First doctoral student of the joint PhD program

The Faculty of Law of MSSES is recruiting students for a joint Ph.D. program with one of the oldest European university — the University of Turin in Italy.

Known for its outstanding graduates-such as Umberto Eco, Antonio Gramsci, Italo Calvino and Gaetano Mosca-the university has been training specialists in various types of law almost since its foundation in 1436. Today, the specialists who largely define European civil, environmental, comparative, and commercial law teaсh here.

We talked to one of the first doctoral students of the joint program with the University of Turin - a graduate of the MSSES Master's Degree program, Rimma Chichakian - about what it's like to write a doctoral thesis under the guidance of the famous Ugo Mattei, how training in the Italian law graduate school works, and why the thirst for knowledge doesn`t need diplomas.

I graduated from the law school of the South Ural State University in Chelyabinsk with a degree in Civil Law and entered the MGIMO Master's program in Corporate Law and International Transaction Support. After a year at MGIMO, I felt that something was missing in my training, and I decided to enroll in the MSSES Law Master's program.

Back in my bachelor's degree at South Ural State University, I read a lot of articles, textbooks, and books by those who later taught at my law faculty at MSSES — these names were always heard of. The textbook on Roman law by Dmitry Dozhdev is where you start learning civil law in the first year. Canon!

Plus, I've heard a lot about the teaching methods at MSSES — the subjects you choose for yourself, academic writing, the essay system. I remember that at the very first lesson we were told that we hadn`t been taught to write since school. An essay at MSSES is practically a scientific article. Considering how many of them you write during your training, it was quite unusual. But the ability to write scientific texts is a very good skill that is being developed here. It`s absolutely necessary if you are focused on academic work.

Here I graduated from Commercial Law, but in the course of training I picked up a lot of different subjects, regardless of the program. It was hard, of course, to take a double session at MGIMO and at MSSES — I think I wrote 11 essays in one session, plus languages, plus State exams. But that was ok, everything worked out, and I got diplomas with honors.

When I was studying at the Faculty of Law of the Moscow State University of Economics, people didn`t go to the University of Manchester for internships so actively. I went on my own. I was sitting there during lasses, studying in the library. No one there will kick you out because you're not on the list-British universities are open: if you're interested, you can sit and listen.

In general, I have been to many foreign universities, let's say, unofficially. I believe that there are no boundaries — if you don`t have a diploma, it doesn`t mean that you can`t come to listen to what you are interested in. It is not necessary that everything is written on a piece of paper. In my experience of studying in different universities, we can definitely say that MSSES has a strong faculty of law — with such a composition of teachers and the knowledge that they give.

Admission to the University of Turin

After two master's degrees, I already had a rough idea of what I would like to write a doctoral thesis about. I asked Dmitry Vadimovich for advice — he suggested trying to introduce me to the University of Turin and, in particular, to Ugo Mattei, a professor of civil law at the University of Turin. He is one of the most respected lawyers in the world — at the university, he is the official successor of Rodolfo Sacco, one of the founding fathers of the Italian School of Comparative Law, former president of the International Association of Legal Sciences.

Ugo Mattei teaches at many world universities - Yale, Cambridge, and Californian -and is the editor-in-chief of the Cambridge University Press series of books on European private law. He is widely known in civil circles as the man who laid the foundations of modern European property law. And now he is also my supervisor, along with Dmitry Dozhdev.

This is generally one of the main conditions for admission to the program: the professorship at the University of Turin should like the topic of your dissertation. I don`t want to advertise my own yet — I want to be the first in this topic.

As far as I know, no one from MSSES entered the Turin doctoral program at the same time as me. But there are also a few guys from other countries there, for the same reason: the topic of the doctoral program should be quite serious. Plus, the demand for postgraduate studies is always less — this is an academic trajectory. I just want to do science and teach-I love it. And, of course, I am interested in my topic, I want to delve into it. For me, it was something unreal, to get to Ugo Mattei and write a doctorate.

How does the Ph.D. program at the University of Turin work?

The Faculty of Law at the University of Turin is generally known for its civil law topics. There are very few seminars in the Italian doctoral program — much more of what they call hearings. This is when you imagine what you have managed to do over a certain period of time: publications, speeches at conferences, etc.

Plus, rich communication with your supervisor of course. I know that my supervisor has a very busy schedule, but he devotes 2-3 hours a week to our discussions, directs me. For example, he may say: "You need to talk to this person about this part of your dissertation, he is an expert in this." You go to the expert, talk, then reflect on the new information and write.

Of course, there is no such thing that you will be obliged to go to any classes — all work is based on self-discipline. I just chose for myself what I think would be useful — to attend these classes or to complete such and such a course. Plus, the giant library of the University of Turin is a godsend for a person writing a dissertation.

Since I already know modern languages, and Italian is my third language, I decided to take ancient Greek in Turin. I took Roman law because to be in Italy and not study Roman law is nonsense. I took the philosophy of law. Italian civil law and Comparative civil law. Banking law. International transactions. Arbitration, court disputes.

I won't say that I need all these subjects to write my doctorate. I need them for the general background — I'm just interested.

95% of the subjects are read in Italian. But this is natural. Roman law in English..? Well, at least I didn't see it in the schedule. Or, for example, Rodolfo Sacco is a man of global stature, but he doesn`t speak English: you need to listen to such people in their language.

I visit Russia when the obligations that concern me as a doctoral student require it: when I need to visit some classes or solve some organizational issues.

There is no sense to be in Italy now— universities are closed, it is impossible to get to the library. At the same time, the educational process doesn`t stop — some classes now go in a remote form, the university can also conduct exams.

I`ve learned to feel comfortable living in 2 countries for 2 years in doctoral studies. The main indicator of this is that both in Turin and in Moscow I have a workshop where I draw. If I have such a place somewhere, it means that I am already quite comfortable there.

Conditions for admission to the joint doctoral program of MSSES and the University of Turin

For admission to the Ph.D. program of MSSES and the University of Turin, you need to provide an abstract with a work plan for a doctoral dissertation in English.

First, the abstract is considered by the Faculty of Law of MSSES, and then by professors of the University of Turin. Provided that both commissions approve the applicant's admission to a joint doctoral program, they are enrolled in the training programs of both universities.

During the work on the dissertation, the doctoral student will have two scientific supervisors — from the side of MSSES and the University of Turin. And at the end of the work and the defense of the dissertation, they are simultaneously awarded the title of Ph.D. of MSSES and the University of Turin.

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