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PlanumNews_PHD Urban Planning Design and Policy_2020_Banner

5 May 2019

PhD Programme in Urban Planning, Design and Policy (UPDP) |
Politecnico di Milano PhD School

Milan, Italy
APPLICATION DEADLINE | 29th May 2020 (2pm, italian time)
SCHOLARSHIPS: 8 (3 open topic + 5 thematic scholarships)
• Politecnico di Milano
• Politecnico di Milano PhD School 
• DAStU - Department of Architecture and Urban Studies


The PhD Programme in Urban Planning, Design and Policy was initiated in 2013 through the merging of two earlier programmes both based in the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies. This is one of the most important departments in Italy in the field of urban studies, integrated in a strong international network of academic institutions. As one of 180 departments selected and financed by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research for the "Departments of Excellence" initiative, the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies in the five-year period 2018-2022 will focus its efforts on the issue of territorial fragility. The PhD programme in Urban Planning, Design and Policy benefits from this rich research environment and aims at training young researchers in the field of urban studies according to the best international standards. Over the last six years, twelve PhD candidates have graduated and five more are expected to do so in 2020.

The PhD Programme in Urban Planning, Design and Policy aims at exploring the significance and impact of contemporary urban changes and understanding the way these changes can be governed through planning, design, and policy-making activities. The programme pays specific attention to recent spatial, environmental, social, and economic dynamics taking place in urban contexts, as well as to pro-active advancements in planning practices and to potential innovations in traditional urban studies, urban design, and policy making. Based on a multidisciplinary approach, the main objective of both the educational programme and the individual research training is to offer PhD candidates a challenging environment with space for international debate, research, experimentation, and innovation.
The main courses and workshops are focused on the following areas:

• Urban changes. Contemporary cities are worldwide confronted with increasing challenges regarding social inequality, local democracy, environmental, social and economic sustainability, and cultural diversity. The main issues addressed are: social, economic, environmental, and territorial transformations; technological change that cities are facing; social and political innovation strategies.
• Planning theories and practices. Different planning fields and cultures are explored through a critical and comparative approach. The main issues addressed are: paradigms, traditions, and innovations in planning theory; land use planning and its relationship with citizenship and justice; comparative studies about planning systems; the relationship between planning theory and practice; visioning and the strategic dimension in plans, policies, and projects.
• Design topics, forms, and tools. Theoretical and technical issues for the construction of urban projects and the implementation of public policies are addressed through specific research themes. The main themes addressed are: the role and form of urban projects in driving territorial change; innovations in the descriptions and representations of cities and landscapes; evaluation and management of urban projects to balance the financial feasibility of land development with land protection, biodiversity, and energy saving.

According to its international orientation, the programme intends to train highly qualified researchers and professionals. They are all expected to work worldwide in academic institutions, research centres, public administrations, and the private sector in the following fields: spatial planning; design and management of urban and landscape projects; urban policies, and urban studies.

The PhD programme grants three scholarships financed by the Italian Ministry of University and Research. Applicants may freely submit a research proposal related to innovative topics of personal interest. 
Please see the UPDP brochure in the download section for more information.

Proposals covering the following topics are encouraged:

•  Multiple institutional levels and land-use issues: the case of infrastructure. 
• Coping with territorial fragility: challenges to planning theory and practices. 
• Planning in the face of financialisation. 
• After implementation: a retrospective research on policies and their effects. 
• Architects, Engineers, Planners: how do the changing urban conditions require to redesign research and professional profiles? 
• Mobility, Accessibility, and spatial inequalities. Understanding and managing the deep intertwining of urban mobilities and socio-spatial transformations. 
• Climate change and urban resilience. Spatial planning and ecological perspective for human well-being and for the livability of the contemporary city. 
• New structures of spatial and socio-economic inequalities, local welfare policies and labour market, new working spaces, social inclusion, and spatial regeneration: social justice, social cohesion, redistribution, social investment, sustainability, transformations in the labour market and space implications. 
• Ageing in different urban/rural contexts, between autonomy and support: issues in housing, care, accessibility, mobility and social relations. 
• Beyond city-ism and metropolitan-ism: new spatial imaginaries, emerging forms of agencies, and the necessity of interrelated and trans-scalar approaches to governance problems in large urban regions. 

Applicants may also apply for five thematic scholarships, designed for students who wish to conduct research in specific subfields of urban studies:

1. More than social housing. Potentials and challenges in the innovation and re-actualization of the social housing sector. 
This position is co-financed by FEDERCASA | Academic Supervisor: Prof. Massimo Bricocoli (
2. Planning trails and routes for slow tourism: Policies and models to experience the landscape and reduce territorial marginalities. 
This position is co-financed with resources of the Italian Ministry of Transport | Academic Supervisor: Prof. Paolo Pileri (
3. Cyber-capital and impact on the urban rent
This is an interdisciplinary grant. The research is carried out in cooperation with the PhD programme in Data Analytics and Decision Sciences | Academic Supervisors: Prof. Valeria Fedeli ( and Prof. Simone Vantini (
4. Slow tourism models for the inclusive regeneration of territories
This position is financed by the National Social Security Institute (INPS) and is reserved for children and orphans of Italian public sector workers | Academic Supervisor: Prof. Paolo Pileri (
5. The city takes care of little citizens: studies to redevelop urban spaces in front of schools
This position is financed by the National Social Security Institute (INPS) and is reserved for children and orphans of Italian public sector workers | Academic Supervisor: Prof. Paolo Pileri (

Applicants are requested to fill out the online application form and attach the required documents by 29th May 2020, 2 pm (Italian time zone).

The PhD Program in Urban Planning, Design and Policy welcomes foreign and Italian students.
• English is the official language of the program.
• All candidates will be admitted with the basic departmental scholarships, and the specific research subject will be assigned, with the agreement of the candidate and the Board of Professors of the PhD Programme, within the first years of the PhD activity.

UPDP Webpage on the PhD School - POLIMI Website
• UPDP Webpage on DAStU Website
• 36th CYCLE Ph.D. CALL 2020/2021 - POLIMI Website         

• Prof. Massimo Bricocoli | Head of Department
• Prof. Luca Gaeta | Research director of UPDP PhD Programme 
• Dr. Alice Buoli | PhD Tutor 

PhD Office at POLIMI School of Doctoral Programs

PhD Office at DAStU
• Dr. Marina Bonaventura
T. +39.02.2399.5165
• Dr. Marilena Mastalli 
T. +39.02.2399. 5405