Medieval philosophy encompasses approximately 1000 years of philosophical thinking from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century to the Renaissance in the sixteenth century. This course will explore the major philosophical traditions that flourished and dominated the philosophical landscape in the said period in the regions of the Latin West, Roman Byzantine territories, and societies where Islam was dominant. We will concentrate on the major philosophical areas take up in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions.
This course aims to give students an introductory understanding and grasp of central themes, key texts, and major philosophers of the medieval philosophical traditions, namely Arabic, Latin, and Jewish philosophies.
Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:
the three major philosophical traditions in medieval times, and the main arguments and key concepts that define these traditions;
the key primary texts that dominated and went on to influence centuries of Arabic, Latin, and Jewish philosophical thinking, from the early medieval period right up to the present day; students will also have a good understanding of such topics as metaphysical proofs for and against the existence of God, debates on the nature of evil, the human soul, limits of human knowledge, moral theory and human virtues, the use of logic in philosophical theology, and the nature of philosophy and its relationship to religion.
Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:
critically analyse primary texts across a range of philosophical topics in medieval philosophy;
formulate philosophical reflections and articulate well-reasoned positions on the questions covered in the course in writing, and in-class discussions.
The timetables are available through MyTimetable.
Mode of instruction
Class attendance is required.
Weekly essays (20%)
Midterm in-class sit-down examination with essay questions (40%)
Final in-class sit-down examination with essay questions (40%)
Failure to submit weekly essays in class will disqualify students from sitting the exams.
The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the midterm and final examinations and the weekly essays (see above).
The resit consists of a written exam, covering the entirety of the course material. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for partial examinations (80%).
The grade for the weekly essays remains in place. Satisfactory completion of the weekly essays is a prerequisite for taking the resit.
Inspection and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.
- A. S. McGrade (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Philosophy (Cambridge, 2003) [CMP]
Most of our readings will draw from primary materials in translation. In our secondary readings, we will draw on the textbook above, which is available gratis online through the University Library website. Readings of primary texts in translation will be handed out the week before class.
Please read the assigned materials before the week they are assigned, and come to class prepared. Guiding questions to the week’s readings will be posted on Brightspace the week before class.
Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange
Information for those interested in taking this course in context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.
Information for those interested in taking this course in context of Contract teaching (with taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.
For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga