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The University of Southampton

PHIL3053 Islamic Philosophy

Module Overview

There is a rich and often overlooked tradition of Islamic philosophy, or 'falsafa'. This module focuses on the classical period of the Islamic Golden Age, from Al-Kindi, via Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna), to Ibn Rushd (also known as Averroes). The classical Islamic tradition played a central role in transmitting and transforming philosophical thought from the Ancient Greeks to the Early Moderns. Many distinctions familiar from the Early Modern tradition and not clearly present in Ancient Greek philosophy first started to take shape during this period, and Islamic philosophers made important contributions to topics such as the relation between the mind and the body, the distinction between essence and existence, arguments for the existence of God and concerning God’s nature, the metaphysical modalities of possibility, contingency, and necessity, and the nature of logic, science, religion, ethics, and philosophy itself. The aim of this module is to introduce some of the central views and arguments of classical Islamic philosophy and to explore and critically assess them in light of recent philosophical commentary.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the central concepts and arguments of classical Islamic philosophy.
  • the significance of classical Islamic philosophy in the history of philosophy and its relevance to contemporary issues.
  • objections to the views and arguments put forward by key Islamic philosophers and possible answers to them.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate critically the views and arguments of classical Islamic philosophy in light of recent commentary.
  • relate the issues the module concerns to issues in other areas of philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and philosophy of mind.
  • articulate and defend your own views concerning the issues discussed in classical Islamic philosophy.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • scrutinise complex texts and extract from them key information.
  • demonstrate enhanced skills in essay writing, planning and research.


The syllabus may vary from year to year. Topics may include: - Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Al-Gazali, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) - essence and existence - possibility and necessity - arguments for the existence of God and the divine attributes - the nature of philosophy

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures - In-class discussion - One-on-one consultation with module co-ordinator Learning activities include - Attending classes - Contribution to class discussion - Doing independent research for and writing assessed work

Independent Study117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Peter Adamson (2016). Philosophy in the Islamic World. 

Jon McGinnis (2010). Avicenna. 

Peter Adamson; Richard Taylor (2005). The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy. 

Anthony Robert Booth (2017). Analytic Islamic Philosophy. 

J. McGinnis & D. Reisman (2007). Classical Arabic Philosophy: An Anthology of Sources. 

Khaled El-Rouayheb; Sabine Schmidtke (2016). The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 50%
Examination  (1.5 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


There are no costs attached to this module

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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