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The University of Southampton

PHIL6061 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 typically 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

Completion of assessment task40
Follow-up work20
Wider reading or practice25
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Jon McGinnis (2010).  Avicenna. 

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

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

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


Assessment Strategy

For MA students taking this module, expectations will be significantly higher than those for year 3 undergraduate students attending the same lectures, and the assessment criteria will accordingly by stricter. In particular students will be required to demonstrate extremely high levels of detailed and accurate exposition, critical engagement, organisation and presentation, with scholarship that draws on appropriate primary literature.


Business case or Essay plan


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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