Overview

Please note that this subject is in the process of being reformed for first teaching in September 2017. The information below reflects what is currently known about the new course. Further details will be available in the Autumn term 2016, when the specification (syllabus) has been finalised and published.

​What is the course about?

You will be introduced to the methods and aims of Philosophy through the study of traditional philosophical problems. Please note that you must enjoy reading and writing as well as being prepared to contribute to class discussions. Philosophy is intellectually challenging and very
stimulating. It is guaranteed to get you thinking about things in an entirely new way.

What will I study in the first year?

You will be introduced to philosophical reasoning and argument and how to assess whether an argument is successful or not. You will explore how reason and experience contribute to our knowledge of the world, what our perceptions can tell us about the nature of reality as well as philosophical questions about the nature of God and whether His existence is compatible with evil in the world and how human freedom can be reconciled with an all-powerful creator.

What will I study in the second year?

You will deepen your expertise and understanding of Philosophy by studying Moral Philosophy which involves asking what makes an action right or wrong, what constitutes a good or bad person and whether there can be such a thing as moral truth or whether morals are relative to particular cultures and groups.

You will also study the Philosophy of Mind which investigates the nature of consciousness and whether our minds can be reduced to aspects of our physical bodies or whether they are the kind of things that cannot be subject to scientific explanation.

How is the course assessed?

Assessment is by written examination only. There is no coursework..

What skills will I need and develop in this course?

You will learn the skill of spotting and explaining flaws in philosophical theories and arguments, and you will also be enabled to construct and develop your own arguments in support of, or against, a variety of philosophical positions. You need good written skills and will develop these further in the context of producing essays on philosophical questions.

Careers

​What can the course lead to in terms of higher education and future careers?

Philosophy has always been seen as providing a rigorous intellectual training and is regarded as an invaluable preparation for careers in the law, the higher reaches of the Civil Service and the Diplomatic Service, jobs requiring policy formation, and work in education. Universities particularly value Philosophy for the analytical skills and the cognitive perspective on other disciplines it provides.

Entry Requirements

​What are the formal entry requirements for this course?

Aside from the general entry criteria that the College requires, you will also need to achieve at least a Grade 4 in GCSE English Language. Philosophy A Level is distinct from the material covered in GCSE Religious Studies and performance in English Literature, History and Maths GCSEs are better indicators of success in Philosophy A Level than performance in Religious Studies.

Extra Support

​What extra support/enrichment activities are on offer?

Opportunities are offered for the discussion of ideas both in class and outside of College through visits to events like the annual “Battle of Ideas”. Successful trips to New York took place in July 2010 and July 2013 to visit the United Nations, Ground Zero and Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Students will also be taken to philosophical conferences to enhance their studies at AS and A2 levels, and guest speakers from university Philosophy departments will be invited in. There are also opportunities for extra help in tutorial and lunchtime sessions, and catch-up sessions will be provided for writing tasks that need completion.

Subject combination advice

​Subject combination advice:

Philosophy combines extremely well with most other disciplines because these have philosophical issues embedded within them. It goes very well with Humanities subjects such as History, English Literature and Language, Classical Civilisation, and Politics, but also very well with the Sciences and Social Sciences, such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Psychology.

What is the difference between Philosophy and Psychology?

Psychology has often been described as the science of human and animal behaviour, and as a science it uses empirical methods of investigation, essentially observation and experiment. Philosophy is very different and is carried out through the use of reasoning and conceptual analysis, hence its resemblance to mathematics in this respect. Philosophy is also a much broader discipline than Psychology, encompassing philosophy of science, the theory of knowledge, the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of art, ethics, logic, and political philosophy, to mention only a few of the areas in which it is involved.