Islamic Philosophy

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Religions and Philosophies

Module overview

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the main traditions of philosophy and systematic theology in the pre-modern islamic world and of their historical development
  • demonstrate familiarity with relevant primary sources in translation
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of key theories, problems and debates of Islamic philosophy
  • demonstrate the ability to examine, contextualise and interpret historic materials
  • demonstrate the ability to evaluate critically scholarly interpretations of pre modern Islamic philosophy


This course is taught over 10 weeks with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

This module focuses on aspects of the intellectual history of the medieval Islamic world, above all the history of philosophy and systematic theology. It will examine various thinkers and schools of thought of the classical and post-classical periods, including Aristotelianism, Mu‘tazilism and Ash‘arism, and will introduce key concepts, problems and debates, particularly in metaphysics, natural philosophy, epistemology, ethics and anthropology. These topics will be approached analytically, situated and interpreted within their broader contexts, and read through representative primary texts in translation. Attention will be given to contemporary scholarly methodologies and debates in the field.

Method of assessment

  • One essay plan of 750 words, worth 20%
  • One essay of 3,000 words, worth 80%


James Caron

Suggested reading

  • Adamson, P., and R. Taylor (eds). The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • El-Rouayheb, K., and S. Schmidtke (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Gutas, D. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.
  • Nagel, T. The History of Islamic Theology. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
  • Schmidtke, S. (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Taylor, R., and L. López-Farjeat (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Islamic Philosophy. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.
  • Winter, T. (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules