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Philosophy

What is the course about?

Philosophy at A Level seeks to challenge students’ preconceptions and ways of thinking. From the outset, questions such as “How do I know what is true?” ,”Why do arguments make sense?”, or “Can we be certain of existence?” are explored by considering our response to the great thinkers such as Aristotle and Descartes. In Moral Philosophy we seek to understand what makes actions or people good or virtuous – ideas that underpin our sociological, psychological and political understanding. Building on some ideas from Religious Studies GCSE, we consider the existence and nature of God: whether religious belief could be valid or meaningful. Lastly, we consider what is known as the ‘Hard Problem’ – what is consciousness?

Course content

Epistemology: the Theory of Knowledge

  • Justified True Belief
  • Realism
  • Idealism
  • Reason: Plato and Descartes

Moral Philosophy

  • Utilitarianism
  • Kant & Deontology
  • Aristotle and Virtue
  • Applied Ethics: stealing, simulated killing, eating animals, telling lies
  • Ethical Language

Metaphysics of God

  • Concept of God
  • Existence of God
  • Problem of Evil
  • Religious Language

Metaphysics of Mind

  • Dualism
  • Physicalism
  • Functionalism

Assessment

2 x 3 hour written examinations.

Career pathways

Analytical and critical thinking are the key skills required, and students will need to engage with challenging texts and develop academic writing. This provides an excellent platform for higher education. It is particularly relevant for university courses in philosophy, mathematics, theology, psychology, humanities, sociology, international relations, politics, and will also be of interest to scientists, as it relates to in medical ethics and the philosophy of science. Philosophy is abstract and therefore career paths are not directly linked, but any profession that requires rigorous thinking is open to philosophy graduates.

Entry criteria

Minimum of grade 6 in GCSE Religious Studies or History and English Literature or Language.