ISC204 – Islamic Philosophy


Over the course of this module, students will see the importance of metaphysics as a cornerstone of the Islamic sciences, and how our answers metaphysical questions ultimately impact discussions in other fields, such as theology, ethics, and mysticism. This module will also tie basic concepts and current issues to classical debates in the history of Islamic philosophy.

Topics covered include:

  • Existence and quiddity.
  • Modalities of existence.
  • Existence in-the-world versus existence in-the-mind.
  • Essence and accident.
  • Universals and particulars.
  • Aristotelian categories.
  • Causality.
  • Potentiality and actuality.
  • Unity and multiplicity.
  • Philosophical theology.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this module, a successful student will be able to:

  • Evaluate the basic ideas and terms invoked in contemporary Islamic metaphysics. (A4, A8)
  • Debate the main points of controversy and debates within contemporary Islamic metaphysics. (A1)
  • Describe judgements about competing views in metaphysical debates.(A4, B1)

This module will require a successful student to:

  • Discuss ideas at different levels of abstraction, to develop logical and well-thought-out arguments, and to critically assess the views of others. (B4, B5, C2-C4, D2-D4)

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

In addition to attending lectures, students are expected to augment their learning through research and preparation leading to a research-based essay. Seminars are used to debate and explore specific issues while the use of questioning and small group work in class ensures that students are constantly engaged and take an active role in the learning process. Furthermore, the module will involve a systematic study of a modern work on metaphysics, and students are encouraged to critically examine the text and carry out further research on the topics it deals with, as well as engaging in independent study circles to discuss it with their classmates and enhance their understanding and retention of its contents and arguments.

Assessment strategy

Formative Assessment
Participation in debates on a question around topics covered within class provides students the basis formative assessment, whereby students will be expected to present the case for or against a particular position and the quality of their argument be judged by peers. The module leader will regularly give feedback to student regarding the progress of their coursework, a draft copy of the completed coursework need be handed in to the module leader before the 10th learning week as part of the formative learning process. Additionally, revision sessions are arranged that will cover topics in preparation for exams, providing constructive formative feedback to students.

Summative Assessment
Summative, graded assessment is by coursework and written examination. The coursework will require students to write an essay of 3,000 words that demonstrates a critical understanding of one of the main topics covered in class (Outcome 4). A 2-hour written examination will take place at the end of the semester. (Outcomes 1, 2, 3).

Assessment weighting
Coursework: 40%
Written examination: 60%

Learning Materials

Core readings

  • Tabataba’i, S. M. H. (2003). The Elements of Islamic Metaphysics. Qara’i trans., London: ICAS Press.
  • Misbah Yazdi, M.T. (1999). Philosophical Instructions: An Introduction to Contempoary Islamic Philosophy. Binghamton: Global Publications.
  • Ubodiyat, A. (2000). An Introduction to Islamic Philosophy. F. Asadi & M. Dasht Bozorgi trans., Qum: The International Organisation of Seminaries and Islamic Schools.