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Philosophy A-Level at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College

Course description

Human beings keep posing questions that science can’t answer: Can we rely on our five senses as sources of knowledge? Does the mind impose its own structure on what we experience? Is the idea of God coherent? Can science provide an explanation for the origins of the universe?

Philosophy tries to answer some of them. It is an active subject. So if you decide to take it, you’ll need to be prepared to get stuck in. Through the process of doubting, questioning, debating and, above all, being open to views you may not agree with, you’ll develop and write-up your own ideas in a clear and coherent way.

At A2 level, you have the chance to widen your interests and delve deeper into some of the issues introduced at AS level. We will discuss some of the most puzzling ethical issues that mankind has struggled to resolve, concerning how individuals should live and whether there is such a thing as moral truth. We will also look at modern philosophical approaches to the mind/body problem, including asking whether artificial intelligence is a realistic possibility.

Philosophy is prized by universities and employers for the training it provides in the arts of reasoning and analysis. It is accepted for entry onto degree courses in Philosophy and many other subjects.

Course content

AS Level

This course consists of two modules, each covering topics that introduce students to the study of Philosophy:

Epistemology:

  • What are the immediate objects of perception– explores the role of perception in gaining knowledge about reality
  • The origins of concepts and the nature of knowledge – questions whether we can have genuine knowledge about reality
  • The definition of knowledge – investigates the conditions needed to satisfy any claim to knowledge

Philosophy of Religion:

  • The concept of God – examines challenges that arise from considering the nature of God
  • Arguments relating to the existence of God – explores the traditional arguments for and against the existence of God
  • Religious language – asks whether religious language refers to God, or if its meaning lies elsewhere
A2 Level

Students who choose to continue their study of Philosophy will take two further modules:

Ethics:

  • Ethical Theories – explores the nature of moral decision-making, asking: Is personal interest relevant to morality?
  • Ethical Language – are there any objective moral facts, or should we abandon morality as incoherent or mistaken?

Philosophy of Mind:

  • The mind/body problem – what is the relationship between our minds and the physical world?
  • Dualism – different theories that the mind and body are distinct and issues surrounding these theories
  • Materialism – different theories that an understanding of the mind can be reduced to physical processes and issues arising out of these theories
How it is taught

We use a variety of teaching methods, and expect you to get involved; you will be expected to participate in discussion and problem solving activities, as well as read, take notes and write essays.

All the units are assessed by exams.

Entry requirements

The usual entry requirement to QE is 5 GCSE grades at C or above including Maths or English. A good number of students study four AS Levels in their first year and to do this we require at least 3B grades and 3C grades at GCSE including Maths and English Language. Students who do not achieve these GCSE grades take fewer subjects at A Level and will be required to do resits in GCSE Maths and English if they have not already achieved a grade C in these core subjects. The College is large enough to have a very flexible timetable that allows students to take almost any combination of subjects at A Level. The advantage of this system is that we can tailor your programme to suit your needs and abilities. We give lots of advice if you decide to apply to the College.

Subject Specific

Students need a grade B at GCSE in English and Maths to take Philosophy.

Assessment

AS – Epistemology Philosophy of Religion

1 x 3 hour exam - 1st Year June (50% of A Level)

A2 – Ethics Philosophy of Mind

1 x 3 hour exam - 2nd Year June (50% of A Level)

Future opportunities

Philosophers from QE have gone on to a wide range of careers, including management consultancy, journalism, teaching, advertising and working in the health service. Universities accept Philosophy as an A Level for a huge variety of courses. Many Philosophy students choose to do combined courses such as Philosophy with Politics, Psychology or Physics.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 17 April 2015
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