Philosophy & Ethics
Entry requirements: GCSE grade 5 in RE
If the subject has not been studied at GCSE: GCSE grade 5 in English Language or English Literature
Philosophy deals with such questions concerning the nature of truth and knowledge as discussed by ancient philosophers; psychology of religion, particularly the scientific observation of religious experience; the relationship between the mind and body; the nature of evil; arguments for the existence or non-existence of God; and the purpose, use and limitations of language.
In Ethics, we explore the nature of goodness and how knowledge of goodness can be defined, tested and discussed; ethical language; and conscience. The focus is on applying and evaluating ethical theories such as utilitarianism and natural law. These theories are then further developed in applied ethics, including sexual ethics and business ethics.
Developments in Religious Thought: These components are used to analyse and evaluate the significance, impact and contextualisation of ideas within the Philosophy and Ethics units. These include; the interconnections of ideas and how they vary historically and in the contemporary world; sources of religious wisdom and authority; and significant social and historical developments in theology and religious thought, including the ideas discussed in psychology, science and sociology.
Most lessons are discussion-based, and students will need to be flexible thinkers with an open mind. There are no universally agreed right or wrong answers, but students will need to learn the scholarship that might support a variety of possible answers, and develop their own coherent ideas about the various topics studied, in relation to the established scholarly views. Ongoing assessment is based on essay writing, which is a skill which will be taught, but students need to be able to think critically and write clearly about quite complex questions.
We follow the OCR ‘Religious Studies’ syllabus (H173, H573). There is no coursework. A’ level grades are awarded based on three, two-hour, final examinations, taken in Y13.
This popular and thought-provoking course complements most subjects at A’ level. It will help students develop skills of analysis, reasoning, communication and in-depth conceptual thinking. For these reasons, Religious Studies is one of only three additional subjects, other than the core GCSE subjects, that The Russell Group of universities recommends as an invaluable foundation for many university courses. The skills developed by a study of Philosophy and Ethics will be useful in any career requiring in-depth thinking, alongside clear and coherent communication, such as law, politics, education, social sciences, the media, or any area (eg medicine or business) where ethical decisions might need to be made.