Philosophy, Religion and Ethics
A Grade 5 or higher in English Language or Literature (see the 'How I will be assessed?' section for an explanation as to why this is required).
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 if you opt for this course you realise that you will be sitting three ‘high stakes’ written exams. No credit whatsoever is given to your performance in class discussions or the level of engagement you have shown regarding philosophical debates. It all comes down to three two hour exams which will be marked by somebody you have never met who doesn't know how you fare in class. Unfortunately, this means that this is not a subject for those people who really struggle with literacy and this explains why there is a minimum requirement of a Grade 5 in GCSE English or English Literature. Having said that, you will be given a huge amount of time to improve your writing during the course. A vast amount of time is dedicated to improving your general literacy skills and yet more is devoted to honing your subject specific essay writing abilities. Specifically, you will receive extensive feedback on the essays that you write at home throughout the course and lots of opportunities to write timed essays in class. This all means that you will be ready to excel during the three exams at the end of Year 13 and means that if you want to improve your writing skills and excel in literacy based subjects you will find a natural home on this course.
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 said 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 lots about Christianity as this is a large part of the course so you must be willing to learn a great deal about this fascinating faith.
There is no assumed religious, philosophical or ethical knowledge though so please do not be put off applying if you have not studied this subject before.
Where can this lead me?
This really depends what other A-levels you do alongside this course. Students who take this subject alongside other literacy based or Humanities subjects will end up with a superb platform on which to pursue a degree in a written based or Humanities subject. For example, many students who have pursued this course in the past have gone on to study Philosophy at University and have then gone on to careers in fields as varied as journalism, teaching, policing and civil service work. However, other students have take this A Level alongside Science based options and have been able to use it as proof of high literacy skills when they apply for Science based degree courses or things like Medicine. As you can see, this course really is therefore a really excellent foundation for any career path you might choose.
What else is there?
In the past we have had visits from outside speakers including Philosophy lecturers from the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton. 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.