Philosophy A Level

Overview

Philosophy will show students how to think about some of life’s most important questions in a new and critical way: Does God exist? What is the mind? Is War wrong? Do humans have freedom? Why does the universe exist? 

Students will explore and discuss ideas, examine beliefs, be shown how to explain different views clearly and reach judgements based on a precise evaluation of the available information. Philosophy is a fascinating and demanding subject, which has been taught at Oxford University for 800 years and Cambridge since the 1500’s.  The great philosophers, like John Locke and Karl Marx, have shaped the very world we live in today. 

The course will broaden students' outlook on life and develop critical reasoning skills essential in a wide range of careers.

What goes well with this course?

Philosophy combines well with many other subjects.  Topics explored in Philosophy complement other studies including:
 
  • The Natural Sciences & Mathematics
  • Languages & Literature  
  • Psychology
  • Law, Politics and Sociology
  • Computer Science & IT
The skills of analysis, interpretation and evaluation, which are gained from a close study of philosophical ideas, are relevant and useful in most areas of study, from History to Film and Media.

Progression

Studying philosophy will provide students with an advanced level of generic skills that are immensely useful in a wide range of jobs in such diverse fields as Journalism and Media, Government and Public Administration, Computing, Law, Education and Research, Social Work and of course, Teaching. 

Course Content

 
This course includes the following two topics in the first year:
 

1. Epistemology which covers main themes such as:

  • What is Knowledge? - distinguishing between different kinds of knowledge and defining the concept.
  • Perception as a Source of Knowledge - exploring our knowledge of the external world.
  • Reason as a Source of Knowledge - considering whether we can know about the world through reason alone.
  • The Limits of Knowledge - questioning whether humans can have any knowledge at all. 

 

2. Moral philosophy which examines ethical theories and their application to areas like:

  • Simulated killing (within computer games, plays, films, etc.)
  • The treatment of animals
  • Deception and the telling of lies
  • Stealing

In the second year, students study a further two topics:

3. The Metaphysics of God which looks at arguments both for and against God's existence.  It covers the following themes:

  • The concept and nature of 'God' - Does the idea of an all-powerful, all-loving and all-knowing God make sense?
  • Arguments relating to the existence of God - Does the existence and nature of the world prove God's existence? Does suffering show that He could not exist?
  • Religious language - does religious language make sense or is it just nonsense?

4. The Metaphysics of Mind which explores some of the most important issues in philosophical psychology, including:

  • What do we mean by 'mind’? What are the defining features of the mind?
  • Substance dualism - Is the mind a non-physical soul?
  • Property dualism - Are mental states non-physical properties which emerge from the brain?
  • Physicalist theories - Is the mind behaviour or the brain? Do minds even exist?

 

In preparation for the first year of this course, please take a look at our Starting with Confidence leaflet, which will give you a head start when you begin the course in September.

 

Educational Experiences

Course Specific Trips, Visits & Experiences

Philosophy students have the opportunity to take part in a variety of course related experiences. In recent years, these have included:

  • A trip to St. Mary’s Church, Reigate, where students had the opportunity to meet the Reverend Dave Bull and ask questions concerning religious truth. 
  • A visit to the sixth form Philosophy conference held at Trinity School, Croydon. 
  • A trip to the Southampton philosophy conference, where students attended a number of fascinating lectures on topics like: ‘Nietzsche on the meaning of life’, and ‘Can we justify human rights?’  

In addition to course specific experiences, students also have the opportunity to get involved in the College’s:

Activities Programme and Guest Speaker Programme.

Assessment

Philosophy is assessed 100% by examination. 

The exam board for Philosophy A Level is AQA.

Entry Requirements

All students need to have at least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above (and a satisfactory school reference) in order to be accepted on an A Level/BTEC Level 3 Programme. 

In addition, students should meet the following minimum GCSE requirements:  

  • Grade 5 in English Language, and
  • Grade 4 in Maths

No previous experience of Philosophy is required.

Students should have an enquiring mind, enjoy reading, exchanging ideas in discussion and have a genuine interest in current affairs and the law. The ability to argue a case, in speech and writing, is essential.

How to Apply

Applications for entry September 2018

The application form for the academic year 2018-2019 is available to download here.

Students from non-partner schools must return their forms directly to Reigate College, NOT their schools. All applications will be considered according the College's Admissions Policy.

Students from partner schools (Reigate, Warwick, de Stafford and Oakwood) should return their completed Partner Schools Application Form to their school. 

The initial cut-off date for applications for entry September 2018 is 1st November 2017. A student's chances of obtaining a place are higher, the earlier the application is made. Students who apply after 1st November 2017 will be placed on a waiting list.

Please see the Admissions timetable for information about the College’s enrolment process.

Download Course Leaflet

Download the A Level Philosophy information leaflet.

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