What does it mean ‘to know’ something? Can we ever be certain of anything? Does God exist? Do humans have freewill? Is Science capable of explaining all aspects of reality? Is the mind the same as the brain? These are some of the ultimate questions that Philosophy tries to answer. It is a subject for those who like debate and are seeking to understand fundamental truths about the nature of themselves and what ultimately exists.
Human beings are equipped with a powerful intellectual capability, and as an academic discipline, Philosophy uses reasoning in order to try and answer some of these questions rather than simply accepting, without question, conventional views or traditional authority. This demanding course will therefore enhance your ability to analyse issues, question received assumptions and develop clear and logical reasoning skills through engagement with philosophical texts, discussion and essay writing. You will learn what great thinkers of the past and present have said about life’s big issues and evaluate them in critical essays.
The AQA Philosophy specification is broken down into four sections:
Epistemology – What are the sources and limits of human knowledge? Can we know anything for certain?
Moral Philosophy - Are moral values purely subjective? On what basis should we seek to justify our moral values?
Metaphysics of God - Does God exist? Is it possible to prove or disprove the existence of God?
Metaphysics of Mind – What is the nature and origin of human consciousness? Are our thoughts biologically predetermined?
The course is assessed in two, three hour exams sat at the end of Year 13. Paper One assesses Sections 1 and 2, and Paper Two assesses Sections 3 and 4. Both papers make up 50% of the A Level. There is no coursework in this subject.
Philosophy is regarded highly by universities and acts as a basis for many other areas of study. In addition to being an excellent choice in combination with any other Social Science or Humanities subject, the importance of logic and reasoning has traditionally made Philosophy a good foundation for the study of Mathematics and Science.
A Grade 5 at GCSE in a Humanities subject. This is a demanding course in terms of literary content and Grade 6s are desirable. Also, at least Grade 5 in GCSE Maths and English.
You could take this course to complement other Advanced Level courses, which could lead onto Higher Education in Philosophy, the Social Sciences, Religious Studies, or more general Higher Education courses. With further training, you could go into a job related to Philosophy, People or Religion by working in Human Relations, Research or Teaching. It will help you to develop the skills, understanding and knowledge that many employers across lots of industries are looking for.