Philosophy is all about reasoning and argumentation regarding some of the most profound questions in life. Examples include: ‘What is the nature and extent of our knowledge?’, ‘What does reality consist of?’, ‘Are there non-physical entities?’, ‘Does God exist?’, ‘Is consciousness part of the brain or something separate?’, ‘How should we live?’, ‘What makes an action right or good and how do we resolve ethical debates?’, ‘How do we sort good from bad arguments?’, ‘How does reasoning differ between academic subjects?’

In pursuing such questions, philosophy relies on careful, methodical analysis and a special kind of scepticism.

This two-year, linear course will develop your critical thinking skills and challenge you to look past superficial material to find the core of an argument, assessing its assumptions, strengths, and weaknesses.

The A Level comprises four units, studied over two years.

Year 1 – Epistemology and Moral Philosophy

  • Epistemology is the study of knowledge. We take knowledge for granted in everyday life, but philosophy challenges our assumptions by asking ‘Does knowledge involve Truth with a capital T?’, ‘Why do we think physical objects exist?’ and ‘Are we born with knowledge?
  • The Moral Philosophy unit confronts the question, ‘How should we live?’ and other related questions, such as, ‘Is morality objective or a matter of preference?’ and ‘How do we apply moral theories to real-world situations?’

Year 2 – Metaphysics of God and Metaphysics of Mind

  • Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerning the structure, nature and basis of existence. The Metaphysics of God unit critically explores arguments for and against God’s existence and competing theories about the semantics of religious utterance.
  • In Metaphysics of Mind, we pursue the question, ‘How does the mind relate to the body?’ Is consciousness just part of the brain or is it something else? To this end, we scrutinise and debate a range of positions that seek to identify the mind with either the physical brain or some non-physical feature of reality.

The course is two years and linear, which means that there is no AS exam in the first year. Summative assessment for the A Level consists of two three-hour exams, which take place during the summer exam period in the second year.

Paper 1: Epistemology and Moral Philosophy

  • Written exam: 3 hours
  • 100 marks
  • 50% of the A Level

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

  • Written exam: 3 hours
  • 100 marks
  • 50% of the A Level

There is no summative coursework for this qualification.

Philosophy will help prepare you for a range of academic subjects at university, such as Philosophy, PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), Theology, Religious Studies, History, Politics, Law, Sociology, and Mathematics, and hone your logical skills, crucial for competitive university entry tests and interviews, and invaluable for the world of work.

Philosophy can lead to careers in teaching, welfare services, politics, in international organisations, civil services, and law firms. The key skills of rational decision-making and clear, reasoned argumentation are highly valued at senior management levels.

A minimum of six A*-C grades at GCSE. Learners must achieve at least a grade A in English Literature and at least a grade B in Mathematics. Students should have an overall strong GCSE profile.