School Regulations and Policies
(Approved by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees on 22 May 2019)
Establishment and purpose
For the achievement of the purposes indicated in its Statutes, the Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose “Giovanni XXIII” establishes the “Giuseppe Alberigo” School for Advanced Religious Studies, with headquarters at the Bologna Institute for Religious Studies.
The purpose of the School is the research training of young scholars in the fields of history of religions, exegesis, and theology, carried out through group study and research activities with the scholars of the Foundation and in dialogue with international scholarly communities.
The qualification awarded by the School is the Diploma of Postgraduate Specialisation in Religious Studies (Diploma di perfezionamento scientifico in Scienze Religiose), which is officially recognised – upon application and in conformity with Italian Ministerial Decree dated 19 October 1998 (Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 252, 28 October 1998) – as being equivalent to a Ph.D.
The postgraduate specialisation course (three years minimum) requires full-time residential attendance to the educational, scientific, and seminar activities of the School as well as active participation in the cultural projects of the Foundation.
The School establishes agreements and contracts with national and international universities and research institutes to implement academic exchanges as well as other cooperation programmes for research training.
In compliance with Articles 6 and 7 of the Foundation’s Statutes, the Scientific Committee of the Foundation – together with the Director of the School and the Secretary General of the Foundation – coordinates the activities of the School, performs faculty duties and, upon the School Board’s proposal, determines the seminar programmes and the research topics for the students, and also appoints their supervisors.
The Director of the School – appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, pursuant to Article 6 of the Statutes – is the legal representative of the School, supervises the School’s activities, and ensures their implementation; in particular, the Director oversees communication policies and institutional relations, as well as the efficiency and appropriateness of the School’s management, and – together with the Coordinator – oversees the relationship with the students.
The Coordinator of the School – appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Foundation – assists the Director in the operational management of the School; establishes the list of bibliographical readings (which are intensive during the first year); implements the assessment of the students’ academic performance; coordinates seminar activities; is responsible for the monitoring of the students’ progress, and keeps a stable and continuous relationships with the students, their tutors, and their supervisors; provides for the students’ curricular records and the filing and preservation of the School’s relevant documents; in particular, the Coordinator superintends the process of the recognition of the School’s specialisation Diploma’s equivalence to a Ph.D. title (procedura di equipollenza) as well as the relations with the relevant Ministry office.
Both the Director and the Coordinator participate by right in the meetings of the Scientific Committee, assisting it in all aspects of its faculty duties.
The School Board – which consists of the Director and the Coordinator of the School, the Secretary General of the Foundation, and the students’ tutors – is responsible for the monitoring and documenting of the assessment of the students’ academic progress in relation to all agreed progress goals, and submits motivated proposals to the Scientific Committee, in particular regarding candidates seeking admission to the second year of the course and the possible deferment of scholarships for an extra year over the granted three-year period.
For every three-year cycle of studies, the School offers a maximum number of three positions, of which at least one with a scholarship. Candidates of any nationality holding a Master’s or advanced degree – or equivalent non-Italian qualification recognised by Italian law – in fields relating to the content of the specialisation course, and who can demonstrate the academic and linguistic competencies indicated in the Call for Applications, may apply.
The terms and conditions to hold the scholarship, reserved to applicants that are less than 26 years of age, are set out in the Call for Applications.
With regards to income taxation and social security or social assistance benefits, including the regulations for maternity/paternity leave, students with scholarship undergo the same provisions applied to all Ph.D. university researchers in Italy.
The admission process is entrusted to an evaluation committee composed of the Secretary General of the Foundation, the Director and the Coordinator of the School, and at least two external members appointed by the Scientific Committee. This evaluation committee, whose decision cannot be appealed, determines the list of suitable candidates based on their academic qualifications, educational curriculum, research interests, and personal skills, assessed through specific seminars and tests, in accordance with the Call for Applications.
Students must attend to their studies and be involved in their research and educational activities on a full-time basis, 44 weeks per year, during the opening hours of the Institute. Students must also undertake exchanges and research periods abroad – which are agreed with the Secretary General of the Foundation in accordance with the thesis supervisor.
For each student, admission to the second and subsequent years depends on the approval of the School Board and is subject to the fulfilment of the agreed progress goals, the completion of bibliographical readings, as well as the regular attendance and fruitful participation in the seminars and cultural projects of the Foundation.
Admission to the second year, and the potential deferment of the scholarship for an extra year after the granted three-year period, requires the sanction of the Scientific Committee.
Besides relating to their tutor and the School’s Coordinator, students must directly and continuously relate to the supervisor of their thesis with regards to the topic of their research, by undergoing periodical tests and attending meetings with the thesis supervisor, in their office, fully assuming and following their indications and assessments.
For well-founded reasons, upon written request by the student to the School’s Director and to the Secretary General of the Foundation, the Scientific Committee – upon the School Board’s proposal – may grant a one-year-long suspension of the course, in all respects and only once, or a deferment of the scholarship for an extra year over the granted three-year period.
In the course of the first year of attendance, the School Board normally assigns a tutor, chosen among the researchers of the Foundation, for each student, taking into account the relevant competencies and scientific interests in the research area of the student.
The tutors assist and orient the students in their studies and research training, providing – in agreement with the Coordinator of the School and the thesis supervisor – suggestions and specifications to widen and deepen their knowledge and reach the expected results; the same results are assessed periodically by the tutor, as a member of the School Board.
Bibliographical Readings and Seminars
The students are required to complete the assigned bibliographical readings, attend the discussions scheduled by the Coordinator, and actively participate in all the seminars organised by the School.
Attendance to at least two thirds of the seminars held in any given year – upon prior registration to be communicated to the Coordinator – is compulsory and subject to assessment. Exchange and research periods abroad are not included in the computation, as is any absence for serious and proven reasons authorised by the Secretary General of the Foundation.
Assessment of the seminar activities completed by each student – which are carried out by the Coordinator or by an appointed tutor for any given seminar – relates in particular to knowledge of the preparatory materials, which derives from active and meaningful participation in the discussion. Relevant reports are added to the student’s personal file and contribute to the general evaluation of the specialisation training and further progresses in the research.
The seminar speakers indicate the essential preparatory readings to complete – potentially also within a wider bibliographical context – taking into account the period of time between the communication of said bibliography and the date of the seminar.
Research Topic and Specialisation Thesis Supervisor
During the first year of the specialisation course, the School Board decides upon the research topic of the student, with reference to the lines of research carried out by the Foundation, and the student’s personal skills and attitudes. At the same time, the School Board indicates a pool of possible supervisors to contact for the specialisation thesis, reporting to the Scientific Committee for the required approval.
The supervisor, as scientific expert in the field of the specialisation thesis, must continuously orient and verify the research work of the student, setting the in itinere objectives and time frames.
The supervisor, within 90 days prior to the date of the thesis defence, evaluates the admissibility of the thesis to the final exam. If the thesis is deemed admissible to the defence, the supervisor must submit a written admissibility judgment to the Scientific Committee, and – when possible – be part of the examination board.
The Foundation may provide a lump-sum remuneration for the appointment as supervisor, which is to be defined and formalised, on a case-by-case basis, by the Secretary General of the Foundation.
In order to obtain the diploma, at the end of the three-year course, or at a deferred time as provided in this article, students are required to sit a final examination in the form of a defence of a written dissertation on the assigned research topic (specialisation thesis) before the Scientific Committee of the Foundation, presented with a report written by the supervisor and two evaluation statements signed by two external readers, appointed by the Director of the School and the Secretary General of the Foundation.
At the end of the discussion, the Scientific Committee confers or refuses the specialisation qualification in Religious Studies (Diploma di perfezionamento scientifico in Scienze religiose).
The Scientific Committee, to perform its faculty duties and sitting in its functions of examination board, is convened in ordinary session once a year. Extraordinary exam sessions can, in particular instances, be exceptionally arranged by the Secretary General of the Foundation together with the Director of the School.
Admissibility of the thesis for the defence is subject to a preliminary judgement issued by the supervisor, whose decision cannot be appealed, and clearance on the part of the Secretary General of the Foundation, both within 90 days prior to the date of the thesis defence.
Should the admissibility judgement not be issued, the thesis defence is deferred to the following academic year, the same requirements withstanding (or, exceptionally, to a special extraordinary session).
The final printed copy of the thesis and an identical copy in pdf format must be submitted to the School’s Secretariat at least 60 days prior to the date of the final exam, accompanied by the written admissibility judgement issued by the supervisor and the clearance of the Secretary General of the Foundation. Within the same time limit, the thesis must also be formally submitted in electronic format to the supervisor – and must be then submitted to the Scientific Committee – and to the two external readers, appointed by the Director of the School together with the Secretary General of the Foundation, for the obtainment of their evaluation statements.
Upon the Secretary General of the Foundation’s proposal, the Scientific Committee may exceptionally admit scholars in the field of religious studies – whose competencies and professional or institutional roles, and whose research interests are relevant to the purposes of the Foundation – as external students to the specialisation course.
Admission to the School is contingent to the requirements listed in Article 2 and to the qualification assessment outlined in the same Article 2, Subsection 4.
The provisions listed as follows apply for external students. The general School’s Regulations and Policies in this document apply if and when compatible with the special character of external studentships.
In this instance:
- a) the provisions of full-time residential attendance to the School’s activities, as well as the exclusive commitment to the course – as outlined in Article 4, Subsection 1 – do not apply to external students;
- b) compulsory attendance to the seminars organised by the School and subject to assessment, as provided for in Article 5, is limited to a 30% attendance for external students;
- c) the tutor, as of Article 7, is usually chosen among the senior researchers of the Foundation;
- d) the research topic and the supervisor are defined by the Scientific Committee upon proposal of the Secretary General of the Foundation, after consulting the external student;
- e) the academic progress objectives of the research as well as the form and time frame of the in itinere assessment, are scheduled by the Secretary General of the Foundation together with the supervisor;
- f) the Secretary General of the Foundation defines – by reason of the importance and relevance of the research topic for the purpose of the Foundation – the possibility of financial support and other economic facilitations to be offered to external students by the Foundation;
- g) The diploma, when achieved as an external student at the end of the research course of no less than three years, has an exclusively curricular nature and does not have the requirements for the recognition of the academic title of Ph.D., conferred by Italian universities in conformity with Italian Ministerial Decree dated 19 October 1998 (Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 252, 28 October 1998). External students are therefore not counted in the number of positions for each three-year training period, provided for by the said Ministerial Decree dated 19 October 1998.
Joint Supervision of the Thesis
The School establishes collaborations with other universities as well as foreign research institutions for the joint supervision of theses in the fields of history of religions, exegesis, and theology for students enrolled in the School’s specialisation courses or Ph.D. courses held by partner institutions. Joint supervision is regulated by a specific agreement between the School and the other institution, undersigned by the legal representatives of said institution, by the Secretary General of the Foundation, and by the Director of the School.
The agreement includes: the topic of the thesis; the permanence of the doctoral candidate at the School, or at the partner institution for at least one semester; the requirements for the admission and attendance frequency at the partner institution; the appointment of two thesis supervisors, one for each partner institution in the agreement; the membership of the examination commission of the thesis to be held at the student’s home institution, with the participation of at least one lecturer appointed by the partner institution; the drafting of the thesis in the language indicated by the student’s home institution.
Following a positive evaluation report issued by the examination board, a third-level (Ph.D.) qualification is awarded to the student by the partner university, and a “Diploma of Post-graduate Specialisation in Religious Studies” is awarded by the School: this Diploma is officially recognised – upon application and in conformity with Italian Ministerial Decree dated 19 October 1998 (Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 252, 28 October 1998) – as being equivalent to a Ph.D.