About us

The Master degree in Psychology, Neuroscience and Human Sciences is coordinated by the Department of Brain and Behavioural Sciences of the University of Pavia (DBBS), and by the Department of Humanities and Life Sciences of the University School for Advanced Studies (IUSS).

The DBBS integrates all neurological, neuroscientific, psychiatric and psychological departments present at the University of Pavia, in close collaboration with the C. Mondino National Neurological Institute. This new integrated research centre has been established in 2012 in order to expand and support teaching and research activities in the psychological and neuroscientific domains. Since its inception, the DBBS has always received the highest evaluations for both didactic and scientific qualities. It is consistently among the top-3 Italian institutions in psychology.

The Department of Humanities and Life Sciences of the IUSS (formerly Cognitive, Social and Behavioral Sciences Area), has started its activities in 2010 and reached a fully operational level during 2014. The original activities in theoretical linguistics and neurolinguistics have been integrated with additional research areas in cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, epistemology, economics and social sciences. The unifying element of the area is a global conception of the human sciences, which, starting from the biological basis, extends to psychological processes to formal philosophical reflection and to the study of the social and economic contexts. This approach is carried out through interdisciplinary research programs in specific areas such as language, decision-making and the philosophy of mind.

Both DBBS and IUSS in 2017 received the status of “Department of Excellence”  by the Italian National Ranking System.

Historical background and future perspectives

The University of Pavia and the University School for Advanced Studies IUSS Pavia are the key institutions in a long lasting higher education process started in 825 A.D. when Lotharius I, Emperor of the Romans and King of Italy appointed Pavia, the ancient capital of the Lombard kingdom, as the site for higher education. This process led to the foundation in 1361 by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, of the Studium Generale, later on named “University of Pavia” and it later became the sole University of the Duchy of Milan. After the decline during the Spanish domination, the University’s prestige was restored by Maria Theresa Sovereign of Austria and Holy Roman Empress.

Focusing on science, we can mention a few of the famous faculty who taught at the University of Pavia. These include Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576), who invented the “cardanic joint”, a fundamental mechanical device; Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), the inventor of the battery; Antonio Scarpa (1752-1832), who gave his name to many anatomical parts such as “the Scarpa triangle”, and the Nobel Laureate Camillo Golgi (1843-1926), who invented the so-called “black reaction”, which, for the first time, displayed the ramified structure of nerve cells, and discovered many microstructures including the famous “Golgi complex”. The University of Pavia system provides a unique opportunity for more than 20,000 students, including a choice of University colleges. Among these are the “Almo Collegio Borromeo” and the “Collegio Ghislieri”, which were established in the 16th century. There are now fifteen colleges, hosting almost 2,000 students, offering a unique opportunity to study and cultural enrichment in a multidisciplinary and multiethnic environment. Throughout the centuries, the University of Pavia became one of the leading institutions in Europe. It is worth mentioning that in the early stages of investigating the human nervous system during the early 19th century, Pavia was a worldwide leading institution for neuroscience. Not only did Golgi receive the Nobel prize for his “Black reaction” discovery, but many other researchers contributed to an enormous number of critical scientific studies, including the discovery of serotonin by researchers such as Vittorio Erspamer, Ottorino Rossi, Casimiro Mondino and many others. The Camillo Golgi Neuroscience museum is still present and open to the public at the University of Pavia. This longstanding tradition has now a new future under the Human Brain Project, a flagship European project where the DBBS is one of the leading coordination centres in Europe.

Since 1997, IUSS fulfills an advanced teaching and research model successfully implemented by two other prestigious institutions in Italy; the Scuola Normale Superiore and the Scuola Sant’Anna in Pisa. The core mission of IUSS is to contribute to the growth of a small number of students, selected among five University colleges and offering throughout their higher education, qualified programs at an international level enhancing their capabilities and knowledge in an interdisciplinary fashion depending on the choices, the specific fields and outstanding qualifications of the professors constituting the Faculty. IUSS is also committed to scientific progress by promoting Ph.D. programs and developing research activities at an international level. There is a very strong connection between the Pavia college system and the Degree in Neuroscience and Human Sciences and a number of positions will be allocated specifically to highly motivated students enrolled in the Master Degree in Psychology, Neuroscience and Human Sciences.