Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Italian Studies

Warnborough College PhD in Italian History

  • Is your interest in Italian culture, history and art more than a tourist’s guidebook?
  • Like Rome conquered the ancient world, want to conquer your knowledge on the nation from which sprang civilisations?

There is probably no other country which has had two periods of greatness — Rome and the Renaissance — when it exerted an enormous international influence. Why not pursue the study of the literature and history of this fantastic country with the Warnborough PhD in Italian Studies?

Italy has given us, among other things, opera (Peri and Caccini), the sonnet (Iacopo da Lentini), double-entry book-keeping and the first printed textbook on modern accounting (Luca Pacioli), the first bank (Monte dei Paschi di Siena), the oldest European College (Bologna), the first medical school (Salerno), the barometer (E. Torricelli), the experimental method (Galileo), the first treatise on human anatomy (Mondino dei Liuzzi), the foundations of modern historiography and aesthetics (G. B. Vico), the piano (Bartolomeo Cristofori) and the violin (Gasparo da Salò), the discovery of America (Columbus), wireless telegraphy (Marconi), the telephone (Antonio Meucci) and the typewriter (G. Ravizza), as well as more than seventy percent of the world’s art treasures.

Individuals with a deep understanding of Italy will find this program useful as it provides the tools and skills to translate this knowledge for use in a professional context. The broad knowledge that this program gives appeals to employers in areas such as teaching, reasearch, journalism and publications, course development and curricula design, civil service, local government, charities, information technology, solicitor’s firms and publishing.

The program has several related aims:

  • To develop the candidates understanding of Italy’s history and how it progressed from the ‘magna Grecia’ or ‘Great Greece’, through the Roman Empire and the Renaissance.
  • To introduce the important contributors to Italian culture, literature, art and language, namely Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Giambattista Vico.
  • To understand the impact of critical events in Italian history, such as the Risorgimento.
  • To develop the necessary reasoning and analytical skills for accomplishing this.

Graduate students of Italian Studies will deepen current understandings, and will be expected to work independently and aggressively to identify and secure an understanding of the issues that seem most meaningful, the challenge of which will have the potential to stimulate the candidate to contribute to new knowledge and ideas in the discipline.

This endeavour will be pursued through a process of exploration and discovery that will inform students’ knowledge and further improve their analytical, critical, research and writing skills. A primary goal of graduate study is to facilitate recognition in the wider significance of Italian Studies.

Students should choose any six papers (of between 7,000 to 8,000 words each) from the following topics. Each is worth 20 credits. Students do have the option of suggesting other acceptable topics, subject to the approval of the mentor and the College.

Also, students are required to submit a dissertation (of between 20,000 to 25,000 words, worth 40 credits), on any topic, subject to the mentor’s approval.:

   1.      Magna Grecia
How were the Italioti and Sicelioti civilisations established? What were the consequences of the Roman invasion in 280 BC? How did the Magna Grecia period advance philosophy and the arts?

   2.      The Etruscans
The Roman Empire influenced the modern western world, but who influenced the Romans? How did the Etruscans originate Italian civilisation? What innovations did the Etruscans bring to the creative arts?

   3.      Roman Civilization
How did the Roman empire establish peace across it’s territory? What kind of rule did the Romans establish and what political methods did it employ? Why did the Romans have a strong sense of ‘citizenship’ and what did this mean for the people?

   4.      Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
How accurately did Dante capture the essence of Medieval Italy in his works? What were Dante’s contributions to the Italian language?

   5.      Humanism and the Renaissance
In what ways did the Italian Renaissance influence Europe as a whole? What was Petrach’s fundamental belief in the value of Man? What changes did the philosophy of Humanism bring about?

   6.      Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael
How have da Vinci’s contributions to science and the arts inspired modern thought? To what extent do Michelangelo and Raphael capture the essence of the Renaissance in their works?

   7.      G. B. Vico
What is the relationship between Man and Nature? How has Vico’s thought been encorporated into modern thinking?

   8.      Cesare Beccaria and the Lombard Enlightenment
What relations do we see between Beccarias’s writings on crime and punishment and that of modern western penal systems?

   9.      The Risorgimento
What impact did the Risorgimento have in Italy as a nation? Was a unified Italy the right thing to do?

  10.     Dissertation
20,000 to 25,000 words, on any topic, subject to the mentor’s approval.

The Programme will be conducted by distance learning, through self-paced research, under the guidance of the Programme Director.

Program Director: Dr Noor Giovanni Mazhar.
Dr. Mazhar’s degree in Italian (B.A., London) was followed by an M.Phil.(London) on Giacomo Zanella: his poetica, poetry and historical significance. His Ph.D. (Liverpool) on the “Catholic Attitudes to Evolution in Nineteenth-Century Italian Literature” was published, in Venice, by the Veneto Institute of Sciences, Letters and Arts. His research interests include: literary criticism, Science-Faith issues, the History of Ideas in a literary context and the role of literature in relation to society, science, philosophy and theology.

For more information please see the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact Dr Mazhar at or The Warnborough Team!