Philosophy & Ethics 

Entry Requirements - 2018-2020

We require:

GCSE grade 5 in English

Content

Philosophy of Religion deals with such questions as the problem of belief in a good God when there is so much evil in the world; the question of life after death; the possibility of any knowledge of a metaphysical existence, such as ‘soul’; and the meaningfulness of religious experience and religious language.

In Ethics, rather than a focus on whether certain actions are right or wrong, which is typical of many GCSE courses, the focus shifts to the meaning of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, specifically whether this is more about acts themselves or their consequences. These questions are discussed in relation to the value of human and nonhuman life, freedom, responsibility and conscience. 

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. On-going 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.

Assessment

There is no A level examination specifically called ‘Philosophy and Ethics’: it is a particular choice within Religious Studies. We follow the AQA ‘Religious Studies’ syllabus (7062). There is no coursework. A level grades are awarded based on two, three-hour, final examinations, taken in Year 13.

Learning

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. On-going 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.

Career Opportunities

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.