Dr De Cillis completed her undergraduate studies in the field of Languages and Literatures (English and Arabic) graduating from the Università degli Studi di Napoli - L’Orientale in Naples, Italy in 2001 (cum laude). She received an MA degree in Islamic Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 2004 for which she was awarded a distinction.
She continued her PhD studies at the same institute, graduating in October 2010. Her Thesis is entitled: The Discourse of Compromise: Theoretical Constructs of Free Will and Predestination in the Works of Avicenna, Ghazali and Ibn ʿArabi. The thesis examines the contributions made by these scholars to the discourse on the doctrines of free will and predestination in classical Islamic thought. Her work shows how these luminaries were committed to compromise between philosophical, theological and mystical outlooks.
De Cillis’ research interests encompass the Islamic tradition in the formative period, including Islamic theology (‘ilm al-kalam), the study of the Qur’an, Islamic philosophy (Falsafa) and Islamic spirituality and mysticism (Tasawwuf), as part of the evolution of Islamic intellectual history. In addition she focuses on Shi‘i Islam and Ismaili philosophy.
She has taught at Birkbeck College, SOAS, and the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London.
She is the author of fourteen biographical entries and translations for the Biographical Dictionary of Islamic Civilisation and Culture (I. B. Tauris) (Forthcoming). Dr De Cillis has translated from the French the Introductory paper by Prof. M. Yahia featuring in The Study of Shi‘i Islam. History, Theology and Law, ed. F. Daftary and G. Miskinzoda, I. B. Tauris and The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2014, pp. 253-270.