Medieval Philosophy Elaborating Faith:
Thomistic Metaphysics and Ethics


Dr Callan Ledsham
Semester 1, 2020
Thursday 2.00pm – 5.00pm

This unit explores the thought of the medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225–74), with a focus on his ethics and his metaphysics. It is suitable as an introduction both to medieval philosophy and to the main elements of Thomistic thought. The unit examines selected themes in Aquinas in their medieval context, in the context of Aquinas’ own thought, and in the context of the later history of Thomism. The unit introduces some key Thomistic doctrines and the fundamental concepts of Thomistic philosophy, in addition to ‘patterns of thought’ that are distinctively Thomistic. Topics covered may include: metaphysics and the real distinction of being and esse, virtue theory, natural law, cosmology and the perfection of the universe, the human soul and immortality.

Census Date

Tuesday 17 March 


one foundational unit of philosophy


face-to-face 3-hour weekly classes in semester


  • one 6,000-word essay 90%
  • one 1,000-word skeleton argument 10%
  • one 4,000-word essay 50%
  • one 1,000-word skeleton argument 10%
  • one 2-hour written examination (2,000 words) 40%
  • one 4,000-word essay 50%
  • one 1,000-word skeleton argument 10%
  • one 2,000-word essay 40%


  • Blanchette, Oliva. The Perfection of the Universe According to Aquinas: A Teleological Cosmology. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992.
  • Boyle, Leonard E. Facing History: A Different Thomas Aquinas. Louvain-La-Neuve: Federation Internationale des Instituts d’Etudes Medievales, 2000.
  • Davies, Brian. Aquinas. Outstanding Christian Thinkers. London: Continuum, 2002.
  • Jordan, Mark D. Rewritten Theology: Aquinas After his Readers. Challenges in Contemporary Theology. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006. 
  • Kerr, Fergus, ed. Contemplating Aquinas: On the Varieties of Interpretation. Faith in Reason. London: SCM, 2003.
  • McCool, Gerald A. From Unity to Pluralism: The Internal Evolution of Thomism. New York: Fordham University Press, 1989.
  • Pope, Stephen J. The Ethics of Aquinas. Moral Traditions. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2002.
  • Rziha, John. Perfecting Human Actions: St. Thomas Aquinas on Human Participation in Eternal Law. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2009.
  • Velde, Rudi A. te. Participation and Substantiality in Thomas Aquinas. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995. 
  • Wippel, John F. The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas: From Finite Being to Uncreated Being. Monographs of the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy 1. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2000.