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Philosophy, Religion and Ethics

Entry requirements

5 in GCSE English Language or Literature

What will I study

During this course you will learn about the fascinating disciplines of Philosophy and Ethics.  In philosophy, we start by looking at the history of western philosophy with a study of the ideas of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle before going on to look at the traditional arguments for God’s existence. You will also discover what different people mean by the terms ‘God’, ‘miracle’ and ‘religious experience’ and consider how the language we use shapes our experience of reality.

You will also explore issues surrounding the afterlife and the distinction between our body and our ‘soul’.

In ethics, you will look at various ethical theories and how they relate to the world around us.  From the strict rule based systems of Kant to the calming motto of Situation Ethics you will discover that there is more to ethical decision making than meets the eye. You will also be forced to consider what we mean by the term ‘good’ and whether or not businesses should care about their employees, their consumers or, indeed, the environment.

The Development in Christian Thought unit will allow you to explore the philosophical and ethical issues the course brings up from a Christian perspective. It will also delve deeply into the Bible and Church History.

How will I be assessed?

This course is designed to be assessed exclusively at the end of Year 13. At that point each of the following units will be assessed by a separate two hour exam:

  1. Philosophy of Religion
  2. Religion and Ethics
  3. Developments in Christian thought

Each exam will be worth 33.3% of the overall qualification. There is no coursework and no other work will count towards your final grade. It is therefore essential that all students who opt for this course realise that they will be sitting three ‘high stakes’ exams. Having said that, students will receive a extensive feedback on their essays and lots of opportunities to hone their skills in essay writing in timed conditions prior to their final exams so will be ready to excel on the day.

Is this subject for me?

This course is for anybody who is fascinated by the big questions in life and who wants to find out what some of the greatest minds in human history have had to say about them. You will need to love discussing and writing about ‘ultimate questions’ (such as ‘Is there a God?’, ‘Why is there evil in the world?’, ‘How should I live?’). You will constantly be expected to share your views on these issues whilst listening respectfully to the views of others (even if you disagree with them). You will also need to want to learn more about Christianity – the largest religion in terms of number of followers in both this country and across the Earth.

There is no assumed religious, philosophical or ethical knowledge though so please don’t be put off applying if you haven’t studied this subject before.

Where can this lead me?

This really depends what other A-levels you do in combination but you could end up doing anything. A lot would depend on what university course you choose to go into. If you choose to read philosophy at university you could look to go into journalism, teaching, the police, social work, law or any ‘Graduate Recruitment’ scheme which requires an academic degree. It is a very highly regarded subject.

This course can lead to a range university programmes. Philosophy and Ethics is highly respected by all the top Russell Group universities. Indeed, nearly one in three students reading English at Oxford University has studied this A-level. The course is a perfect accompaniment to other humanities subjects like history or geography but it can equally show universities that you are capable of achieving well in an essay based subject if your other subjects are the likes of maths and the sciences. Many people who study philosophy A-level go on to read philosophy at university but the range of other options available to you will depend on the other subjects you do at A-level.

What else is there?

In the past we have had visits from outside speakers including a philosophy lecturer from the University of Sussex. Students have also attended a Philosophy and Ethics conference at Chichester Cathedral. These are the sort of opportunities that we will continue to offer in the future.

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