A Level Philosophy

Course title: Advanced GCE in Philosophy

Exam board: AQA

Subject specific entry criteria: Minimum Grade 6 in a relevant Humanities subject at GCSE (ideally Religious Studies or History)

Course overview

Paper 1: Epistemology and Moral Philosophy: What is knowledge? Realism, Idealism, Innatism, Normative Ethical Theories, Applied Ethics and Meta-Ethics

In Epistemology you will look at what knowledge is and where knowledge comes from. We will explore whether knowledge is able to be formed only from perception or whether reason can also be a source of knowledge. We will also look at one of the most influential philosophers of all time (Descartes) and whether there is a limit to knowledge by applying his scepticism.

In the Moral Philosophy section, we will delve into ideas about what makes an action right or wrong, focusing on normative ethical theories such as Utilitarianism and Virtue Ethics and Deontology. The area of moral philosophy also explores applied ethics, looking at matters such as stealing, eating animals and telling lies. Such topics can all lead into theory on moral realism and the existence of our own morals.

Paper 2: The Metaphysics of God and the Metaphysics of Mind: The nature of God and arguments relating to the existence of God, Religious Language, What do we mean by mind, Dualist and Physicalist theories and Functionalism

In The Metaphysics of God we will look into the nature of God and how that can allow us to question or prove the existence of a higher being. This includes the famous ontological, cosmological and teleological arguments as well as exploring the biggest problem for believers; The Problem of Evil. We will also look into religious language and the issues around verification and falsification.

The Metaphysics of Mind looks at whether minds exist and are not identical to bodies, or whether there are some properties of the mind that are not reducible to physical properties. In short, we ask the question What is the mind? And where could it be situated?

Assessment overview

Paper 1: Epistemology and Moral Philosophy

  • 3 hours
  • 100 marks
  • 50% of A Level
  • Section A: 5 questions on Epistemology
  • Section B: 5 questions on Moral Philosophy.

Paper 2: The Metaphysics of God and the Metaphysics of Mind

  • 3 hours
  • 100 marks
  • 50% of A Level Section
  • A: 5 questions on the metaphysics of God Section
  • B: 5 questions on the metaphysics of mind.
Future progression

Philosophy is one of the most versatile A Levels you can undertake. Philosophy is perfectly suited to wider study at university in the fields of Law, Politics, Economics, History, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Business and/or Management Degrees as well as the study of Theology, Classics and Criminology. Philosophy contains the logic and reason that can be applied to many pathways, as well as a purely Philosophical route.

Potential careers

Philosophy can provide a lead into virtually any career; the logical thinking and reasoning you use is applicable in many potential future pathways. More specifically it can apply to all roles within the Legal Sector with the possibility of conversion courses as well as roles in Politics and Economics. Other options are Publishing, Public Relations, Ministry, Journalism, Business and Management as well as fundraising and non-profit work. It also opens doors to roles in Advertising, the Civil Service and Social Work; and that is just to name a few.

How to succeed in Philosophy

You will need to:

  • be organised, read around the subject and seek out/ read the work of a variety of different philosophers
  • write essays with good critical analysis of arguments and formulate logical responses
  • engage in the wider world through the news and other sources in order to apply current issues to the theory.