Islam and the Making of Medieval Europe, c.600-1300

Module titleIslam and the Making of Medieval Europe, c.600-1300
Module codeHIH2200A
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Alun Williams (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module we will explore the relationship between the Christian and Muslim worlds in Medieval Europe from the beginnings of the Islamic movement in the early seventh century down to the end of the thirteenth. Besides seeking to understand the hostility and outright conflict that periodically flared up between the two religious communities during this period, most notably in the era of the Crusades, we will also try to make sense of the extensive social, economic and cultural interaction that took place between them. Particular attention will be paid to the contribution of Islam to the development of western civilisation, for example in the areas of commerce, science and culture. By exploring the complex reality of Christian-Muslim relations in the medieval past, the module will also help to put modern tensions between the Islamic world and the West into better perspective.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  • You will need effective communication and analytical skills, oral and written, to complete many of your modules and in a job after you graduate
  • Develop your skills in researching, interpreting, and analysing both primary and secondary material, and in reporting on your work
  • Explore an area of history in more depth, and helps you to develop the depth of understanding you will require to study more specialised areas of history
  • It will also give you an opportunity to work in a team on a group presentation

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Develop a broad knowledge of main political, social, economic and cultural developments in the history of relations between the Christian and Muslim worlds between the seventh and thirteenth centuries
  • 2. Understand a number the key historiographical debates in the field
  • 3. Evaluate and examine a range of primary sources that shed light on the history of relations between the Christian and Muslim worlds

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Analyse the key developments of the period
  • 5. Collate data from a range of sources, both primary and secondary
  • 6. Interpret primary sources
  • 7. Trace long-term as well as short-term historical developments
  • 8. Recognise and deploy historical terminology correctly
  • 9. Assess different approaches to historical writing in areas of controversy

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Work both independently and in a group, including participating in oral seminar discussions
  • 11. Identify a topic, select, comprehend, and organise primary and secondary materials on that topic with little guidance
  • 12. Produce to a deadline and in examination conditions a coherent argument

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The Islamic Movement: Origins and Expansion
  • Western Christian Responses to Islam
  • ‘People of the Book’: Christians and Jews under Muslim Rule
  • Crossing the Frontier between the Christian and Islamic worlds
  • Economic contacts: the Pirenne Thesis revisited
  • The Crusades (I): Origins and Development
  • The Crusades (II): Broadening Horizons
  • The Muslim in the Ideologies of Christian Europe: Text, Image and Stone
  • 'Those that Remain': Muslims under Christian Rule in Iberia, Sicily and the Holy Land
  • The Missionary Strategy: Franciscans and Dominicans
  • The Transfer of Knowledge
  • Sex and Power
  • Understanding Christian-Muslim relations: the legacy of the Middle Ages

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and teaching22 Seminars; these will be led by the tutor. You will need to prepare for each seminar and present on a given topic in groups of 4 on 4 occasions
Guided Independent Study22Web-based activities located on ELE – preparation for seminars and presentations
Guided Independent Study234 Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan x 1500 words1-12Oral and written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay303000 words1-12Oral and written
Group Presentation2025 minutes1-11Oral and written
Unseen Examination502 questions in 2 hours1-12Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (3000 Words)1-12Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination (2 questions in 2 hours)1-12Referral/Deferral period
Group presentation1500 script as for individual presentation, equivalent to 10 minutes1-12Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • B A Catlos, Infidel Kings and Unholy Warriors. Faith, Power, and Violence in the Age of Crusade and Jihad (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014)
  • N Daniel, Islam and the West: The making of an image (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960)
  • N Daniel, The Arabs and Mediaeval Europe (London: Longman, 1975)
  • R Fletcher, Moorish Spain (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1992)
  • R Fletcher, The Cross and the Crescent: Christianity and Islam from Muhammad to the Reformation (London: Allen Lane, 2003)
  • C Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999)
  • B Lewis, The Arabs in History (6 th edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)
  • J Riley-Smith, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)
  • J Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History (London: The Athlone Press, 1990)
  • R W Southern, Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962)
  • J V Tolan, Saracens: Islam in the Medieval European Imagination (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002)
  • C Tyerman, The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

History, Medieval, European, Middle East, Crusades

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date