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Philosophy and Ethics A Level OCR at Co-op Academy Priesthorpe

Course description

The Philosophy of Religion component covers a range of philosophical and theological issues and provides students with the necessary skills and knowledge to understand and assess a variety of different schools of thought, covering topics such as the existence of God, religious language, religious experience and the problem of evil and suffering. Students are assessed via essay work covering both AO1 knowledge and understanding skills and AO2 development and assessment skills.

The Ethics component involves students considering where morality comes from and how people decide what is a right and wrong action. Students will consider a range of ethical theories such as Natural Law, Utilitarianism and Situation Ethics and apply these to contemporary moral issues such as abortion, euthanasia and nuclear weapons. Ethics involves a good knowledge of current affairs and being able to contribute well to discussion. Students are assessed by essay work which considers both knowledge and evaluation of the different theorie we have studied.


The Christianity component aims to give students a good and developed understanding of the religion, studying units on religious figures and sacred texts, religious concepts about the nature or God, the Trinity and atonement, religious life of believers and practices that shape religious identity. Students are assessed via essay work covering both AO1 knowledge and understanding skills and AO2 development and assessment skills

Course content

Year 1 Philosophy

Students will develop a knowledge and understanding of the thinking of Plato and Aristotle on the Analogy of the Cave, the concept of the Forms and the Good and ideas about cause and purpose in relation to God. They will also learn about Judaeo-Christian influences on philosophy of religion, including the concept of God as Creator and the goodness of God. This is followed by studying the traditional arguments for the existence of God from Aquinas, Descartes and Paley and the related challenges to these from other thinkers. Finally students will investigate challenges to religious belief from science and the problem of evil. This is assessed in the exam, worth 50%.

Year 1 Ethics

Students will develop knowledge and understanding of various ethical concepts and viewpoints, including absolutist and relativist, objective and subjective ethical views. These will be demonstrated through studying four ethical theories: Natural Law, Kantian ethics, Classical Utilitarianism and Christian Ethics. These are then applied to four different areas of ethical issues; abortion and personhood, euthanasia and the right to life, genetic engineering and research and war and pacifism. This is assessed in the exam, worth 50%.

Students will develop the following skills throughout both sides of the  course:

•        recall, select and deploy specified knowledge;

•        identify, investigate and analyse questions and issues arising from the course of study;

•        use appropriate language and terminology in context;

•        interpret and evaluate religious concepts, issues and ideas, the relevance of arguments and the views of scholars;

•        communicate, using reasoned arguments substantiated by evidence;

•        develop the skill of making connections between.


Year 2 Philosophy


Students will study a wide variety of further philosophical concepts including the nature, meaning and use of religious language, attributes of God and what this potentially means for God’s existence, religious experiences, miracles and how this relates to our concept of the divine and concepts of life, death and the soul, including ideas surrounding resurrection and reincarnation. This is assessed in the exam, worth 50%

Year 2 Ethics


Students will deepen their understanding of ethical concepts by studying topics on meta-ethics and ethical language, freewill and determinism, the nature and role of the conscience and Aristotle’s Virtue ethics. These will then be applied to ethical issues connected with the environment and business and issues surrounding sexual ethics. This is assessed in the exam, worth 50%.


In addition to improving the skills students have developed at AS level, at A Level they will also demonstrate a wider range and greater depth of knowledge and understanding, a greater maturity of thought and expression and more developed analytical skills.

Entry requirements

Entrants to the course must have achieved at least 5 x 9-7 at GCSE subjects


Year 1 assessment is via two external, written exams of one hour and thirty minutes each.


Year 2 assessment is via two external, written exams of one hour and thirty minutes each.

Financial information


Future opportunities

Students can go on to study a wide variety of academic and vocational courses in HE with this qualification, and/ or go into a wide variety of careers in which communication skills are important, for example business, management, media, law and education

Further information

For further information on this course, speak with a member of the Religious Studies Department at school, or check the A Level specifications on the OCR website:

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: 06 October 2017
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September