Name of the Institution
Università di Pisa (University of Pisa)
Chancellor's Office and Administration Building
Rector : Prof. P.M. Mancarella
Central administration : Lungarno Pacinotti 43/44, 56100 Pisa
Tel.: +39 050 2212172
ECTS Institutional Coordinator
Prof. F. Marcelloni
Lungarno Pacinotti, 43. 56100 Pisa.
International Relations Office Ufficio Rapporti Internazionali
Lungarno Pacinotti, 43. 56100 Pisa.
Office hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.
LSUD (Long studies, State University, courses of four or more years leading to a "Laurea" degree).
The University of Pisa is a research and teaching institution which includes:
- 20 Departments: Biology; Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry; Civilisations and Forms of Knowledge; Economics and Management; Pharmacy; Philology; Literature and Linguistics; Physics; Law; Computer Science; Civil and Industrial Engineering; Energy, Systems, Territory, and Construction Engineering; Information Engineering; Mathematics; Clinical and Experimental Medicine; Surgical Medical, Molecular and Critical Area Pathology; Translational Research and of New Surgical and Medical Technologies; Agricultural, Food and Agro-Environmental Sciences; Geosciences; Political Sciences; Veterinary Sciences.
- 60 undergraduate programmes and 71 graduate programmes, each leading to a specific Laurea degree within a given Department.
- 19 doctoral programmes.
- 68 third cycle specialisation programmes.
- More than 100 special shorter programmes, including an MBA.
Size of the University
Students ca. 52000
Teaching and research staff ca. 1552
Technical staff and administrative ca. 1467
History of the University of Pisa
From the year 1000 on, Pisa's cultural vitality in the Middle Ages is attested by its relationships with the Islamic and Byzantine worlds and by the emergence of personalities of the level of Buscheto, Burgundio and Leonardo Fibonacci. The University of Pisa was officially founded in 1334 by a Papal edict, although there had long been teachers in the city. The Faculties first founded were Theology, Civil and Canon Law and Medicine.
The life of the University has always been closely linked to that of the city. In the Fifteenth Century, for instance, when Florence subjugated Pisa, the University underwent a period of decline. The advent of Lorenzo de'Medici witnessed a revival of interest, but Pisa's subsequent rebellion in 1494, war with Florence and the siege of 1509 stripped the University of all its resources.
Only under the Grand Duke Cosimo I did the University, restored and reorganised, finally attain its status as one of the pre-eminent cultural and teaching centres in Europe, a position it held for at least the following century: many of the greatest minds of the time worked alongside the universally renowned figure of Galileo Galilei. During this period, the botanist Luca Ghini established what are now among the world's oldest botanical gardens (a distinction Pisa shares with Padua).
After the splendid progress of these years, the University underwent a few decades of relative quiescence, and then, in the second half of the Eighteenth Century, there was a revival of interest on the part of the new Hapsburg-Lorraine Grand Dukes, who expanded the University's libraries and museums, created an Observatory, instituted Chairs in Physics and Chemistry, and reestablished the previously suspended teaching of Surgery.
The subsequent Napoleonic period saw the further addition of new Chairs, and the foundation of the Scuola Normale Superiore.
The early 1800s also witnessed the birth of the new Faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine,
In 1848, a battalion of University volunteers took part in the battle of Curtatone. This episode of the Austro-Hungarian war lies at the origin of the traditional "goliardi", or caps with the peak cut off, worn by the University students.
The University has continued to maintain a high reputation in the world of studies, and boasts two Nobel prize winners, Fermi and Rubbia, among its former students.
In the sixties a new university institution, the Scuola Superiore di Studi "Sant'Anna", was established, and during the same period the University strengthened its ties with the National Research Council (CNR), whose Pisa branch is one of the nation's most important.
The years of student unrest, in the late sixties and early seventies, which so deeply affected the universities and societies of many countries of the world, saw a clear confirmation of the vitality and the spirit of renewal of the University population of Pisa.
Since 1984, Pisa has been able to run the only university-run Conference Hall in Italy. The students -- nearly forty thousand strong in a city of only one hundred thousand inhabitants, are drawn to Pisa, not only from the nearby Tuscan and Ligurian coasts, but from many other regions as well, especially the south of Italy. A growing number arrive from other European, American, African and Asiatic nations as too.
Since medieval times, when the bells in the tower near the Sapienza building rang out when classes started in the early morning, the academic world has been a vital part of city life.
A short history of Pisa
Pisa is one of Italy's oldest cities. Its origins go back nearly 3000 years. Etruscan remains can be dated to the VI century B.C., and the town was a frequent port of call for Greek ships. From early times, the life of the city, set at the crossroads of important trading routes, was closely linked to the sea. In Roman times, it was a municipium and a colony, offering a strategic port for Roman fleets. After the year 1000, Pisan ships again began to sail the Mediterranean in search of lands to conquer, thus widening the city's sphere of influence and establishing colonies in Corsica, in Sardinia, in Costantinople, in the Holy Land and Egypt as well as on the Black Sea.
The birth of Pisa's remarkable Romanesque architecture and the building of her famous monuments -- the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Camposanto and the Tower -- date back to this period. Pisa was forced to wage long wars against Genoa on the sea and against Lucca and Florence on land. These centuries were nonetheless a time of intense artistic creativity, as is confirmed by numerous architectural masterpieces, the sculptures by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, and paintings by Giunta Pisano, Cimabue and Buffalmacco.
The defeat of the Pisan fleet by Genoa at the battle of Meloria (a shoal just off shore from Livorno) marked the beginning of a period of decline, and in 1406 Pisa was conquered by the Florentines. The town rebelled in 1494, but the long ensuing siege ended in definitive subjugation to Florence.
Pisa slowly recovered from this setback, and only under the Grand Duchy of the Medicis did she again show signs of prosperity. With the growth of the University, the imposing ancient tower houses along the Arno riverbanks were transformed into Florentine Renaissance style palaces as were the former public buildings in Piazza Cavalieri. The following centuries saw the development of Piazza Santa Caterina and the restructuring of the Lungarni. In 1839 the town hosted the First Congress of Italian Scientists and in 1861, it joined the newly-formed Kingdom of Italy.
In the early years of the Twentieth Century, Pisa manifested strong liberal tendencies, which, however, were swept away by the rise of Fascism. The Second World War brought suffering and widescale destruction, particularly as a result of the bombing raid of August 31, 1943, and the division of the town in two by the war front in 1944.
Today, Pisa's economy is dominated chiefly by the service sector. Pisa Airport is one of the most important in Italy, and the road and railway links that converge in the city provide vital links with the entire nation and the rest of Europe.
Characteristics of the Italian University System
Prerequisites and curricula
The secondary school diploma (the "maturità") is granted after 13 years of curricular study.
When the student has obtained the "maturità" he/she can enroll in the University. It is possible to take a First Level Degree (3 year course) and after that a Second Level Degree (2 years course).
After the Laurea it is possible -- in some disciplinary areas -- to earn a "Diploma of specialisation". This takes a minimum of 2 further years.
It is also possible to enter a "Research Doctorate" course: access to the very limited number of posts is by national competition for each subject area. The winners receive support for three years. If successful the candidate becomes a "Doctor of Research", a degree useful only for those who desire to enter the academic career.
Faculties, Courses of Study and Departments
In the Italian University system, Faculties (Facoltà) comprise several Courses of Study (Corsi di Laurea): the latter are frameworks both for the teaching activity of the professors and the learning activity of the students. Professors carry out their scientific research in the Departments (Dipartimenti).
Thus a University professor is a member of a Faculty (for example, that of "Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences"), his/her course of lectures and seminars (for example "Programming Languages") pertains to a Course of Study (for example "Laurea in Computer Science") and his/her scientific research is carried out in a Department (for example, the "Department of Computer Science").
On the other hand, when enrolling, the student chooses a Faculty and a Course of Study within it. To be awarded the final degree -- the Laurea -- the student has to take successfully a fixed number of examinations within the relevant Course of Study (see below, in each Subject Area description), and submit a written dissertation -- the Tesi -- to a Commission of the Faculty.
The Laurea is a state acknowledged degree, of equal validity nationwide no matter which University has awarded it (Pisa, Milan, Rome, Naples etc.), important for access both to public and to private employment.
In practice, Courses of Study and Departments tend to overlap in several areas. Since students can choose a certain number out of the total examinations they must take or may even decide to change Course of Study, the Council of the Course of Study give its approval to their personal study plan. The Council is composed of all the Professors whose courses (of lectures) pertain to the Course of Study, research fellows, and representatives of the students. They elect its President every three years.
The University is located in many separate buildings, some historic and some new, in and around the centre of Pisa.
The academic year is divided into two semesters: winter and spring.
Courses of the winter term start on the last week of September and finish on the second week of December; those of the spring term start on the third week of February and finish by 31/May.
Exams of the winter term are in January and in early February, while those of the spring term take place between 01/June and 25/July.
Each Department publishes its own calendar at the beginning of the academic year.
There are many Libraries, Laboratories and Research Facilities in Pisa. Among the libraries relevant to Erasmus students are the following:
Most Departments have their own specialised libraries. Furthermore, students may take advantage of a number of other important libraries:
Biblioteca universitaria, (600.000 vols.)
Opening hours: winter: 8:30 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.; summer: 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Closed: the week preceding Easter; one week during August. Address: via Curtatone e Montanara, 15. Tel +39 50 42064/24506.
Biblioteca della Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS)
(350.000 vols. spec. in Ancient and Modern Literature, Arts, History, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics). Open only to Professors and students of the SNS itself and to the Faculties of Letters and Philosophy, and Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences. Opening hours: winter: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m.-2 p.m; summer: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Closed: 22 December to 2 January and 10 August to 20 August. Address: Piazza dei Cavalieri. Tel.: +39 50 509111.
Biblioteca della Domus Galileiana
(10.000 vols. spec. in History of Science). Opening hours: 9 a.m. - 12 noon. Closed: 14 August to 16 August. Address: via S. Maria, 26. Tel.: +39 50 23726.
Biblioteca della Domus Mazziniana
(10,000 vols. spec. in Contemporary History and Risorgimento History). Opening hours: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., Saturday: 8 a.m. - 12 noon. Address: via Mazzini, 71. Tel: +39 50 24174.
Other important libraries and archives are to be found in Florence, Lucca and Livorno,within one hour's travel by train or bus. For research facilities see also the Subject Area description in this Package.
Italian as a foreign language is taught at the Interdepartmental Language Centre (Centro Linguistico Interdipartimentale, via S. Maria 42). Courses (for beginners, and for the more advanced) are designed for Erasmus, Lingua, Tempus and ECTS students, free of charge. Courses usually begin on 1 October. Applications should be forwarded through the International Relations Division (http://www.cli.unipi.it).
Lodgings are available at about 250 Euro to 350 Euro a month per person.
Usually students rent a room or a flat, sharing with other students. It is strongly recommended that students conclude arrangements for their accommodations in person.
More details at
Students can also contact Informagiovani (Youth Information Center), Via S. Pellico 6, angolo Via C. Battisti - PISA
Tel.+39 050/40505 - Fax +39 050/40643
The University refectory (Mensa universitaria) is located in via Martiri (Tel. +39 50 599111); opening hours: 12 noon - 2 p.m., 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. every day except Saturday and Sunday evenings.