Philosophy (A Level)

WHY SHOULD I STUDY A LEVEL PHILOSOPHY? 

Does anyone know anything? How can we tell what is right or wrong? Should you trust your senses? What is the mind? Does God exist? Do you have free will? Are there any moral facts?

In Philosophy we study a range of answers to these questions, from Ancient Greece to the present day, and try to discover which, if any, are correct. The aim is to develop your own view on the most fundamental questions about our relationship to the world by studying the arguments of history’s most important philosophers.

Philosophy students develop their ability to analyse, explain, evaluate, and construct arguments, as well as how to write clearly and precisely. These skills are used in both written work and discussion and they can help your academic progress on other courses, particularly in essay-based subjects. However, Philosophy combines well with a wide range of other subjects because the fundamental principles and concepts overlap. These subjects include the sciences, politics, history, English, sociology, psychology, mathematics, and the arts.

Philosophy is an exam only course and you are assessed with a combination of short questions asking you to explain what you have learned and longer essays, where you construct an argument for your answer to the question, based on the philosophical arguments you have studied.

A substantial number of our students choose to study philosophy at university, often at leading departments such as King’s College London, Sheffield, and UCL.



 COURSE CONTENT

In Philosophy we study four topics over two years. Approximately 50% of these will be studied in Year 1 and the remaining topics in Year 2.

Epistemology 

• What is knowledge?

    How can perception give us knowledge?

    How can reason give us knowledge?

    What are the limits of knowledge?

Moral Philosophy

    Normative ethical theories: How should we decide what is right and what is wrong?

    Applied ethics: What should we think about stealing, simulated killing in computer games and films, eating animals, and telling lies?

    Meta-ethics: Are there any moral truths?

The Metaphysics of Mind

    Dualism and physicalism: Is the mind non-physical or is it the same as the brain? 

    Eliminative materialism: Has science discovered that our common-sense understanding of the mind is radically mistaken?

    Functionalism: Could anything be a mind, if it functioned in the same way as a normal human brain?

The Metaphysics of God

    The concept and nature of God: If God exists, what kind of being is God?

    Ontological arguments: Does the idea of God demonstrate that God exists?

    Design arguments: Did God design the universe?

    Cosmological arguments: Is God the cause of the universe?

    The problem of evil: Does the existence of evil prove that God does not exist?

    Religious language: Does talk about God make sense?

PROGRESSION TO YEAR 2

Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.

The A Level Philosophy examination assesses all four topics studied over the two years.

FINAL ASSESSMENT 

Two three-hour exams consisting of short answer questions and two longer essay questions.


Minimum Entry criteria

Standard college entry requirements (as detailed on page 12 of the Prospectus) and a minimum of:

Grade 5

In at least two predominantly written based GCSE subjects (from English Language, English Literature, History, Religious Studies or Sociology) 

 

WHAT CAN I DO AFTER STUDYING A LEVEL PHILOSOPHY? 

Philosophy is very effective at developing critical reasoning, clear writing, and discussion skills. These are highly valued on most degree courses. Philosophy can also help to support a career in any area that values those skills. Such careers include most professions (law, medicine, the civil service, teaching, journalism, engineering, management, and so on) and many creative areas (writing, art, theatre, film or television, design). Analytic and logical thinking is valued in many new technology sectors, including internet, artificial intelligence, and social media companies. Where Philosophy takes you will depend on what other skills and experience you combine it with.

FURTHER INFORMATION 

A Level Philosophy makes use of a range of readings, videos, and online support materials and assessments. Therefore, it is useful to have access to the internet at home and an internet capable mobile phone for use in some lessons.

Textbooks supporting the course may be purchased at approximately £25