Europe and the Islamic World, c 1450-1750 - HI6009

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 5 30 (15) DR P Good checkmark-circle


Cultures never develop and grow in isolation. They are built on the values of past generations, and they are shaped and challenged in interaction with other cultures. The main objective of this module is to explore and present the powerful interaction between Europe and the Islamic world in early modern times, c. 1450-1750.
The course will firstly provide an overview of the rise and fall of three major Islamic states and empires (the Abbasid Caliphate, the Safavid Empire, the Ottoman Empire). It will then assess the early modern European encounter with the Islamic world 1) by discussing the scholarly, religious, political and economic incentives for this encounter; 2) by documenting the exchange of knowledge, ideas, values and material objects this encounter stimulated in the early modern period; 3) by exploring the enormous impact, which this encounter had on European civilization. The course will focus on the following topics and areas of life:

1) Transmission of scientific, technical and medical knowledge.
2) Collecting manuscripts and studying the languages of the Islamic world
3) Trade and economic exchange
4) Conflict and cooperation
5) Understanding Islam, translating the Koran
6) European discovery of Arabic literature, art and architecture
7) Arabs in the West (diplomats, travellers, scholars and prisoners)
8) Europeans in the East (diplomats, travellers, scholars and prisoners)


This module appears in the following module collections.

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by 40% coursework, 60% examination.

Students will be required to write two 3,000 word essays. They will also be required to give a presentation to their seminar group. The coursework mark will be made up in this way: Essay 1: 40% (16% total mark); Essay 2: 40% (16% total mark); Presentation and seminar performance: 20% (8% total mark).

Indicative reading

Norman Daniel, Islam and the West. The Making of an Image, new ed. (2009)
Natalie Zemon Davies, Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim between the Worlds (New York 2006)
Adam S. Francisco, Martin Luther and Islam. A Study in Sixteenth-Century Polemics and Apologetics (Leiden, 2007).
Robert Irwin, For Lust of Knowledge. The Orientalists and their Enemies (2006)
Gerald MacLean The Rise of Oriental Travel. English Visitors to the Ottoman Empire 1580-1720 (Basingstoke, 2004)
Margarete Meserve, Empires of Islam in Renaissance historical thought (2008)
The Quran, trans. Tarif Khalidi (2008).
Edward Said, Orientalism (1978)
George Saliba, Islamic Science and the Making of European Renaissance (Massachusetts, 2007)
G J. Toomer, Eastern Wisedome and Learning. The Study of Arabic in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford, 1996).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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