curriculum CoSAN


The Cognitive, Social and Affective Neuroscience (CoSAN) Ph.D. is a 3 year, multi-centre, international Ph.D. program that aims to investigate, within the framework of cognitive, social and affective neuroscience different topics spanning from embodied cognition, the neural correlates of cognitive, social and affective functions including empathy, intention, action, and emotion understanding, joint attention, joint action, cooperative and competitive behaviour, ingroup and outgroup processing and Self-Other distinction. These topics are studied in healthy subjects, along development and in subclinical, clinical and neuropsychological patients (i.e. patients with brain lesions affecting cognitive affective and social functions). All the activities of the curriculum (from students’ selection, research activities, writing and discussion of the thesis) are performed in English. Further information:


·      To provide methodological knowledge, develop theoretically sound and cogent experimental, and longitudinal-cross-sectional designs and paradigms.

·      To train Ph.D. students to be future independent researchers by supporting their proactive role from writing scientific articles to grant hunting and grant writing.

·      To encourage inquisitive, creative and critical thinking through group interaction and cooperation.

·      To reinforce the interaction between partner laboratories by sharing knowledge and expertise and through researchers' mobility. In particular, Ph.D. students will carry out their research projects at Sapienza University of Rome and another university within the PhD network.



The Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome and the Department of Psychology, City, University of London established and developed a scientific co-operation between Italian and UK teams of researchers through a formal Inter-institutional Agreement, to provide a Joint PhD Programme in ‘Psychology and Social Neuroscience’.

The agreement establishes the mobility of doctoral students from and to the partners institution for a minimum of one year in order to obtain the double Doctoral Diploma.



·    1st Year Ph.D. students are assigned to a particular research project (i.e. topic and technique) often in collaboration with other more experienced Ph.D. students and/or postdoc fellows. 

Research topic and technique are chosen by taking into account student's interests and Lab's priorities and resources. Students are trained in responsible conduct of research with human participants.

·    2nd Year Ph.D. students become more responsible for experimental protocol design, data collection and analysis and results dissemination. By the end of the second year, in order to be enrolled in the 3rd year, students must have submitted at least one paper to a peer-reviewed international journal. 

·    3rd Year Ph.D. students take a leading role in the experimental studies they are part of and may provide mentorship and support to 1st year students. At least one scientific pubblication and the positive evalution of the thesis by the external reviewers  and Phd Board of Professors are required to be admitted to the final defence

 Throughout the Ph.D. program students will:

·    Attend monthly lab meetings where they will learn and practice oral and graphical presentation of experimental paradigms, preliminary findings, results, and critical evaluation of the literature. 

·    Contribute to grant hunting and writing. 

·    Attend local and international workshops, summer schools and conferences relevant to their research topics. 

·    Contribute to organize and manage lab activities and facilities (e.g. lab meetings, conferences, lab website and databases). 

·   Spend 6-18 months to conduct research in a partner foreign laboratory. 

First year




Advanced academic courses


Seminars and laboratory activities


Research Activities


Educational and research activities chosen by the Phd student and approved by the PhD professor board



Second years

Advanced academic courses


Seminars and laboratory activities


Research Activities


Educational and research activities chosen by the Phd student and approved by the PhD professor board



Third year

Advanced academic courses


Seminars and laboratory activities 


Research activities


Educational and research activities chosen by the PhD student and approved by the PhD board of professor



Advanced academic courses


1° YEAR:

  • Satistics: Mixed Models and Bayesian statistics;
  • Basic research methods in Cognitive Social and Affective Neuroscience (literature, hypotheses, designs, techiques);
  • Matlab (Sapienza).


2° YEAR: 

  • Virtual Reality software course (building virtual environments and avatars);
  • Statistics: Power analysis;
  • Research methods in clinical and translational neurosience (literature, hypotheses, designs, techiques);
  • Corso Matlab (Sapienza).


3° YEAR:

  • Scientific English writing course (thesis and scientific paper); 
  • Advanced research methods in Cognitive Social and Affective Neuroscience (literature, hypotheses, designs, techiques);



The whole selection procedure is in English andincludes two steps:

1) CV and Degrees Evaluation 

The candidate is evaluated taking into account the Cv and academic transcript (Master Degree, exams, scientific pubblication and research experience) and the research project  concerning one of PhD programme research topics:

·    Bodily and brain correlates of Intergroup processing, stereotype and prejudice.

·    Joint attention and joint action in healthy and brain damaged people.

·    Intention, action and emotion understanding 

·    Pain perception, empathy for pain, existential neuroscience

·    Body awareness and Self-Other distinction in healthy, spinal cord injured, and brain damaged people

·    Embodiment and agency in Immersive virtual reality


2) On-site interview

On-site interviews include applicant's presentation of his/her research proposal, the knowledge of the topics and personal motivations for applying to the Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Neuroscience.



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