Language is widely recognized as part of what makes us human, and we intuitively appreciate its value in communication and in the development of ideas. Transferring language competence to computers is a focus on much recent research, and has turned out to be a challenging task. That is the challenge of Language and Communication Technologies, a dynamic discipline which emerged by joining Linguistics and Computer Science.
Human communication requires fundamental linguistic and cognitive faculties, which may be partly innate and partly acquired from our environment. It involves language, but also, and crucially, our perception and conceptualisation of the world. In this respect, the investigation and modelling of human language is a truly interdisciplinary endeavor. It follows that the methods of language technology must come from several scientific fields: computer science, theoretical and computational linguistics, mathematics, electrical engineering, psychology and neuroscience. Application-wise, it is similarly important to develop intelligent technologies that truly acknowledge the complexity of language, including its multimodal aspects, commonsense knowledge and logical reasoning. The LCT program takes this requirement seriously, giving students foundational knowledge in both cognitive science and computational modelling.
The Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (CIMeC), University of Trento (UniTN), is offering the European Masters Program in Language and Communication Technologies (LCT), as part of an international joint program organized by a consortium of universities.
One of the few such programs in the world, the LCT was designed with input from industry professionals and researchers of cutting edge universities to give students a solid foundation in language and communication technologies so that they will be able to grow and change along with this rapidly developing and exciting discipline.
- 2 year Master's program taught in English: recognized as a program of excellence by the EU Commission (Erasmus Mundus) and running since 2006;
- LCT: an attractive and rapidly-expanding field of computational linguistics and language technologies;
- Erasmus Mundus Scholarships: available for both EU and non-EU students;
- Distributed and joint program: students spend each year in a different institution of the consortium following a joint study plan for a total of 120 ECTS credits;
- Double degree: students completing the program obtain an LCT diploma, plus two degrees legally recognized in each of the countries where the student has studied;
- Job opportunities: graduates of the LCT will bring to businesses, industry and the research world the expertise needed to improve the nexus between humans and machines.
Why study at CIMeC
Our approach to LCT is characterized by a strong interdisciplinary focus: it combines a solid foundation in scientific and cognitive neuroscience methods with an extensive training in computational methods for the statistical analysis of large amounts of language and perceptual data. Theoretical knowledge will be supplemented by the experience acquired in practical projects carried out in research and industry labs. The various CIMeC groups actively involved in the study of language from various perspectives are:
- Brain and Language
- Cognitive Neuroscience of Language
- Computational Approaches to Language and Meaning
- Information and Integration
- Language and Vision
- Linguistics in Cognition
- Neuropsychological deficits in brain damaged patients
Moreover, CIMeC collaborates with research groups in other UniTN Departments, like the Language Speech and Interaction group (LSI) at DISI, and with the Fondazione Bruno Kessler research center (FBK).
CIMeC is located in the beautiful city of Rovereto, surrounded by the Alps and famous for its culture, the quality of life, and the range of outdoors sports and relax opportunities it offers.
UniTN is a dynamic, medium-size University (with about 16.000 students), located in the North East of Italy and centered in Trento. Founded in 1962, it has constantly pursued the improvement of the quality of research and teaching and the strengthening of its international dimension, networking with qualified universities and research centres from all over the world, making its campuses international and encouraging the presence in Trento of foreign visiting professors, researchers and students from all over the world. The strong commitment in international research and mobility projects have boosted its attractiveness and position in both national and international rankings. It is the top-ranked medium-size University in Italy for the quality of its teaching according to both Italian (Censis, II Sole 24Ore) and international (THES) rankings, and the most successful university in Italy in attracting EU research funding. The City of Trento has been ranked as offering the highest quality of life in Italy in a 2019 analysis of 110 Italian cities.
Within the Master's course in Cognitive Science (Laurea Magistrale in Scienze Cognitive), UniTN offers the Language and Multimodal Interaction track (LMI). The particular strength of this track, which distinguishes it from those offered by the other partners of the LCT, is the chance to study topics in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging while acquiring a solid theoretical and computational background in foundational and cutting-edge LCT topics, like Computational Semantics and Language and Vision integration, with methods that span symbolic approaches, theory-driven language modeling and deep learning. Theoretical knowledge will be supplemented by the experience acquired in substantial practical projects carried out in research and industry labs.
Who should apply for Trento?
Students applying for Trento should have an interest in human cognition, in particular the core human faculties to perceive the world with vision and communicate about it via natural language, and they should be curious about interdisciplinary topics at the boundary of computer and cognitive neuro-science and their uses in advanced intelligent applications. First year students who lack a computer science background are offered an introductory course to acquire basic programming skills For students applying to study in Trento for their second year, preference will be given to those with a solid background in computer science, ideally including good programming skills, knowledge of algorithms and optimization techniques, basic math and statistics.
Courses and study plan
Students will have to agree on their individual study program with their LCT local contact; courses will be assigned on the base of the students interest and the partner university where they study.
The study plan will be entered in Esse3 by the admin.
For more information about the courses held at UniTN:
Educational Offer, Academic Year 2020-2021;
Academic Calendar, Academic Year 2021-2021;
Schedule of lessons (by degree, by teacher, by course), Academic Year 2020-2021;
Teaching activities (please select CIMeC from the drop-down menu), Academic Year 2020-2021;
Exams calendar (by degree, by teacher, by course), Academic Year 2020-2021;
Exams and Graduation
The grading system used in Italian Universities follows a 18-30 scale, with 18 being the minimum and 30 the maximum. Marks lower than 18 mean “exam failed”. Honours mention is expressed with a “30 e lode” (cum laude).
The exams taken by students at the Partner University will be entered in Esse3 by the UniTn admin after grades conversion.
If you want to check how marks are converted by the Universities belonging to the Consortium, please see this table.
LCT students who attend their second year at UniTn must successfully complete all the educational activities required (exams and internship) and pass the Degree Examination (for a total amount of 120 credits) to obtain the Master's degree.
The Degree Examination consists of the presentation and defense of an original thesis in English, which is prepared by the student under the guidance of a Supervisor chosen among UniTn professors and researchers, or teaching professors of the degree course. Students have the possibility of carrying out their Thesis research project (30 ECTS) at UniTrento or in another research institution.
LCT students who attend their first year at UniTn will defend their thesis at the partner university following its graduation rules. Furthermore, they need to respect all the steps of the UniTN procedure to obtain the UniTn Master's degree. They need to have an UniTn Supervisor who, after consultation with the partner Supervisor, will submit to the UniTn Degree Examination Committee their evaluation form. The Examination Committee will assign the grade without the students defending the thesis in person.
There are several dates throughout the year at which a student may choose to graduate. These dates are known as degree sessions. It is the responsibility of the student to submit the necessary paperwork in order to graduate at the date they chose.
The final graduation mark is given on the basis of a 110-point scale. It is calculated with a specific formula and is determined by:
- The average of exam grades
- An additional score (up to 4 or 10 points, according to the type of thesis) which is proposed to the Examination Commitee by the UniTn supervisor in agreement with the partner University supervisor. The Examination Commitee, after the thesis defense, can decide whether assign all the points proposed by the supervisor or just some of them.
Info for prospective LCT @UniTn students: Practical Information
- Application procedure and deadlines
- Program fees
- Living expenses in Trento
- Further UniTrento services