What is Philosophy?

In Greek, ‘philo’ means love or devotion and ‘sophia’ means wisdom. Philosophers are people who are devoted to the search for wisdom and the goal of wisdom is fulfilment. Philosophers strive for systematic expertise at working out how one may best find individual and collective fulfilment.

Why study A Level Philosophy?

Philosophy is a rigorous academic discipline, and is relevant to all academic study and research.  All good universities accept it as a sound A-level subject.  At degree level many students study it either as a single subject or with other subjects. It accompanies the Humanities, Arts and Sciences equally well.

What are the careers or further education that this course be suitable for?

Increasingly, employers are looking for people who can ‘think outside the box’, analyse and solve problems: the very skills that A Level Philosophy develops. It is particularly relevant to students considering further academic study as well as careers in teaching, law, medicine, economics, journalism, project management, computing, marketing, education and government.

Key Information Summary:

Course TitlePhilosophy A Level
Examination BoardAQA
Linear Qualification?yes
Course Webpage
Entry RequirementsThe minimum requirement is Grade 5 in English literature and a Grade 4 in English language (or vice versa), although Grade 6 is highly recommended. Students need precise analytical and linguistic skills, and a high level of competence in written and spoken English is a prerequisite to success. Students from scientific, arts or humanities backgrounds will all find the course stimulating and challenging.
Contact TeachersMs C Howard
Mr C Pollock

Course Details:

Philosophy asks and explores the most important questions there are. It studies the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence and draws students into dialogue with the most searching, creative and influential thinkers of the last three millennia.

Philosophy develops skills in reasoning, argument and analysis. Students learn how to debate logically and express themselves fluently.  Studying Philosophy demands rigour and imagination, and encourages deep, clear and independent thinking in order to create razor-sharp, informed arguments.

Subject Content:

Students are required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of philosophical theories. They must also be able to analyse and evaluate philosophical arguments to form reasoned coherent judgements. Although the specification is arranged thematically, students will have access to a thorough anthology providing them with the set texts in order to carry out independent closer study.

Paper One

Section A: Epistemology
What is knowledge? Do our perceptions reflect reality? Where do our ideas and concepts come from? How can we be sure that there is an external world independent of our minds? How do we access it? This course explores these fundamental debates, and acts as a springboard for students’ own ideas. Students will explore the distinction between different types of knowledge and evaluate theories of perception.

Section B: Moral Philosophy
How do we decide what is morally right? Upon what basis should we act? What do we need to take into consideration when deciding on the ‘right’ course of action? Students will focus on competing theories of ethics and explore what it is to lead ‘the good life’ through the study of influential thinkers such as Mill, Kant, Aristotle, Hume and Ayer.

Students use an anthology of philosophical texts as a toolkit for analysis, reflection and application.

Paper Two

Section A: The Metaphysics of God
This unit analyses the concept and nature of ‘God’. Classical arguments relating to his existence are explored such as the ‘ontological argument’, the ‘argument from design’, the ‘cosmological argument’ and ‘the problem of evil’. Students will also explore whether religious language allows for any meaningful discussion of God at all.

Section B: The Metaphysics of mind
What do we even mean by the ‘mind’? What is the relationship between the mental and the physical? Are philosophical zombies a possibility? How does the mind causally interact with the body? Can there ever be true artificial intelligence? The theories examined broadly fit into two main strands, those that agree that everything in the world is physical or depends upon the physical and those that do not. In addition, students also explore the extent to which we can be certain that there are minds other than our own.

Assessment Details:

This qualification is linear. Linear means that students will sit all their exams at the end of the course.

Paper One Paper Two
                                     One paper
Section A: Epistemology
Section B: Moral Philosophy

100 marks

3 hour written examination
50% of A level
                                   One paper
Section A:
The Metaphysics of God
Section B:
The Metaphysics of Mind 

100 marks 

3 hour written examination
50% of A level