PP3MED-Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Mediaeval Philosophy

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Luke Elson

Email: luke.elson@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module introduces students to mediaeval philosophy (roughly, the period from 500 to 1500 AD). We will pick one philosophical topic (such as moral obligation, or God’s existence, the problem of universals, or the motion of projectiles) and look at what some major thinkers of the period had to say about it. We will read thinkers from at least two of the three religious traditions (Christian, Islamic, and Jewish).


The programme of study in Philosophy is specifically designed to introduce you to progressive intellectual challenges and to consolidate your previous experience at each new level. This module fits into our graduated, supervised programme for developing independent-learning skills. It builds on our Part 2 provision, in particular by: introducing you to some historical thoughts on still-relevant issues. You will see how many of the topics you’ve considered in your earlier modules were dealt with in a quite different intellectual environment. You’ll use the skills you have developed (such as reading dense and difficult philosophical argumentation) to understand and assess the arguments of mediaeval philosophers.

Assessable learning outcomes:

To read and understand the different positions in a mediaeval philosophical dispute.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, you will be able to read some difficult and abstract works of mediaeval philosophy. The material is dense and so close and regular reading of the assigned texts will be essential. You will be able to explain how the thinkers we have studied differ on a particular topic, and what their arguments are. Your oral skills especially will be improved by an interpretive presentation of a text.

Additional outcomes:

You will gain an appreciation of some of the general historical sweep of mediaeval philosophy, and why it developed in the way it did. You will gain some appreciation of the ways in which the mediaevals did philosophy is in some ways very different to, but also recognisably in the same tradition as, contemporary analytic philosophy. You will also gain an insight into an intellectual world that is arguably more cosmopolitan than our own.

Outline content:

The module begins with an introduction to the philosophical issue in question, in modern terms. We then move on to consider what the thinkers we consider had to say about it. For almost every class session there will be assigned reading, which will be the focus of that meeting.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught by lectures and seminars. Since it is a course in the history of philosophy, close and active reading of the assigned texts is crucial.

Students are expected to attend 10 hours of lectures and 5 hours of seminars during the term in which the module’s lecture and seminar classes take place. All students are required to write a single essay from a list of questions supplied by the module convenor. The essay assignment will be due in week 5 of the Summer term.

In addition, students will be required to write a short précis of the topic or reading for discussion in each seminar class. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others. A reading list and sample questions will be given out at the start of the course.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 5
Guided independent study 85
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:


Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One written assignment, due in week 11 of the term in which the module is taught.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Written assignment, to be completed in August/September. 

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 26 April 2018


    Things to do now