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Philosophy International Baccalaureate group 3 subject at Dane Court Grammar School

Course description

The course aims to enable students to:

  • Understand philosophy and develop the skills of thinking independently and creatively 
  • Study, develop and evaluate arguments about the human condition and the universe
  • Examine critically their own experience and ways of thinking
  • Apply philosophical understanding to the diverse world around us 
  • Examine philosophical thinking and cultural perspectives from around the world 

IB Philosophy is special because:

  • It asks for and encourages personal engagement — "I think/feel because....." 
  • It encourages creativity — you use cartoons, pop lyrics, movies, paintings as a starting point for philosophical reflections — you choose and you do philosophy.
  • It's existential — it focuses on the real heart of philosophy by making the core theme address questions about the nature and meaning of human life. 
  • It's international — we study famous continental and British philosophical texts. 

Course content

1. Core theme: What is a human being? (standard level and higher level)

The core involves debates about the soul, personal identity, humans as machines, free will and determinism, importance of reason experience emotion, meaning of life, death, gender, existentialism.

2. Optional themes:

a) Theories and problems of ethics (standard level and higher level): examining ethical theories — based on ideas from self-interest, God, duty to the greatest happiness; what is moral sense — natural/cultural? Debates about the meaning of right and wrong; applied ethics — bio-medical and environmental issues, inequality.

b) Philosophy of religion (higher level only): concepts of God, arguments for and against the existence of God, the problem of evil and suffering; religious language, ritual and symbol; religious experience — what is it? debates and interpretations; religion around the world — gender, politics, culture.

3. Study of the French Philosopher Rene Descartes' book 'Meditations' (standard level and higher level):

Explores the concepts of knowledge, the Soul and God. Regarded as one of the most influential philosophical texts ever written. 

Entry requirements

General entry requirements:

International Baccalaureate Diploma:  6 B and 2 C grades at GCSE

International Baccalaureate Career-Related Programme:  3 B and 2 C grades at GCSE


Paper 1 — Exam on the core and optional themes

Higher level — 2 hrs 30 mins  40%

  • a) What is a human being? One essay 
  • b) Both optional themes —One essay on each 

Standard level — 1 hr 45 mins  50%

  • a) What is a human being? One essay
  • b) Optional theme: Ethics one essay  

Paper 2 — Exam on the text  1 hr

One essay:  25% of Standard level; 20% of Higher level 


A philosophical analysis of non- philosophical material:  1,600-2,000 words

25% of Standard level;  20% of Higher level

Paper 3 — Exam — philosophical analysis. Higher level only: 1 hr 30 mins 20%

Response to an unseen text about philosophy

Further information

This course is offered as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme, or as part of the International Baccalaureate Career-Related Programme.


The International Baccalaureate Diploma

The IB Diploma is made up of six subject groups together with a core comprising of three parts. 

Students study six subjects selected from the subject groups.  Three of these subjects are studied at higher level and the remaining three subjects are studied at standard level.  Students must choose one subject from each of groups 1 to 5.  However, instead of a group 6 subject, a candidate may select an additional subject from groups 2 to 4.

The three core requirements are the extended essay, theory of knowledge, and creativity, action, service.


The International Baccalaureate Career-Related Programme

The IB Career-Related Programme aims to provide a curriculum for students that will equip them for further education and also the world of work.  It combines the academic rigour and principles of the IB with well-established vocational qualifications and a unique ‘core’ course.

The IB Career-Related Programme is made up of:

A vocational course worth 2 A levels

Two IB subjects at standard level

A ‘core’ comprising:

·         Approaches to Learning

·         Reflective Project

·         Community in service

·         Basic language skills

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 07 October 2016
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