The PhD School in Physics, Astrophysics and Applied Physics (from now on, the PhD school) is run by a consortium including the Department of Physics (FIS) and the Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine (BIOMETRA) of the University of Milan. The smooth running of the PhD school is responsibility of a Director (Matteo Paris), a Secretary (Andrea Zanzani), a School Board (GD-Giunta del Dottorato) made of seven faculty (see below) and a School Council (CD-Collegio dei Docenti del Dottorato) made of about eighty faculty plus the student’s representatives.
For administrative matter (including enrolling and bursary) the main contact is the Welcome Desk – (Infostudenti) office of UniMI, see details at https://www.unimi.it/en/study/student-services/welcome-desk-infostudenti.
Student’s basic duties
Each student is expected to choose his/her research activity and a supervisor within the first year. Students are however warmly advised to make their choice during the first two months. The student, in agreement with her supervisor, may also indicate a co-supervisor.
Each student should attend courses for at least 12 CFU, chosen among those offered by any PhD school of UniMI, see the full list PhD courses at https://www.unimi.it/en/education/postgraduate-programmes/doctoral-programmes-phd/phd-courses-list. Student may also attend additional courses of their choice. The validity of those courses to achieve the 12 CFU is subject to approval from the CD. The deadline to take exams is February of the second year.
Additionally, it is mandatory for each student:
- to attend an International Summer/Winter School, and then deliver a seminar on the topics of the School;
- to follow the courses offered by UniMI about soft and transversal skills.
At the end of each year, students should give a public seminar about their activity. Seminars of the first-year students are grouped in the form of a “Workshop” where each student gives an introductory talk about the topic of the thesis, illustrating the main motivations making that particular topic interesting and worth of research. Finally, it is mandatory for all the student to attend the Physics Colloquia organized by the PhD School.
Study Plan and role of the CD
Soon after the start of the PhD, each student is expected to present a study plan consisting of:
1. supervisor form with the topic of the research, signed by his/her supervisor and including the name(s) of any co-supervisor;
2. a doctorate program with a title and a description (at least 300 words);
3. a list of the courses that he/she intends to follow (and take the examination).
This study plan must be presented to the PhD School Secretariat usually within second month of the first year and will be approved by the CD. The choice of the summer/winter school, in order to make an informed choice, may be presented later on.
At the end of each academic year, the CD is called to assess the students’ activity. In case of a positive assessment, the student is admitted to the next year. After a positive third year’s assessment, the student is admitted to the final examination to obtain the degree of Ph. Doctor. The commitment of the student and the supervisor, i.e. the overall aims and scopes of the PhD program, as well as of the thesis and the final discussion are briefly described in an accompanying document (AimsAndScopes).
Together with the mandatory 12 CFU that should be accumulated following PhD courses, each student is expected to accumulate 60 credits per year engaging in different activities (nominally corresponding to 1600 hours per year). Achieving the credits is a prerequisite for the admission to the next year.
Student who got more than 180 credits may ask for a “Diploma supplement”, summarizing the full list of activities in which he/she engaged during the PhD. Credits can be obtained by:
1. courses and related examinations;
2. certified attendance of a course;
3. attendance of Physics Colloquia (mandatory);
4. participation in summer school and/or participation to conferences;
5. presentations to conferences (poster and talks);
6. stage in external labs or companies;
7. seminars given by the student;
8. publication of papers, patents, internal reports;
9. research activity and thesis preparation (as certified by the supervisor);
The credits are assigned as follows:
1. By passing the exams of the mandatory courses. For external courses the approval of the school council is needed;
2. By attending courses (in case the exam is not taken), following teacher’s certification: 0.5 CFU/5 hours of the course;
3. By attending the Physics Colloquia (or other Department seminar): 0.2 credits;
4. By attending schools and/or conferences: as a rule of thumb a one-week event is worth 6 CFU. Upon return, the student is expected to give a public seminar on the School’s topics and the Supervisor should be present at the seminar;
5. By presenting talks or posters to conferences and workshops: up to 5 credits for each presentation, the number of CFU is validated by the Supervisor;
6. By spending time working in external labs or companies: up to 6 credits per month;
7. By delivering seminars: 2 CFU per seminar;
8. By publishing papers: up to 6 CFU per publication, according to their evaluation. Those CFUs are granted by the school Board following the Supervisor’s proposal;
9. By the end-year assessment of the supervisor about the overall performances, e.g interest, commitment, diligence, competence, creativity, independence, analytical, numerical or experimental skills, strategic vision, open-mindedness, performance and productivity, communication and writing skills, interaction with the supervisor and/or the research group, collaborations and networking, travels, conference and visiting activity: up to 45 credits for the 1st year, up to 49 credits for the 2nd year, up to 57 credits for the 3rd year.
Mandatory credits are validated by the school secretariat. All the others are initially validated by the supervisor. The e-booklets are then checked by the GD and finally validated after the approval of the CD.
Mandatory credits include:1. PhD courses (12 CFU); 2. The full program of the Physics Colloquia (6 x 3 x 0.2 = 3.6 CFU); 3. The end-year seminars (3 x 2 = 6 CFU); 5. At least one school (6 CFU).
1. The student must choose his research topic and attend specialist courses. The study plan shall be presented within the second month and must be approved by the SC;
2. He/She shall give a seminar on his research plan in the PhD Workshop (usually the 3rd week of September);
3. He/She must fill all the records in the e-booklet before Sep 15th;
4. He/She may participate in an International Summer School and give a seminar on the topics of the School;
5. At the end of the year the SC, together with the supervisor decide to pass or not the student. If the CD decides to pass the student, he/she may be granted a fellowship for the next year.
1. The student shall take the examinations within February;
2. He/She shall give an end-year seminar on his/her research. The seminar is public and the title/venue should be communicated to the Secretariat at least 10 days before; that will put it in the PhD web site;
3. He/She must fill all the records in the e-booklet before Sep 15th;
4. He/She may participate in an International Summer School and give a seminar on the topics of the School.
5. At the end of the year the CD, together with the Supervisor decide to pass or not the student. If the CD decides to pass the student, he/she may be granted a fellowship for the next year;
1. The student shall give an end-year seminar on his/her research. The seminar is public and the title/venue should be communicated to the Secretariat at least 10 days before; that will put it in the PhD web site;
2. (if not fulfilled before ) He/She shall participate in an International Summer School and give a seminar on the topics of the School within the first days of September of the 3rd year;
3. Student & supervisor find two Referees for the thesis before June of the 3rd year;
4. Student & supervisor present suggestions for the committee of the final within Sep 15th of the 3rd year;
5. He/She must fill all the records in the e-booklet before Sep 15th;
6. At the end of the year the CD, together with the Supervisor decide to pass or not the student. If the CD decides to pass the student, he/she may present and defend his/her Thesis in the PhD Final Exam;
7. He/She presents a Thesis’ draft to his Referees before Sep 30th (the deadline for the presentation of the Thesis’ draft depend by the date of the final exam. Every end of the 3rd year the students receive a detailed timetable for each option);
8. He/She sends electronic version of the final thesis within 20 days before the PhD Final Exam to the Final Exam Committee members;
9. The PhD Final Exam is taken between November and January.
N.B. In case of Co-Tutoring or International PhD School the present Vademecum may change according to the partner institutions requirements.
Students may have teaching contracts (up to 50 hours per year). Approval by the school council is needed.
AIMS AND SCOPES OF THE PHD PROGRAM (MILAN, OCTOBER 8TH, 2019)
PhD is awarded to students who have demonstrated:
(i) the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication;
(ii) a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of academic research or area of professional practice, as well as a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic or industrial enquiry;
(iii) the general ability to conceptualize, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of research, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems.
Characteristics of PhD holders
Typically, PhD holders:
(a) will be able to make informed judgments on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
(b) will be able to continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas, or approaches;
(c) will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.
About the thesis and the defense
(1) The thesis must be presented in a satisfactory manner. The subject matter must be clearly and precisely expressed, its arguments logical and intelligible, and its language appropriate. It must show that the candidate not only has ideas, but also has the power of putting them into suitable words;
(2) The thesis must be the result of the candidate’s own work. This requirement does not preclude a candidate to obtain assistance/collaboration from/with the research group where he/she has done research, including the routine collection and/or processing of data. When such help is obtained it should be with the prior approval of the supervisor who must be satisfied that the spirit of the ‘own work’ requirement is not breached. Prior publications of papers arising from the research being undertaken will not adversely prejudice the assessment of the thesis;
(3) The PhD defense (“discussione finale”) is an essential and important part of the examination of the candidate. It will normally include questions designed to ascertain that the thesis embodies the candidate’s own research. It will test the candidate’s general comprehension of the field of study within which the subject of the thesis falls. It will test the candidate’s acquaintance with the general literature of the subject, knowledge of the relation of the work to the wider field of which it is a part, and the respects in which the work advances, modifies, or otherwise affects this wider field of scholarship. Finally, it will assess the ability of the candidate to communicate her/his ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences.