About the Doctoral School in Theoretical Foundations and Theory-Building

The Doctoral School in Socio-Cultural Approaches in Business Studies: Theoretical Foundations and Theory-Building is organised by the Institute for Marketing and Communication Management, Università della Svizzera italiana. It offers four termly foundational courses, each focusing on one key theoretical approach, providing in-depth knowledge of the approach. These courses will be based on readings featuring the approach's key founding texts and influential domain-specific texts that show how a specific theoretical approach has been applied and used in marketing and organisation studies. In addition, a one-week immersive workshop organised within the Summer School of Social Sciences Methods will provide practical teaching on how to improve the theoretical contribution in PhD and early career scholars' papers.

Participants are PhD students and junior researchers from Switzerland and other countries working within the wider management discipline, including those focused on consumer culture, marketing, and organisation studies.

All courses are offered on a stand-alone basis, so you can customise your learning journey by choosing the courses most relevant to your research interests. However, participation in all four foundational courses and the theory-building workshop will provide an unparalleled level of depth and expertise in socio-cultural approaches and theory-building skills.

Instructors are renowned specialists and experienced and enthusiastic teachers in their respective fields. They organise their courses to optimise opportunities for practical help and advice for participants.

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  • Who can attend?

    This programme is ideal for PhD students working in qualitative research areas of marketing and organisation studies. The course is organised in the logic of a doctoral course, providing opportunities to grasp and discuss the key discourses and sensitising distinctions of a specific theoretical approach and/or research domain. It is also open to PostDocs who can benefit from such a foundational course.

    Places for USI PhD and junior researchers are limited to seven.

  • Teaching language

    The language in all workshops and lectures will be English; therefore, active and passive command of English is expected.

  • Location

    The Doctoral School is located at the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), Lugano Campus (within walking distance from Lugano train station and city centre).

  • Fees

    The Doctoral School is funded through participant’s fees. There are two levels of fees*:

    • Student fee: 700 Swiss Francs per course for students (requires proof of enrollment in a PhD programme).
    • Non-student fee: 1100 Swiss Francs per weekly workshop for all others.

    Expand your knowledge and skills by enrolling in multiple visiting doctoral courses offered by our doctoral school and benefit from an exclusive discount:

    After completing each course, you'll receive a CHF 100 voucher to use towards your next course registration! If you register for all 5, you will gain a comprehensive knowledge and benefit from a total of CHF400 discount!


    USI PhD students and junior researchers:

    • USI students: the fee is covered by USI. As places are limited, however, late cancellations (less than six weeks before the start of the course) or non-attendance will result in the student/researcher being responsible for the full course fee.



    With the Online payment, you will receive a confirmation by e-mail as soon as you complete the payment.

    If you pay by bank transfer, you will receive an invoice via e-mail (within two weeks from the date of registration).

    Important: Your registration is conditional until the fee has been fully paid. Your payment is due within 30 days of receiving the invoice. If you don't complete the payment within this time, your application will be cancelled, and your place will be offered to the first person on the waiting list.


    Reduced Fee

    To qualify for the reduced fee, you must send a copy of an official document that certifies your current student status or a letter from your supervisor stating your actual position as a doctoral or postdoctoral researcher. Please e-mail this letter/document to [email protected]

  • How to register?

    Register by filling-in the on-line registration form. Registration is conditional until you have paid the Doctoral School fees (within 30 days of invoice receipt).

    If you applied for the reduced (student) fee, a copy of an official document stating your student status is required to complete your registration. Registration is on a first-come-first-serve basis.


    Limited number of places: To guarantee optimal learning conditions, the number of available places per course is limited to 21. The number of places for USI students and researchers is limited to 7.

    Registrants beyond the maximum number of participants will be placed on a waiting list and informed as soon as a place becomes available. If the waiting list grows too long, registration for that workshop will be closed.

    Minimum number of participantsCourses may be cancelled if there are not enough confirmed participants (fewer than 10) 4 weeks before the course start date. If this happens, participants will be notified by e-mail, and the paid fees will be reimbursed.

    Registration deadline

    Registration will open approximately five months before the start of the next course and will close as soon as the course is full, no later than three weeks before the starting date. 

    Please consider the following:

    1. The number of participants per course is limited - please register as early as possible.
    2. Course fees must be paid in advance, and registration is final only after payment is received.
    3. Affordably priced accommodation is difficult to find at the very last minute.
  • Certificate of participation

    Upon successful completion of a course, you will receive a Certificate of Participation via email, attesting to the participant's active presence during the course. Partial presence will be noted on the Certificate. Unfortunately, no certificate will be awarded to participants who have attended a workshop for less than 50% or who have not submitted the assignments (as requested by the instructor). 

  • ECTS credits

    If you consider using the Doctoral School courses to obtain credits (ECTS), you will have to investigate at your home institution to find out whether they recognise the Doctoral School, how many credits can be earned for a workshop/course with roughly 28 hours of teaching, reading required between the sessions/modules, and completion of assessments set by the instructors.

    We only deliver a Certificate of Participation, which certifies your presence. If this is important to you, make sure to investigate this matter before registering.


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