Course Number: PHH 304
Course Title: History of Medieval Philosophy


Jon Kirwan, MEd, DPhil (Oxon)


This course will introduce students to medieval philosophy and, in addition to focusing on major thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham, examine its importance today in such topics as the nature and existence of God, the relationship between faith and reason, and the human soul and its faculties.


At the end of the course, the student should be able to demonstrate a firm grasp of the significance of the position of each philosopher studied on the following questions:


Week 1: Introduction to Medieval Philosophy and the Patristic Period


Copleston: 1-50

Pieper: 15-25


Week 1 Post

Week 2: St. Augustine – Part 1


Copleston: 51-86

Pieper: 25-55


Week 2 Post

Week 3: St. Augustine – Part II


St. Augustine: The Nature of the Good, Ch. 1-40 (

St. Augustine: De Trinitate, Book X, Ch. 6-12 (


Week 3 Post

Week 4: Pseudo-Dionysius and Boethius – Part I


Copleston: 91-100

Boethius: Consolation of Philosophy, Books I & II



Week 5: Boethius – Part II


Boethius: Consolation of Philosophy, Books III & IV


Week 5 Post

Week 6: Boethius – Part III


Boethius: Consolation of Philosophy, Book V


Week 6 Post

Week 7: Problem of Universals, St. Anselm – Part I, and Mid-Term Week


Copleston: 136-165

Pieper: 55-77


Week 7 Post

Week 8: St. Anselm – Part II and Arabic and Jewish Philosophy


Copleston: 186-211

St. Anselm: Proslogion – “Guanilo’s Reply on Behalf of the Fool” and “Anselm’s Reply to Guanilo”


Complete the weekly discussion board assignment.


Week 9: St. Bonaventure – Part I


Copleston: 212-217, 240-292

St. Bonaventure: Retracing the Arts to Theology (


Week 9 Post

Week 10: St. Bonaventure – Part II


St. Bonaventure: The Journey of the Mind to God, Prologue, Chapters I-VII

Pieper: 77-100


Week 10 Post

Week 11: St. Thomas Aquinas – Part I


Copleston: 302-374

Pieper: 100-118


Week 11 Post

Week 12: St. Thomas Aquinas – Part II


St. Thomas Aquinas on God and Providence: Summa Theologiae, Book I, Q 2; Q 5; Q 14; Q 18; Q 22 (

Pieper: 118-126



Week 13: St. Thomas Aquinas – Part III


St. Thomas Aquinas on the Powers of the Soul: Summa Theologiae, Book I, Q. 75; Q. 76, a 6; Q. 77; Book I-II, Q. 6; Q. 8; Q. 22; Q. 24; Q. 25 (

Pieper: 126-136


Week 13 Post

Week 14: Duns Scotus


Copleston: 476-551

Pieper: 136-162


Research paper due

Week 15: Finals Week

Final Exam


Each week students read selected works and then engage in a discussion of the material in the online discussion forums. This class is asynchronous, meaning that we do not meet live on a certain day and time. Our interaction is through the discussion boards. I strongly encourage you to make the most of this course by engaging with your fellow students in the discussion boards.  Discussion posts are not required on days when other assignments are due.

I am happy to answer questions and provide assistance. The most expeditious method to contact me is through Holy Apostles email at

Please note the following specific requirements and due dates below.

Class Discussion Board:

On ten weeks, when other assignments are not due, students respond substantively (roughly 250 words) to a weekly discussion prompt. The discussion posts allow students to demonstrate familiarity with the lesson material and offer opportunities for developing their academic writing ability and should not be merely reflective. Follow HACS guidelines for citing sources. The weekly discussion post is due at the end of each week by 11:59pm eastern time on Saturday.

Each week students will respond substantively (around 50 words) to the work of at least two other students. Although I expect students to respond to comments on their own posts, these do not count as part of the two required peer responses. The two required peer responses must be on the initial posts of at least two different students. The intent is to encourage discussion and interaction among students as would occur during a live classroom session. In order to count for grading purposes, responses must be posted by the following Wednesday at 11:59 pm eastern time.

Citations in Discussion Posts

For the purposes of the discussions in Populi, please provide a full footnote for sources at the end of your post. You will have to type a special character (^) at the beginning and end of your numbers to make a superscript in Populi, e.g. ^1^, ^2^, etc. Number your footnotes at the end of your post to correspond to the numbers in the body of your post. Also, to bold, italicize, or underline words in Populi, please refer to the “Formatting Guide” located below all discussion/comment fields in Populi.


Students complete two online quizzes in Populi. Questions consist of multiple choice, true/false, and/or matching. Each quiz is open book with a 1-hour time limit.


Each exam consists of a series of multiple choice, true/false, matching, and essay questions. Students will complete the exams online through Populi.  

Due dates for the exams are:

Mid-term: Week 8

Final: Week 15

Research Paper:

Learning to conduct research, analyze a topic, and write well are very important skills for each student to develop. Therefore, each student will write a 8 to 10 page research paper on a metaphysics topic. This project involves the following steps and due dates (each student is responsible for knowing and following this information without instructor prompts and reminders):

Step 1: Select an appropriate topic from the history of Medieval philosophy. Your topic must involve researching and/or analyzing a certain aspect of Medieval philosophy, as opposed to simply reporting on a topic. For example, “The Life of St. Thomas Aquinas” is not an appropriate research topic but an examination of a certain aspect of his thought is. Topic must be approved by the course instructor no later than the end of Week 10

Step 2: Prepare an annotated bibliography for the project. The intent of an annotated bibliography is to help you select initial resources with which to begin your research. You will likely discover other sources as you conduct your research – this is perfectly acceptable since the annotated bibliography is a starting point. The annotated bibliography must include at least five academic-quality sources. “Sources” such as Wikipedia are not considered academic-quality. Direct any questions on whether a source is of appropriate academic-quality to the instructor. Email the instructor a copy of your annotated bibliography as an attachment and post a copy of your annotated bibliography in the appropriate folder in the class discussion board. Due end of Week 10

An annotated bibliography lists the works the student intends to cite along with a succinct defense of why that particular source is appropriate to the chosen topic and/or how the student intends to use that source in his work. Below is a sample annotated bibliography entry:

        Harrison, D. J. “Using the Moral Language of Cultures to Dialogue.” Social Justice Review, 100 (2009):142-146. An examination of the use of Natural Law to enable interfaith dialogue, which is pertinent to my research because it addresses communication between peoples of different backgrounds.

A complete sample annotated bibliography is posted under the course info tab. Please refer to it as an example for format and content.

Step 3: Write an 8 to 10 page research paper (Times New Roman font, 12-point, double-spaced). Follow the HACS style sheet. Include a bibliography at the end of your paper. Please note that you do not double-double space between paragraphs, but instead indent each new paragraph ½ inch. Since this project is designed to help undergraduate students learn the craft of writing academic papers, the use of proper spelling, grammar, and style are very important and will be evaluated as part of a student’s final grade for the paper. Direct any questions regarding paper format to the instructor. Email a copy of your paper to the course instructor and post a copy in the appropriate folder in the discussion board. Research paper due end of Week 14

 (The rubric for major papers – see below - applies to the research paper.)





Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at


A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below

Grading Rubric for the Major Papers and Discussion Board (DB) Postings

F – Paper
0 pts. – DB Posting;

F – Paper
5 pts. – DB Posting;

D – Paper
6 pts. – DB Posting;

C – Paper
7 pts. – DB Posting;

B pts. – Paper
8.5 pts. – DB Posting;

A – Paper
10 pts. – DB Posting;


Absence of Understanding

Analysis shows no awareness of the discipline or its methodologies as they relate to the topic.

Lack of Understanding

Analysis seems to misunderstand some basic concepts of the discipline or lacks ability to articulate them.

Inadequate understanding

Analysis is sometimes unclear in understanding or articulating concepts of the discipline.

Adequate understanding

Analysis demonstrates an understanding of basic concepts of the discipline but could express them with greater clarity.

Solid Understanding

Analysis demonstrates a clear understanding and articulation of concepts with some sense of their wider implications.

Insightful understanding

Analysis clearly demonstrates an understanding and articulation of concepts of the discipline as they relate to the topic; highlights connections to other concepts; integrates concepts into wider contexts.


Missing Research

Paper shows no evidence of research: citation of sources missing.

Inadequate research and/or documentation

Over-reliance on few sources; spotty documentation of facts in text; pattern of citation errors.

Weak research and/or documentation

Inadequate number or quality of sources; many facts not referenced; several errors in citation format.

Adequate research and documentation but needs improvement

Good choice of sources but could be improved with some additions or better selection; did not always cite sources; too many citation errors.

Solid research and documentation

A number of relevant scholarly sources revealing solid research; sources appropriately referenced in paper; only a few minor citation errors.

Excellent critical research and documentation

Critically selected and relevant scholarly sources demonstrating extensive, in-depth research; sources skillfully incorporated into paper at all necessary points; all citations follow standard bibliographic format.


Incomplete writing

Analysis is only partially written or completely misses the topic.

Writing difficult to understand, serious improvement needed

Analysis fails to address the topic; confusing organization or development; little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Episodic writing, a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

Analysis noticeably neglects or misinterprets the topic; simplistic or repetitive treatment, only partially-internalized; weak organization and development, some meandering; simple sentences, below-level diction; distracting errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Analysis is an uneven response to parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment; satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors.

Solid writing, with something interesting to say.

Analysis is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reasons and examples; level-appropriate syntax and diction; mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error.

Command-level writing, making a clear impression

Analysis is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of issues; compelling organization and development; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage.

COMMUNITY INTERACTION (50-word response)

Inadequate response

Response merely provides laudatory encouragement for original post, e.g., “Excellent post! You really have thought of something there.”

Poor response

Response misses the point of the original posting.

Weak response

Response summarizes original posting to which it responds.

Acceptable response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds.

Individually-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds and fosters its development.

Community-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the learning community and fosters its development.


Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.


Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.

Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.

Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.

Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.


Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.


An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.


Jon Kirwan, MEd, DPhil (Oxon), received his doctorate from the University of Oxford and is an Assistant Professor at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, CA.  Specializing in twentieth-century French thought, his doctoral thesis, soon to be published by Oxford University Press, focuses on the debate between Thomism and the nouvelle théologie.