Welcome Kit – Cycle 36

Established in 1990, the current PhD programme in Design aims to develop competences and skills to carry out high quality research in design as a specific field of enquiry.
In this respect, candidates will be invited:

  • to reflect on the nature of design, with its aesthetic, performance and meaning values, as well as its capability of being an agent of social change
  • to strengthen the disciplinary core of design
  • to develop and share knowledge and tools able to distinguish the designer from other figures involved in design activity

The PhD programme in Design is structured into various research fields, which correspond to specific research teams within the Design Department.
To coordinate research activity over a wide range of topics, teams cluster around three Sections, which are:


Design and Cultures


Products, Strategies and Services


Design for Environments, Landscape and Mobility

PhD candidates are affiliated to the Section of their Supervisors.

Download the previous Welcome kits

Programme and Design System

The programme aims at educating researcher who will contribute original knowledge to the field of design by tackling the problems and identifying the potential of contemporary society. Their contribution may be brought to bear in:

  • creating designs, visions, and proposals (research through design);
  • developing tools and methods for putting these into practice (research for design);
  • developing critical analysis of design and its application domain (research on design).

The Programme proposes different methodologies of research, promotes the attitude to collaborate, and offers opportunities in universities and research centres, design enterprises and public corporate bodies.

The disciplinary field is Design. Other fields partially covered are Science and Philosophy, Language Theory, Sociology of Cultural Processes and Communication, History of Art, Science and Technology of Materials, Industrial Engineering, Operations Research, Computer Science.

The programme offers doctoral candidates the following opportunities:

  • to develop an original theme of research, becoming an effective member of a research team;
  • to attend courses and seminars on design, on design research and on research in general, developing skills concerning the discipline of the design, and the profession of the researcher;
  • to attend courses referred to research methodology (both in general and in relation to design), acquiring knowledge and tools for carrying out their research;
  • to attend courses and seminars referred to a specific field of research, developing specialist skills and acquiring specific knowledge for the development of their own research theme;
  • to develop expertise in an international research centre to verify the hypotheses, the methodologies and the results of their own work and to consolidate the network of international relationships within which it is situated.

The Politecnico di Milano was one of the first universities in Italy to establish a School of Doctoral Programmes in 2001 with a view to coordinating, assessing and monitoring the single doctorate programmes. The School offers courses to develop complementary abilities, such as seminars of epistemology, research policy and management, elements of scientific communication, and so on, whereas the single doctorate provides subjects and infrastructures for research, scientific education and tutoring.

The PhD degree is the highest level of university education, aimed at developing abilities of PhD candidates through training and research, as well as promoting new entrepreneurial skills. This results in a research thesis with original contributions, enabling them to take up research activities in industrial settings, in the public and private sectors, in public administration, in research centers and universities.

PhD School within Politecnico di Milano

Prof. Paolo Biscari, Dean of the PhD School

PhD programmes in Engineering, Architecture and Design

The PhD School council consists of the coordinators of the 19 PhD programmes and 4 representatives of all the Polimi PhD candidates

Representatives of PhD candidates within their Departments

The Design Department forms part of the Politecnico di Milano Design System, together with the School of Design, the PhD programme in Design, the Laboratories and the POLI.design Consortium. Together, they represent one of the most important university bodies in the field of design at international level. The Department fosters the process that has established design in an academic context by constantly developing relations and collaborations with other players operating within the Design System, in Milan and Lombardy as well as at national and international level.

School of Design


BSc and MSc levels

Department of Design


Research & Interdepartmental labs, labs for teaching

POLI.design Consortium


Higher education courses, training for companies

Organizational chart


Lucia Rampino

Deputy Coordinator

Davide Spallazzo

Design PhD Secretary Office

Simona Murina & Paola Mosca

Board of Professors

Lucia Rampino, Davide Spallazzo, Anna Anzani, Paola Bertola, Maresa Bertolo, Maria Rita Canina, Elena Caratti, Daria Casciani, Cabirio Cautela, Manuela Celi, Giovanni Conti, Maria Teresa Feraboli, Maria Rita Ferrara, Venere Ferraro, Luca Guerrini, Eleonora Lupo, Stefano Maffei, Rodolfo Maffeis, Pietro Marani, Marzia Mortati, Marco Quaggiotto, Dina Riccò, Valentina Rognoli, Maurizio Rossi, Alessandra Spagnoli, Carlo Vezzoli, Beatrice Villari

Representative of the PhD candidates within the Design Department

Francesca Mattioli

Research Development & Educational Framework

The achievement of the PhD degree requires a study and research activity equivalent to at least three years of full time study.

The main aim of all Politecnico di Milano PhD programmes is the development in the candidates of a research-oriented mindset, with expertise and skills in a specific research topic. To this end, candidates develop a problem-solving ability in complex contexts, including the capacity of performing deep problem analysis, identifying original solutions, and evaluating their applicability in practical contexts. These skills provide the PhD candidates with major opportunities of development in their research both in the academic field and in public and private organisations.

At the beginning of the programme, candidates become members of a research team, within which they develop an original research contribution (PhD thesis).

In parallel to this fundamental activity, core of the learning process, candidates are involved in educational courses characterising the PhD programme and in other activities, carrying out research under the guidance of his/her supervisor and the Design Board of professors.

Study plan, courses and calendar
Reviews and Assessment
Scientific publication
Internship abroad
01. PhD courses

The PhD Courses are related to the discipline of design and to research methodologies and practices.

Other activities are those educational activities specifically regarding the areas of research in which the PhD programme as well as the Department is articulated.

02. PhD thesis

The PhD thesis must contribute to increase the knowledge in the candidate’s research field. Besides, it has to be coherent with the research topics developed in the Department where the PhD programme is carried out. The original research results are collected in the PhD thesis, where the candidate’s contribution is brought into correlation with the research state of the art in the specific research field.

03. Structured training activities

The PhD programmes and the PhD School activate teaching forms of different kind and credit value, including courses, seminars, project workshops, and laboratories.
Lessons are usually held in English.
Structured training activities grant the possibility of earning ECTS credits.

04. Other activities

Other activities, typically specialised and for which it is difficult to evaluate the learning and its quantification, fall within the activities which the Board of Professors takes into account in the overall evaluation, but they do not allow one to earn ECTS.

The schema illustrates the curriculum that each PhD candidate must fill out, for purposes of the attribution of academic credit.

Download the schema

Study plan

During the first semester of enrolment, the candidate has to submit a study plan. Dedicated online procedure (Online Services): polimi.it/servizionline

n.45 academic credits

are required to be accumulated for the Design PhD curriculum

These credits must be acquired via the courses offered by the PhD in Design programme, the courses offered by the PhD School and other activities.

For the admission to the final exam, acquisition of at least 45 credits is mandatory.

The third year should be entirely devoted to the development of the thesis.

Download the courses calendar

Candidates are required to take 5 PhD courses:

  • 3 are provided by the PhD programme in Design (see schema)
  • 2 are provided by the Polimi PhD School, that organises general and Interdoctoral courses every year that can be freely selected here.

Other credits can be obtained by choosing among courses provided by PhD programmes of other universities or by the attendance of workshops, summer schools or seminars cycles.

The external activity selected must:

  • be addressed also to PhD candidates or researchers as well;
  • be relevant to the candidate’s research topic;
  • last at least 25 hours.

To secure approval of these, the candidate must send a request to the PhD Secretary Office and to prof. Rodolfo Maffeis (rodolfo.maffeis@polimi.it), providing a description of the external activity selected and a motivation letter that illustrates the main features and the actual scientific relevance of the course you’d like to attend. You should also explain the connections between the course and your research, as well as your interest and involvement in the matter.

Before attending the course, you must insert “Optional Course” 1 or 2 into your study plan online. By the end of the course you will be asked to write a report on your activity and learnings. Such a document must be sent to prof. Rodolfo Maffeis and it will be evaluated for the validation of the course.

Prof. Silvia Pizzocaro | 5 ects

December 3rd | 11.15am-1.15pm
December 14th | 11.15am-1.15pm
December 17th | 11.15am-1.15pm
January 11th | 11.15am-1.15pm
January 14th | 11.15am-1.15pm
January 18th | 11.15am-1.15pm
January 21th | 11.15am-1.15pm
January 25rd | 11.15am-1.15pm
January 28th | 11.15am-1.15pm
February 1st | 11.15am-1.15pm
February 4th | 2.00pm-7.00pm

Prof. Daniela Sangiorgi | 5 ects

January 13th | 2.15pm-5.15pm
January 27th | 2.15pm-4.15pm
February 17th | 2.15pm-5.15pm
March 3rd | 2.15pm-4.15pm
March 17th | 2.15pm-5.15pm
March 31th | 2.15pm-4.15pm
April 14th | 2.15pm-5.15pm
April 28th | 2.15pm-4.15pm
May 19th | 2.15pm-5.15pm
June 3rd | 2.15pm-4.15pm
June 16th | 2.15pm-5.15pm
June 30th | 2.15pm-4.15pm

Proff. Chiara Colombi, Stefano Maffei, Jonathan Chapman | 5 ects
23-29 June 2021

From June 23rd to June 29th

Proff. Lucia Rampino, Cabirio Cautela, Elena Caratti | 10 ects
September – November 2021

Additional information in the Paper Publication section.

Reviews and Assessment

Mid-term review (1st, 2nd, 3rd year)

Each year candidates submit their ongoing work on the PhD thesis to a commission consisting of Department members and Board representatives, in order to assess the research progress.

The Mid-term reviews support the development of the doctoral path through milestones to be reached every year and thanks to the possibility to discuss the ongoing research to professors of the Department of Design.

As illustrated in the schema above, the Mid-term reviews take place in July of the first year and in March of the second and in May of the third year. Further information and formats required will be provided by e-mail about 4-8 weeks in advance by the PhD Secretary.

Annual assessment (1st, 2nd year)

At the end of the 1st and of the 2nd year, the PhD board committee assess the candidates’ activities for their admission to the following year.

The PhD candidate is required to prepare a PhD Annual Review, which sets out to concisely illustrate the research progress and the activities done.

  • The format is available on the Online Services (PhD Student Career), it has to be approved by the supervisor and uploaded on the Online Services.
  • The submission deadline and the procedure details will be notified by e-mail about 4-8 weeks in advance by the PhD Secretary.
The Annual Review is structured as follows
  • a short text summarising the research progress (status of research plan, etc.)
  • list of the candidate’s activities and qualifications
  • a list of the scientific production (publications)
  • a copy of (or a selection of) the scientific publications listed as attachment.

This assessment does not require the presence of candidates and supervisors, since it will be made on the basis of the Annual Review and of the scientific publications attached.


Candidates receive an evaluation (A/B/C/D). Candidates who do not pass the exam will be qualified as “Repeating candidate” (Er) or “unable to carry on with the PhD” (Ei).

Final assessment: steps (3rd year)

The 3rd year steps are briefly illustrated hereunder. A dedicated meeting is organized at the beginning of the third year.

Candidates undertaking a doctoral path of 4 years – such as candidates admitted through international agreement – will follow these steps during the 4th year.

European Doctorate

Candidates who would like to ask for a “European Doctorate” must read the “Regolamento del Dottorato di Ricerca del Politecnico di Milano” (art.11(10)) and inform the PhD Secretary Office prior to the 3rd year assessment.


Indication of 2 External Examiners

Selected by the PhD candidate together with his/her supervisor

Plagiarism check of the thesis

Through the Software provided by the PhD School

Thesis delivery

Version of the thesis as close as possible to the final one



Evaluation by external Examiners


Delivery of the final thesis


Final exam

Scientific Publication

The scientific university production is a fundamental element to spread the scientific knowledge and research topics developed in each department and to be part of an international exchange of ideas. PhD candidates are required to obtain 10 credits within their Educational Framework. Scientific publication(s) must be in English, addressed to an international academic audience.

A. Conference proceeding or non-indexed journal

A publication within conference proceedings/non-indexed journals provides 5 credits

B. Indexed Journal

A publication in indexed journals (WOS and/or Scopus) provides 10 credits.

The IRIS-Re.Public@Polimi platform can be access from Online Services.

Every year, the Polimi staff is asked to upload the scientific publications on the IRIS-Re.Public platform – Institutional Research Information System, linked to the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) – the institutional repository of the publications produced by scholars and researchers at the Politecnico di Milano.

Fundamentals for the upload on the IRIS-Re.Public platform:

Annual upload

The annual deadline to upload the publications is communicated by the Department via e-mail

Correct affiliation

Only products that show an explicit statement of the author’s affiliation with “Politecnico di Milano - Design Department” can be uploaded on the IRIS catalogue [NB: do not translate “Politecnico di Milano” in English!]

Already published

Only products that have actually been published can be uploaded

The complete guidelines on the evaluation procedure for scientific credentials are provided on the Polimi Intranet (Come fare per > Ricerca > Pubblicazioni > Catalogo prodotti della ricerca).

Contact office for the IRIS-Re.Public@Polimi online platform
Research Support Office: produzionescientifica-design@polimi.it

The report of the Polimi scientific production – sent to the “Ministry of Education, Universities, and Research” – contributes, in fact, to our University National and International Ranking and resultant National funding distribution.

Internship abroad

The PhD programme favours the candidates’ research interactions with other groups (universities, research centres, companies) in their research field to develop their research work and thesis.

  • PhD candidates with scholarship granted by Politecnico di Milano: internship abroad is compulsory
  • PhD candidates without scholarship: internship is recommended but not compulsory; it can be replaced by other activities (see courses schema)
  • PhD candidates admitted through international agreement: internship is not compulsory; if done, the internship can take place in the country of origin or within the Italian/Milanese context.
Fundamental information
  • complete period abroad: 6 months (10 ects)
  • minimum period abroad: 3 months (5 ects)
  • it is allowed to stay abroad more than 6 months (up to 18 months); the number of ects will not increase
  • to activate the exchange, there has to be a signed invitation letter from the university/research centre specifying the period dates and a short description of the activity that will be accomplished by the PhD candidate. An invitation letter is necessary for each period abroad
  • the internship can be done in more than 1 institution


NB. For PhD candidates with scholarship granted by the Politecnico di Milano

For the periods spent abroad (lasting a minimum of ten days and a maximum of 6 months), the scholarship is increased by 50% for a maximum of 6 months.

NB. Every request must be agreed with your supervisor.
Whenever you take part in conferences, stages or workshops abroad, you have to:
  1. Open a new “Mission Assignment Form” request on your personal Online Services well in advance
  2. Fill in the required information also in Online Services > PhD Students Career > Requests for stays in foreign countries (at least 15 days before leaving)

A signed letter of invitation by the hosting institution must be attached to the online request.


  • Dates declared inside “Mission assignment form” should correspond with those inside “Requests for stays in foreign countries” (The path for this last point is “Online Services > PhD Students Career > Requests for stays in foreign countries”)
  • Dates of conferences should correspond with those declared inside “Mission assignment form”
Whenever you take part in conferences, stages or workshops in Italy, you have to:
  1. Open a new “Mission Assignment Form” request on your personal Online Services well in advance

NB. Dates of conferences should correspond with those declared inside “Mission assignment form”

Whenever you take part in virtual conferences, you have to:
  1. You don’t have to open a mission, please contact the Administration and Accounting office at acquisti-design@polimi.it

Teaching activities & Endowment

Participating in teaching activities as a teaching assistant or research fellow is part of the ongoing synergy between teaching and research.

Therefore, PhD candidates may participate in courses or design studios as tutors during the 3 years upon supervisor approval.

Fundamental information:

  • to get the tutor’s position within a course or design studio, it is necessary to reply to the official call for tutoring and teaching activity (polimi.it Home > Ateneo > Albo Ufficiale d’Ateneo)
  • PhD candidates can accomplish a maximum of 40 hours per year.

According to newly adopted regulations, PhD candidates are allowed to access the endowment of € 3,068.66 at their disposal.

The endowment could be used to cover the following expenses:

  • missions and expenses related to participation in conferences, congresses, summer schools
  • consumables
  • inventory assets (e.g., books), owned by the Design Department
  • correction of drafts of the theses, translation of the Doctoral Thesis, translations and/or transcriptions of manuscripts/materials that will be contained in it or useful for doctoral research
  • prints related to doctoral theses

A prior request to the Supervisor of the PhD programme in Design should be put forward.

The PhD administration will refund expenses related to activities that support the PhD research in Italy or abroad, to the extent of the aforementioned amount.

For additional information on the expenses that can be covered by the endowment contact the Design PhD Secretary Office – Simona Murina & Paola Mosca: segreteriadottorato-design@polimi.it

This document collects all the fundamental information to get an overall view of the PhD path.

It is based on the:

  • Italian Laws on PhD programmes
  • University Regulations for PhD programmes
  • information provided by the PhD School website.

National and University regulations are available at this link.

Additional Information

Contact offices

Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano
via Durando 10, 20158 Milano

Coordinator of the Design PhD programme – Lucia Rampino: lucia.rampino@polimi.it

Design PhD Secretary Office – Simona Murina & Paola Mosca: segreteriadottorato-design@polimi.it; +39 02 2399 7245/5934

Representative of the PhD candidates within the Design Department – Francesca Mattioli: francesca.mattioli@polimi.it

Administration and Accounting Office: acquisti-design@polimi.it

Support Office for the IRIS platform: produzionescientifica-design@polimi.it

Guarantee Committee (CUG): www.cug.polimi.it

The CUG (Comitato Unico di Garanzia) is the sole committee for the guarantee of equal opportunities, the valorisation of the wellbeing of workers and against discrimination (Italian Law n. 183/2010). You can contact them for any issues connected to the well-being in the working environment to get any support needed. The privacy of the communicated issue is guaranteed.