Philosophy breaks down the assumptions that we make about the world we live in and subjects them to close and careful scrutiny. We claim to know things, but what does it mean to have knowledge? Can we know things without sufficient evidence, and what might count as evidence? What does it mean to say that something is good and can we ever get close to a proper guide to moral thinking? What does it mean to say that you have a mind? Can a computer be conscious? These questions and more are considered in detail. We look at the various arguments that have been proposed as answers to them and attempt to offer some sort of evaluation.
There are four modules. The first two are studied in Year 12, the latter two in Year 13.
• What is knowledge?
• Perception (how reliable is our sense experience?)
• Reason as a source of knowledge (can we know things that we have not experienced?)
• The limits of knowledge (is there anything we cannot know?)
• Normative ethical theories (methods of calculating what is right or wrong)
• Applied ethics (applying moral arguments to real problems such as theft, lying, eating animals, simulated killing – such as in video games)
• Meta-ethics (how we understand moral claims)
Metaphysics of God
• The concepts and nature of God
• Arguments relating to God (arguments for and against His existence)
• Religious language (can we speak meaningfully about the transcendent?)
Metaphysics of Mind
• What do we mean by ‘mind’?
• Dualist theories of mind (is the mind separate from the body?)
• Physicalist theories of mind (is the mind a product of the brain?)
As a linear course all examinations are at the end of the second year.
There are 2 three hour examinations, each accounting for 50% of marks.
Examining Board – AQA
Special Entry Requirements
A minimum of 4 GCSEs at grade 6 (B) or above is required. The standard A level entry requirements also apply.
There are no prohibited options. While there are some similarities to A Level Religious Studies there are also significant differences. It is perfectly acceptable to select both courses – many students do.
Career and Progression Opportunities
While few students go on to become philosophers, all find that studying philosophy offers support both to university applications or to career choices beyond university. Indeed, philosophy graduates enjoy higher employment rates than most other humanities and social science graduates thanks to its abstract and critical nature. Typical career progressions include law, teaching, journalism, civil service, local government, as well as many graduate training schemes.
There are two main modes of teaching. Firstly there is discussion and engaging with the questions being raised, which involves reading and researching schools of thought and a lot of debate. Secondly, there is writing. In order to do well, as philosophers and students, we must be able to articulate these arguments and learn how to deploy them effectively. It is important to stress that while there are competing schools of thought and we will not present any of these schools as ‘right’, it is essential that we are prepared to examine these approaches with vigour and precision. As such this is a demanding and difficult course and should not be considered as an extension of your own opinions.
This information is correct for September 2019 entry.