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A Level Philosophy, Ethics & Religion

Head of Department: Mr T. Wright  

Examination Board: OCR

Specification Code: H573 A

Entry Requirement: GCSE Religious Studies or other Humanities subject grade 6

This course is for anyone who is interested in exploring big issues.  It is about asking ‘What is life about?’ (Philosophy), ‘What is right and wrong?’ (Ethics) and ‘What does Christianity say about these issues’ (Religion).  Questions discussed range from ‘Are humans totally free?’ to ‘Is there life after death?’ to ‘Has science disproved God?’  Anyone willing to discuss, question and explore the way people think and act, today and how they did in the past, is welcome to take this course. In fact a true Philosopher ‘loves wisdom’ by definition. 

Course Content:

We examine the views of thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Mill, Darwin, Freud, Kant, Dawkins as well as the Religious perspective on the big questions of existence.  The full title of this course is OCR Religious Studies A level H573 and includes much reference to Humanist and Scientific viewpoints.  It is meant to encourage critical analysis of all viewpoints. 

The course is split into two areas:

Philosophy

Have you ever asked: ‘Who am I?’ ‘What is right?’ ‘Does God exist?’ ‘How can we know anything?’ This is Philosophy. Philosophy is about ideas – ideas about the world, ideas about people and ideas about how to live. It is about everyday life; it’s about exploring the way we think, believe and act.

This part of the course looks at these ideas, especially exploring the existence of God, ideas of evil and suffering and ideas about human nature.  Topics covered include: Plato and Aristotle; Soul, mind and body; Human nature and the purpose of life; Life after death; The self and immortality; Knowledge and revelation of God; The Bible; Arguments for and against theism; The nature of Jesus Christ; Problem of evil; Philosophy of language.

Ethics

Making decisions about what is right and wrong are amongst the most difficult things we do, yet we make them every day and often without much thought. How do we make moral judgements? Religions lay down the challenge that without God (or without religion), people cannot live the way they are intended to live, but is this correct?

This part of the course will examine how we make decisions, issues of conscience and freedom, and issues in the fields of sexual ethics, medical ethics, pluralism and secularism.   Topics covered include: Aristotle and virtue ethics; Aquinas and natural law ethics; Fletcher and situation ethics; Applied ethics including Medical Ethics; Hobbes and egoism; Kant and duty; Singer and utilitarianism; Meta-ethics; Free will and determinism; Secularism; Pluralism in society and religion; Gender in society and religion.

Course Assessment:

Terminal assessment takes place at the end of the second year with three examination papers.

Who should study this subject?

This course teaches skills which are key if considering a career in the law, medicine, economics as well as politics and journalism.  The subject combines well with a wide range of other A levels across the fields of sciences, humanities and arts.  Philosophical reasoning is very highly regarded by employers.  Recent articles in national newspapers place Philosophy in the top ten university degrees for employability.

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