Dottorato di Ricerca di Interesse Nazionale

Ph.D. in “Life Course Research” (

Scientific Coordinator: Prof. Daniele Vignoli

Other DiSIA membersRaffaele Guetto (Coordinator of the Socio-Demographic curriculum), Elena PiraniGustavo De Santis.



Network: Università di Firenze (coordinating University), Università di Bari, Libera Università di Bolzano, Università di Cagliari, Università della Calabria, Università di Catania, Università Milano-Bicocca, Università del Molise, Università di Napoli Federico Secondo, Università di Padova, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Università di Roma Campus Biomedico, Università di Palermo, Università di Pisa, Università di Roma Sapienza, Università di Sassari, Università di Torino, IRCCS Don Gnocchi, Università di Ferrara, Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Andrological Sciences Onlus, Scuola Sant’Anna di Pisa, Università di Siena, Università di Bologna, Università di Salerno, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Università di Messina, Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia.


Brief description of the Ph.D.

The life of humans, from conception to death, unfolds along a path that traverses the perinatal period, infancy, adolescence, adulthood, and eventually old age. This progression has often led to a segmented study of life stages throughout the course of ages. Biomedical disciplines have dissected this journey by examining changes in vital processes and the varying predisposition to diseases. Developmental psychology and social psychology have identified developmental stages from infancy to old age, describing the trajectories and mechanisms that account for shifts in behavior and its neurobiological substrates, elucidating pathways of resilience and vulnerability. Demography has determined age-specific mortality probabilities from birth, accounting for various differential aspects. Moreover, it has quantitatively described family and reproductive dynamics and how generations of children succeed those of their parents. Sociology has investigated the interrelationships between life course events and the economic and social context.

The overarching theoretical framework that allows the integration of these disciplinary traditions into a unified foundational perspective is the life course approach, employing a bio-psychosocial perspective. The life course perspective enables the organic study of how events that mark individuals' lives in their main phases of growth, maturation, and decline manifest and change over time and space, as well as how these events interconnect individual biographies.

The Ph.D. program in Life Course Research fosters the study of life courses and the significant events that shape them from a holistic and transdisciplinary perspective. The program establishes an alliance among scholars from the biomedical, psychological, and socio-demographic fields.

The Ph.D. program in Life Course Research will train a new generation of highly skilled scholars relying on an evidence-based approach with a strong emphasis on quantitative methods and data analysis.

Unique features of the Ph.D. program in Life Course Research:

  • Thematic rather than disciplinary identity
  • Super-departmental and super-regional nature of the Consortium to overcome the fragmentation of local approaches 
  • Multilevel teaching structure fueled by a large Scientific Consortium of 29 associated universities across all Italian areas


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