Sultans in Palermo: Muslims and Christians in Medieval Sicily, 998-1300 HIST4302

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 60
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

The course examines the encounter and conflict between Muslims and Christians in medieval Sicily, between the fall of the Kalbid Emirate and the expulsion of the Muslim community from the island. The course explores a wide variety of sources, literary, documentary, artistic, material and architectural in order to explore a uniquely multicultural environment, its wealth, its challenges, and the way its memory has survived and has been used and sometimes weaponised in the modern day.


Three hours of seminar time per week over 20 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus, broken by reading weeks. This is one of the Honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running in the current session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Successful completion of Junior Honours in History.

Excluded Courses





Two Examinations (2-hour duration) - 20% each

Two Essays (2,500 words each) - 20% each

Two Seminar Presentations (10 minutes) accompanied by PowerPoint slides - 6% each

Two written responses (300 words) to peer seminar presentations - 4% each

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Engage with the historiographical debates concerning the multicultural environment of medieval Sicily and its legacy;

■ Develop a critical understanding of the concepts of syncretic coexistence and conflict in interconfessional spaces in the medieval Mediterranean;

■ Analyse and interpret primary sources and secondary materials with an interdisciplinary methodology, from textual and iconographical to material and archaeological evidence;

■ Experience a variety of historiographical approaches, from the traditional (political and military history) to the innovative (gender and race studies, the history of emotions);

■ Develop key transferable skills, such as analysis, assessment of sources and construction of argument.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Critically analyse the history of the medieval Sicilian interconfessional space;

■ Explain how the memory of medieval Sicily was transmitted, reshaped, and weaponised;

■ Discuss the ways in which different cultures and religions met, fought, and coexisted in the medieval Mediterranean;

■ Critically assess issues of identity, religion, alterity and conquest across historical periods;

■ Research and analyse a variety of sources.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.