The PhD in Culture Studies (doutoramento em estudos de cultura) aims to explore the various relationships of signs within social communication systems that are embedded in complex cultural dynamics and contexts. This allows students to develop critical perspectives on multiple social phenomena.

[The application process is permanently open. Learn more in APPLICATIONS].


The PhD Program in Culture Studies is set in the broad field of what, in international terms, is called cultural sciences and cultural studies. Based on a solid theoretical research, it provides students with devices for systematic understanding and research methods. This PhD also intends to contribute to the adaptation of these studies to sociocultural change of reality. This establishes a broad transdisciplinary dialogue between the traditional areas of the social sciences and the humanities. At the same time, it stimulates the knowledge and study of new approaches. Particularly relevant are the scientific dialectics with communication, philosophy, sociology of culture, language sciences, history, cultural management, media studies, creative industries and cultural policies. The program thus covers an area of diverse social and cultural interests, presenting also a plurality of methodological and scientific perspectives.

Finally, the PhD Program in Culture Studies aims to understand contemporary and classical trends of sociocultural existence in order to develop professional skills within the multiple discourses that cross the world.


The Applications process is always open.

Professors Adelaide Meira Serras and Nelson Pinheiro


Academic Degree:

3 academic years (6 semesters).

180 ECTS


You may apply for the PhD in Culture Studies if you have: 1. A master’s degree or legal equivalent; 2. A foreign higher academic degree, awarded following a second cycle of studies organized in accordance with the principles of the Bologna Process by a State adhering to this Process; 3. A holder of a foreign higher academic degree recognized as meeting the objectives of the MA degree by the Scientific Board of the School; 4. The holder of an academic, scientific or professional curriculum that is recognized as attesting the ability to undertake this cycle of studies by the scientific board of the School.

Please review the general application information and the specific instructions for this program as follow.
The application process is online and is identical for both Portuguese and international applicants (see below for required documents). To start the application process, the candidate must access the Application Portal: Application Portal.

Calendar and Classes:

  1. Students who enter in September will have their first semester between September and January; and the second semester between January and May.
  2. Students can choose to attend either two or three face-to-face courses. The two curricular units of Topics in Cultural Studies are always mandatory and face-to-face (weekly during one semester, 3 hours each). Students can choose a face-to-face/weekly or tutorial open elective. This model facilitates the integration of student-workers. The Program tries to facilitate these two mandatory units in the most post-work schedule possible.
  3. Mandatory Guided Readings seminars have a tutorial regime, focusing on autonomous work, with occasional online and/or face-to-face sessions (according to each case). The Program offers a free option seminar along similar lines, dedicated to individual research, in order to facilitate the integration of international students and student workers.
  4. International students may choose to attend, in a face-to-face regime, only one academic semester (in the academic year 2024/25 it will be between September 2024 and January 2025). The remaining works can be developed remotely with tutorial support.
  5. Language: Classes are mostly in Portuguese or Portuguese-English, but each unit is prepared to offer teaching/discussion moments in English and tutorial support. Also, students can participate in classes and choose to develop their assignments in English. The thesis may be written in English, pending a request from each student. Students may also write their thesis in Spanish, pending a request and the approval of the supervisor.


You must attach the following documents:
» Research pre-project indicating the area of research and the objectives to be achieved, up to a maximum of three pages. It is mandatory to indicate the research line you wish to develop. In addition to indicating the research line, the pre-project must include a brief summary of up to twenty lines with general objectives and the theme/problem that you wish to study; when relevant, you can also present authors you would like to focus on and/or a methodological framework; a schedule of activities; a bibliographic list; among other elements considered relevant for the pre-project. However, it is important to leave room for the continuous construction of the conceptual-methodological framework and the structure of the thesis during the program, so as to benefit from contact with the professors and the contents of the seminars. In this sense, it is important to align the project with the professors’ and the program’s investigation. Thus, in the program’s first year, students will meet with one or more professors to learn about proposals combining their projects and the lines/topics/domains of the professors and the program, choosing the one that best responds to their interests.
» Masters Certificate, or equivalent legal document.
» Curriculum vitae. The curriculum should underline the academic and professional experiences that most contribute to a profile in the study of culture and communication. Other postgraduate and specialization training will be considered.
» Identification Document.

Note. You may also attach any other diplomas, documents or certificates that you find useful to your application.

Study Path for 2023-24 (changes may still take place)

1st year (curricular part of the PhD):

» Topics in Culture Studies I, 1st semester, 12 ECTS/credits. This unit focuses on the traditions, schools and authors that built some of the major practices and topics/themes in Culture Studies.

» Topics in Culture Studies II, 1st semester, 12 ECTS/credits. This seminar focus on the production of culture in different contexts and sectors.

» Guided Readings I, 1st semester, 12 ECTS/credits. This tutorial unit will explore the concept of culture to help students define their own operational culture for the individual research.

» Guided Readings II, 2nd semester, 12 ECTS/credits. This tutorial unit will explore different hermeneutical and field methods, guiding students to the best methodological framework for their research.

» Open Elective.

2nd and 3rd years:

» Thesis Project (defense). In the third semester, with the supervisor, students will develop and submit their thesis project for public discussion, receiving important feedback for the rest of the research.

» Supervision Seminar. During the third and fourth semesters, students will work with their supervisors in the thesis project and all the elements necessary to develop the research.

» Thesis. At the end of the sixth semester, students finish the writing of their thesis and submit the work for a public discussion.

Theme Research Lines

The doctoral research pre-project with which the student applies for the doctoral program must focus on one of the following thematic lines, or on a link between two, in order to ensure an immersive work in the research being developed by the teachers and by the Program: Culture: Identities and Power; Communication, Discourse and Society; Trends and Culture Management.

Notwithstanding the lines presented, the programs’ scientific committee is open to receiving and appreciating innovative proposals on opening up new disciplinary fields or on problematizing themes that are of great scientific and societal interest.

The Thesis

The doctoral thesis can assume several models:

  1. It can have a critical and essayistic character, reflecting some of the more traditional practices of Cultural Studies. The critical narrative addresses cultural phenomena, dynamics and objects by exploring power relations and making different aspects visible, through a specific conceptual and theoretical framework. This can also be a space to create theory and review concepts, thus contributing to the meta-discipline as a whole.
  2. It is possible to develop a more empirically or case-study-oriented research guided by methodological protocols – hermeneutic and/or fieldwork. Student build his analytical experience to understand, in depth, a problem in its specific context. It is common that methodological innovations also appear in these exercises or an innovative combination of methods to answer certain questions.
  3. The thesis can also follow a more applied project-oriented focus, where a conceptual-methodological framework is used to test models, practices and solutions to issues identified in different contexts of everyday life. It is possible to combine practices and techniques of cultural/art production, communication, management and strategy, design, including different technological instruments, and to build innovative solutions in the social and scientific field.
  4. In exceptional and very well justified cases, which require authorization, it is possible to undertake a research structure that promotes different small individual sections of high scientific rigor that are tied together by a guiding theme and by a solid introduction and conclusion capable of underlining the contribution of the research as a whole.