After a 30 ECTS curricular programme, the PhD course is taught primarily by individual supervision. The curriculum is designed for each students’ specific topic, to provide them with a set of core and advanced courses.

The core course, The Preparation of the Dissertation Project, can include courses in modern methods of analysis, technical art history, and/or art history depending on the background of the student.

In addition, training periods in European or international laboratories are also encouraged. Within the NOVA Doctoral School there is substantial professional training available in transferable skills such as entrepreneurship, self-awareness and teambuilding, which is optional for all PhD students. 

Upon acceptance into the Programme, students meet with their tutors to formalise their curricula. The total number of credits after completion of the PhD degree will be 240 ECTS (four years).


Thirty credits of coursework are required, graded in a scale from 1 to 20, covering the following topics: Preparation of the Dissertation Project (17 ECTS), Research Seminars (3 ECTS), Free Choice (5 ECTS), and Advanced Studies (5 ECTS). The credits are designed to build on students’ previous coursework and to enhance their research capabilities. Courses can be taken both on and off campus to promote a cross-disciplinary focus.

The evaluation of the Preparation of the Dissertation Project is made by the candidate’s advisory committee (AC) and is based on an oral presentation of the research project followed by a discussion with the examiners.

Depending on their background, for this core course, students may also be required to take graduate level courses in Modern Methods of Analysis, Technical Art History and Art History. This ensures that all students are familiar with basic procedures for research design, data handling and analysis needed to conduct dissertation research in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage. 

Research Seminars is a course offered in two contiguous semesters and is composed of seminars to present research in-progress and also includes lectures by invited expert scientists/conservators in relevant fields. The course evaluation is made in combination with The Preparation of the Dissertation Project. 

Free Choice is a 5-credit course selected by the student, which can take place on or off campus or in any other faculty or university. 

Finally, Advanced Studies (5 credits) is offered as a two-week summer course, adjusted to the students’ individual needs. It is an important part of the curricula, in which international and national experts will be asked to coordinate summer workshops in cutting-edge and/or core subjects in conservation. These experts and the subjects will be selected based on relevant topics for the students' projects. And for that reason, they will be organized at the end of the first year or during the second semester.

After the successful completion of the 30 credits of course work, and the acceptance of the dissertation proposal by the advisory committee, the student registers for a minimum of 30 credits of PhD research for each semester (this consists of full time dissertation research).


The dissertation is expected to reflect the results of original and high quality research of significance to the preservation and conservation of cultural property, written in a scholarly manner at a literary standard worthy of publication. Three of the chapters should have been published in appropriate journals. Oral or poster presentations in national and international conferences are also encouraged. 

The faculty at the DCR can evaluate dissertations in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian or English. This wide range of expertise in European languages allows applicants from many countries, greatly enriching the learning environment at the DCR.