PhD program in Civil, environmental and materials engineering

XXXIX cycle - a.y. 2023/2024

Duration 3 years
Position 15 position available - 11 scholarships
Director/Coordinator Prof. Luca Lusvarghi
PhD website »
Admission Expiration date 27/07/2023 at 13:00
Call for admission
Final ranking Published 13/09/2023
Enrollment deadline 20/09/2023 at 15:30:00

Scientific areas

CHIM/07 (Foundations of Chemistry for Technologies), FIS/01 (Experimental physics), ICAR/02 (Hydraulic and marine constructions and hydrology), ICAR/03 03 (Environmental and Health Engineering), ICAR/06 (Topography and Cartography), ICAR/08 (Construction Science), ICAR/09 (Structural engineering), ING-IND/21 (Metallurgy), ING-IND/22 (Science and Technology of Materials)

Admission requirements

Italian second level degree (laurea specialistica, under D.M. 509/99 or laurea magistrale, under D.M. 207/04) or Italian degree obtained prior to D.M. 509/99 or equivalent qualification obtained abroad.
More information available in the Call.


The Course aims to train high-profile figures with a solid multidisciplinary background in the field of Civil, Environmental and Materials disciplines and topics closely related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) jointly endorsed by the European Commission (European Skills Agenda) and by the United Nations (United Nations 2030 Agenda). The training that the doctoral student will receive will be broad, in-depth and transversal as:

- the composition of the Doctoral College is articulated through the competences typical of Civil, Environmental and Materials Engineering, and it is further enriched by the contribution of fundamental subjects such as chemistry and physics, devoted to the study of materials, thus completing the panorama of knowledge that the doctoral student will be able to acquire during the course undertaken;

- the approach of the members of the Doctoral College to their respective disciplines ranges from analytical/numerical modelling to experimental activities, case studies and teaching laboratories, thus offering a panorama of tools (skills) that can be easily transferred to the students' professional life;

- alongside hard skills, the Course, in line with the European Skills Agenda, will place particular emphasis on the development of 'soft skills' such as communication and interpersonal skills, 'team work' and 'problem solving', open-mindedness and adaptability, through the development of group work, 'project works' and laboratory activities.

The course objectives aims to:

- train theoretical/modelling, technological and design skills aimed at the conception, design, work management, development, verification, testing, management and decommissioning of building and soil protection works, structures and infrastructures and, in general, of civil and environmental and territorial systems and plants, in compliance with the regulatory requirements in force and through the use of modern and interoperable tools (BIM, CAD, FEM);

- develop theories and innovative methods for the study and modelling of pollution phenomena and the dynamics of pollutants in the environment and in the atmosphere, to the analysis of environmental impact and health, eco-toxicological and major accident risk, to the design, management and verification of water, waste water and sludge treatment and recovery plants;

- foster the design, synthesis/production, characterisation and scaling-up of new materials in applications belonging to multiple sectors (mechanical engineering, ceramics, biomedical, aerospace, renewable energy, etc.);

It is important to emphasise the unit character of the doctoral proposal, in which the different paths fit, in a complementary way, into an interdisciplinary and interconnected path of innovation always inherent to sustainability.

In order to best achieve these objectives, the PhD course is structured through 3 curricula: one dedicated to Civil Engineering topics, a second one focused on Environmental Engineering topics and a third one focused on Materials Engineering topics. The research paths covered in this PhD Course will be integrated with the cross-curricular nature of the topics that distinguish the E4E (Engineering for Economics - Economics for Engineering) Doctoral School, to which this Course belongs.

With regard to the curriculum in Civil Engineering, particular emphasis will be placed on the innovative aspects of the construction sector, combining performance, safety, durability and healthiness, with the themes of risk mitigation (seismic, hydrogeological, fire, biological), recovery, reuse and end-of-life management of materials, also with reference to the recent harmonised regulations on Public Procurement, energy saving, green building and recycling. In order to achieve these goals, the contribution offered by the conscious use of new materials such as, for example, structural composites (FRP, FRCM, TRM, TRC) and with natural and/or recycled fibres, laminates, smart and engineered materials (metamaterials), shape memory materials and tensegrity, high-performance binders (HPC, UHPFRC), self-healing and natural, biomaterials and bio-inspired/bio-based materials is crucial.
The techniques and methods adopted are typical of physical and analytical modelling, computational and experimental mechanics and hydraulics aimed, in an interdisciplinary approach, at the design of innovative structures and materials and new structural forms. The topics covered extend to the interaction between structures and the physical environment, with particular reference to earthquake engineering, hydraulic engineering, wind engineering, natural and anthropogenic hazards, as well as vulnerability assessment, monitoring, building intervention techniques and technological and regulatory aspects.

As far as the curriculum in Environmental Engineering is concerned, in this curriculum, the study and modelling of pollution phenomena and the dynamics of pollutants in the environment and in the atmosphere; environmental impact analyses and health, eco-toxicological and major accident risk analyses; the design, management and verification of treatment and recovery plants for water, wastewater and sludge; waste management with a view to process and product sustainability for the circular economy. In addition to these applications, there are also topics concerning the protection and remediation of soil, water and air components and ecosystems, the development of monitoring plans and projects, and intervention criteria and techniques for the management, characterisation, remediation and environmental and functional recovery of contaminated soils, aquifers and sediments.
Recent research topics concern the applications of remote sensing for the study of the urban heat island (UHI), with the development of mitigation techniques based on the use of cool materials and urban green management strategies, and epidemiological studies that require knowledge of the dispersion mode and behaviour of air pollutants. These are complemented by the applications of metric, aerial and terrestrial surveying and spatial data analysis with their cartographic representation. Research activities involve natural and urbanised compartments, infrastructures and the built heritage, both modern and historical. The research topics of greatest interest are those oriented towards the development of integrated methodologies and sensors for monitoring instability processes and deformation phenomena with rigorous quantification of the achievable accuracy.

The curriculum in Materials Engineering is concerned with training in material research, starting from the design stage, where chemical compositions and architectures will be chosen (e.g.: matrix and reinforcement in composite materials, layer succession in multilayer coatings, etc.) also in light of the existing literature, moving to application of statistical methods (e.g.: DOE) and, in collaboration with European research centres and companies, multiscale modelling and machine learning. It will then continue considering material fabrication through state-of-the-art or modern synthesis and production processes of the various categories of materials (from solid-state synthesis, melting in high-temperature furnaces, high-energy milling, deposition in coating form, etc.).
The doctoral student will then assess the performance of the materials through a complete characterisation, starting from the microstructure and ending with the functional properties required for the applications for which they were designed (mechanical, tribological, anti-corrosion, electronic, magnetic, optical, chemical, biological, etc.).
The Materials Engineering topics of this PhD include all categories of materials (metals, ceramics, polymers, composites, in bulk or coating form), thanks to the training and research activities of the Council members. The extensive network of international collaborations and the involvement in numerous funded projects will enable the PhD student to tackle studies on the latest topics of strong interest in the field of Materials Engineering (e.g.: high entropy alloys, geopolymers, coatings free of critical raw materials, high solar reflectance enamels, materials and films for electrolysers for green hydrogen production, nanostructured and molecular materials, biocompatible materials for medicine, etc.).

Professional perspectives

The prospect employment range and professional job opportunities are numerous in light of the wide spectrum of the target market. In the field of civil engineering, the natural career concerns professional activities, consultancy and services, research and development (R&D), also as a company employee working for local authorities (municipal, provincial), public and private sector economic organisations, in the fields of design, planning of defence, risk prevention and mitigation, reconstruction, monitoring and control, maintenance and recovery of structures, artefacts, structural and infrastructural works, logistics and services (utilities), in the area of regulations, technical specifications and procurement, operational and disposal of materials.

Job opportunities for PhDs who have conducted research on environmental issues concern all consultancy, design and process management activities at consulting firms, construction companies, public and private industries, agencies responsible for infrastructure and services, public bodies (ARPAe, Regions, Municipalities, Civil Protection) as well as the possibility of pursuing a career at universities and research institutes, including international ones.

The research track focused on new materials will provide access to a very wide variety of industries, research centres and service organisations, due to the strong technical skills acquired in the context of knowledge/management of complex projects within international networks. In general, the European Commission envisages an approach to research on innovative materials that starts from a sustainable use of raw materials and resources, in full agreement with the training and research strategy that the PhD student will learn in this Course. Moreover, based on the EGD approach, the European Commission sees advanced materials as a fundamental pillar on which to build for the next decade, in a similar way to large European companies and research centres, which will increasingly demand highly qualified professionals capable of handling complex problems such as the PhD students who will come out of this Course.


Three years (01/11/2023 - 31/10/2026)


The course venue is in Modena.


» Call for admission and changes

» Selection committees

» Final ranking

Based on a rigorous selection process, applications are processed normally once a year. The admissions will be open in June or July 2023 (please refer to the Call).

More documentation

How to apply for the PhD Programmes (pdf)

How to apply for the Italian National PhD Program in Religious Studies (pdf)

» Guide for admission application to Ph.D. programmes

Please complete the application form and submit it electronically following the application guide. A non-returnable administrative fee of 25 € will be charged. The decision on admission as well as on financial support is published on the web.

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Contact office

For further information please contact:
PhD Office
via Università, 4 - 41121 Modena
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