The University of Pavia does have an important tradition of historical Colleges (Collegio Ghislieri, Collegio Borromeo, Collegio Cairoli, Collegio Nuovo, Collegio S. Caterina da Siena) and  graduate housing can be available.  At this time, we cannot offer any additional support to pay for housing; our students generally pay rent from their fellowship stipends or part-time employment.

Year 1:

  • Choice of Thesis adviser
  • Written presentation of Thesis Prospectus and plan of studies to Graduate School Board
  • Start dissertation research
  • 2 required advanced courses
  • National (International) School on a topical research area of interest
  • Physics Colloquia
  • Qualifying Seminar (October)
  • Written Performance Report for monitoring the student’s research progress and academic performance

Year 2:

  • Continue dissertation research
  • 2 required advanced courses
  • Physics Colloquia
  • Qualifying Seminar (October)
  • Written Performance Report for monitoring the student’s research progress and academic performance

Year 3:

  • Physics Colloquia
  • Continue dissertation research and prepare dissertation draft
  • Submission of written dissertation draft
  • Reader’s reports due after submission
  • Admission to Candidacy, including written Thesis report and relation on the student’s research and overall academic performance to Graduate School Board (October)
  • Thesis Defense and oral examination by an external nominated committee
  • Award of degree


First and Second Years

This section concerns more detailed information on the various academic requirements
listed above.

Choosing an Adviser

Contrary to what happens in many research institutions abroad, where graduate studies have a time span of 5-6 years, here in Italy the typical time line for graduate studies is three years (with a possibility of a Petition for an Extension for 6 months or one year. However, such an extension is not covered by a corresponding extension of the Ph.D. grant. Starting from the XXIX cycle is no longer possible to ask for an extension). Thus, it is best thought to start exploring possible dissertation advisers as soon as possible. An adviser from a department other than Physics can be chosen in consultation with Coordinator and the Graduate School Board, provided the dissertation topic is deemed suitable for a physics PhD. It is up to you to seek out faculty and talk to them no later than your first term (i.e., by January) to discuss your interest and possibilities for collaborating. It is also important that you
explore more than one subfield of physics with respect to the particular one you are fond of. There is indeed the possibility that the field of physics and the adviser you are interested in will have no opening available at the time you are ready to begin research.

Preparing a thesis prospectus and plan of studies

Soon after the beginning of the Graduate School Academic Year, (say between mid December and not later than January 20), each graduate student produces a thesis prospectus and plan of studies. The prospectus must be submitted to the Graduate Registrar, Mrs. Anna Rita Mangia, and it must be approved by the Graduate School Board.

The Thesis (Research) Prospectus should be viewed as a preliminary statement of what the student proposes to do in his or her dissertation and not as an unalterable commitment. The appropriate form and typical content of a prospectus inevitably vary from field to field. However a prospectus should always contain the following information:

  • Student’s name, Adviser’s name, date.
  • A statement of the topic of the dissertation and an explanation of its importance.
  • What in general might one expect to learn from the dissertation that it is not known, understood, or appreciated.
  • A concise (even schematic) review of what has been done on the topic in the past.
  • How will the proposed dissertation differ from or expand upon previous work
  • A basic bibliography appended to this section would be appreciated.
  • A statement of where most of the work will be carried out: e.g. In the laboratory of a particular faculty member; In an international laboratory (e.g. CERN); As part of an international collaboration with a specific part of the research program carried out abroad.

This part of the research prospectus should be long enough to include essential information for the proposed topics but not overly long. It should be written in a manner comprehensible to people who are not experts in your particular subfield. Four to five pages, including figures and bibliography, should be appropriate in most cases. The plan of studies lists the courses selected by the student-see the following subsection for details.

Course requirements and suggested sequencing is discussed in detail in the section

Graduate Courses


Schools and Conferences

Top research institutions often organize international (traineeships) conferences on advanced research topics which provide a rich and active environment for learning and doing Physics. The traineeships generally last 1-2 weeks and offer talented university graduates an intensive learning experience under the assistance of leading scientists. Our academic program requires that graduate students must attend one National or International School of their choice during their graduate studies. Typically this is done in the first year, but it can be postponed to the second year. Financial support will be partially provided by the Graduate program (typically up to 400-500 Euro) and by research group grants.


Research progress and academic Performance Report

Towards the end of the first and second academic year, (and not later than October 15), each graduate student produces a year report. This includes a review of her/his academic performance, a description of progress to date in the research project and a discussion of future work. The report, endorsed by the student’s adviser, is read by the members of the Graduate School Board, which in turn recommends to the Graduate School Offices of the University whether the student should be permitted to register for the next academic year. The report should also include a list of publications in preparation or already published (classified into: peer-reviewed journals/ proceedings, etc.). Participation of the students in summer schools and conferences that are relevant to their research topics. Thus, the issues to be addressed within the Report are:

  • results of the project
  • first steps / next steps within the project
  • problems / setbacks encountered and possible solutions
  • lectures and courses taken
  • conferences attended / upcoming conferences
  • publications in preparation / already published

The Report must be submitted to the Graduate Registrar, (Mrs. Anna Rita Mangia).


Third Year and Beyond

Admission to candidacy

The graduate school requires all students to be admitted to candidacy by the end of the third year. Students who have completed their course requirements with satisfactory grades, pass the qualifying seminars, and have submitted an acceptable dissertation final draft are recommended for admission to candidacy. The time line for admission to candidacy and  a detailed analysis of the structure of the whole procedure is discussed in the section

Admission to candidacy and PhD thesis