Learning Experience

Program and Fees

The student’s experience will be in three main axis of activities:


Hands-on construction is the backbone of the Building Beauty. Students engage in direct construction from the first to the last day of the program. In the first semester they study and map the monastery‘s historical building techniques, ornament and materials, to then engage in a full-scale in-lab reconstruction of some elements of it, for example a wall, a vault, an arch, a window frame, or a combination of those. In the second semester, students work in the “Camellias courtyard”, an open space located right in the heart of the monastery, the program’s “home”; here they design and build a project for the regeneration of the courtyard and the adjacent service buildings. Finally, as an integral part of their construction experience, students cultivate the land in the historical gardens of the monastery, in collaboration with UniSOB’s established Research Laboratories of Mediterranean diet and Botanic.


Seminars follow a “cenacolo” (“dinner circle”) format: world leading scholars and professionals from a range of different areas of science and arts come and first work with the students in the building site; then they reflect on what building means from their own point of view, and finally sit and share dinner with students, staff and external visitors in one of the marvellous monastery’s indoor halls or outdoor terraces (depending on the weather). The aim is to create a relaxed and informal atmosphere that allows guest staff and students to exchange ideas and feelings in the most appropriate way, and to inform networking at a deeper level.


A series of workshops aimed at raising our awareness of our own individual and collective feelings. Feelings will be explored in relation to space, the body-mind, and the way they interact in the hands-on physical work of making artefacts. This line of activity is meant to provide the knowledge required to observe, understand and act within a complex system where elements have both individual and interrelated value, and where observation, understanding and action are related to our experience of such elements and their interrelation. Feelings are the gateway that connect our deep self to the external world: learning to name and recognize them, trust them, and live with them, is crucial to our ability to work with others and with the structure of the land.

Finally, two major events will conclude the program:

  • In the “Theory of Beauty Conference” students discuss their experience with world leaders from academia as well as the profession in an international and interdisciplinary conference.
  • In the “Cisternino Summer School”, a two-weeks residential stage in an old “masseria” (country house) close to the village of Cisternino in Puglia, students will learn from a local master-builder the construction technique of the traditional “trulli” houses.
Entitlement To Apply
The course is open to individuals holding a Laurea (Bachelor) or equivalent experience in architecture or indeed any other area of knowledge in Science, Humanities and the Arts.
The course is accredited by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR). It offers 60 credits (or European Credits Transfer System), equivalent to 120 UK/USA credits, over 24 teaching weeks running from mid October to end of May.
Tuition Fees and Accommodation
Tuition fees are as follows: EU students: €10,000; Extra-EU students: €16,300
UniSOB offers five to ten placements in the University dorms close to the Benincasa Monastery at €250-300/month, including services and cleaning. Similar rates apply to privately rented accommodations of decent level in the university area.
Learning Structure

Credits By Taught Modules and Classes

Typical Study Week By Semester

Summer School and Conference
The Program includes a Summer School in an ancient “masseria” (“country house”) in Cisternino (Puglia), where students learn the traditional “trulli” construction technique from an experienced local master-builder.The Summer School is the final event fo the program, an intensive building experirence as much as a celebration of one year of achievements and intense life. A joyful farewell to Building Beauty.