This course has been designed to enable students to gain a thorough grounding in key philosophical concepts, themes, texts and techniques. Students will develop a range of transferable skills which can be applied far beyond the study of Philosophy, and is particularly appealing for those students who have political, legal or economic aspirations or interests.
The students will explore four key areas of Philosophical Enquiry including Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, Ethical Theory and Philosophy of Mind.
In Epistemology, students will examine the range of theories regarding how humans acquire knowledge, how trustworthy our senses and cognition are at gathering knowledge, and whether or not humans possess any innate knowledge. This unit is fascinating in terms of how it makes you question and re-evaluate the most fundamental knowledge and assumptions that you have always taken for granted.
In Philosophy of Religion, students will examine the famous arguments for and against the existence of God, including the cosmological argument, the design argument, the problem of evil, and the very clever argument about whether the very definition of God proves His own existence.
The unit on Ethical Theory is perhaps the most controversial, and is probably the most transferable to other academic disciplines like law, politics and economics. Students explore the possibility that, if there is no God, then there can be no such thing as right or wrong, and therefore no moral obligations (such as not to kill, steal or lie). They will also examine famous ethical theories that underpin most political, economic, military and medical decision making processes. These non-religious ethical theories include utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics.
In Philosophy of Mind, students get to grips with what is the basis for human mental states, and whether there is a real and fundamental difference between ‘mind’ and ‘brain’. Indeed, the implications for saying that there is no mind that is distinct from the brain, has massive implications for our identity, our freedom and our responsibility for the behaviour we exhibit. Students who also study Psychology may find the over-lap here particularly useful.
There will be 2 x 180 minute examinations based on the four units (two units per examination). The examination is in the format of a question booklet comprising of a range of question styles from short factual questions to extended essay-style evaluations. Both examinations will take place at the end of Year 13.
For further details regarding the topics of study and assessment requirements, please refer to (or download) the online specification on the AQA Philosophy website (Google: AQA Philosophy 7172).
What can I do next?
Students who study Philosophy can go on to pursue a diverse range of degrees at University. The course contains the groundwork and study skills relevant to degrees such as Philosophy, Politics, Law, Economics, Medicine, History, Theology, Journalism, Psychology and Sociology. Indeed, the highly prestigious Trinity College (University of Cambridge) lists Philosophy as a subject from the ‘A’ category of preferred subjects, when considering the suitability of an applicant’s A level subject combinations.
Subject minimum entry requirement
There is no need to have studied Philosophy (or related subjects like Religious Studies) beforehand in order to enrol on to this A level course. You will need to have good writing skills, so a strong grade in GCSE English is desirable.
Comments from students:
“It is a subject that really makes you think about things.”
“I enjoy the discussions and it has really made me look at things differently.”
“A very interesting subject where your opinions can easily change and everybody’s thoughts are heard.”
“My favourite subject.”
Mr BM Burton
Joint Head of Humanities (Ethics & Philosophy and Philosophy)