A / AS Level
2 years

What is Philosophy?

The A Level in Philosophy emphasises the development of philosophical skills, especially argumentation. So as a student of philosophy you will embark on a journey of thinking, especially approaching fundamental questions using a process of logical argument. You will discover that philosophers, past and present, deal in arguments – then you’ll get to invent your own, or criticise other people. You will analyse and clarify concepts tracing a tradition from the Ancient Greek to 21st Century modern thinkers.

If you enjoy reading and like to criticise and question the assumptions of life then you will enjoy philosophy. Sometimes the subject requires a high level of abstract thought, but it is no different from any other subject – once key terms become familiar and you learn some of the peculiar language used by some philosophers, then the subject is stimulating and challenging but manageable.

Is Philosophy suitable for me?

Philosophy is an excellent course if you are prepared to change your thought processes, and work hard. Students do not find their initial experiences of philosophy easy, however it is suitable to those with a logical mind and a good grade in Mathematics and English.

How will I learn?

You will read or prepare presentations. You need to use current newspapers, the internet, radio broadcasts and video to apply philosophical argument to deepen your understanding of thinking and moral behaviour. You will need to write essays and take part in class discussion and debates.

The theme for A Level Philosophy is the Real and the Ideal, as such we will ask these questions:

• What can we know?

• Can the existence of God be proved?

• How do we make moral decisions?

• Are my mind and body separate?

You will read extracts from great thinkers including, Descartes, Russell and Plato, as you get to grips with these questions, so you must be prepared to do some difficult reading and conceptual thinking on the Philosophy AS.

How will I be assessed?

AO1 Demonstrate understanding of the core concepts and methods of Philosophy. 80% of marks
AO2 Analyse and evaluate philosophical argument to form reasoned Judgements. 20% of marks

AS Level: Epistemology: The immediate objects of perception: The definition of knowledge: The origin of concepts and the nature of knowledge:
AS Level: Philosophy of Religion: The concept of God, Arguments relating to the existence of God, Religious language.

A2 Level: Ethics How do we decide what it is morally right to do? Kantian deontological ethics: Aristotle’s virtue ethics: Cognitivism:
A2 Level: Philosophy of Mind What is the relationship between the mental and the physical? ‘philosophical zombies’, Mind–brain type identity theory, Eliminative materialism.


You will never regret learning to think and many areas require exactly that – law, computer programming, management consultancy, the civil service and journalism – all occupations that demand clear thinkers. Philosophy is also a subject studied for pleasure – a life-long journey as a ‘lover of wisdom’.

Entry requirements

Students studying toward an A level programme should normally have achieved a GCSE grade profile of A-C. For GCSE Maths and English where a new grading system has been introduced, a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C. Alternatively, students with an A-C grade profile may take a full BTEC/Cambridge Technical programme or mixed A level and BTEC/Cambridge Technical programme. You will be able to discuss course ideas and preferences during your College Guidance Interview. Final decisions will be made when you enrol after your GCSE results.

Please note some courses will have specific GCSE entry requirements. Further details will be available at Open Evenings.  

The most important qualification for success is enthusiasm for, and interest in, the subject. You must have an open mind and enjoy the challenge of exploring new ideas and ways of working.

 You can check your likely GCSE point score by going to 'Choosing the Right Course' on the website and entering your predicted grades.

Course costs

All students will be expected to provide their own textbooks, stationery, computer disks and calculators (where applicable). Any further costs are outlined below:

Essential: £25 for text books – which includes the necessary set texts. £25 for printing of Moodle resources.
Optional: you may consider subscribing to a philosophy magazine.

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.

Course Code