Philosophy at The Sixth Form College Farnborough
In Philosophy we aim to think about big questions carefully, and attempt to develop good reasons for holding one particular view rather than another. It is a subject that can be usefully divided into six major branches:
- Logic - how do we/should we think, and what makes something a rational argument?
- Metaphysics - what kinds of things exist, and what are they like: e.g. does God exist?
- Epistemology - what can we know, and how do we know it: e.g. can I know that other people have minds like mine?
- Ethics - how should I live; what makes something wrong, if anything is wrong; e.g. is polygamy wrong?
- Political Philosophy – e.g. should there be a state in control of parts of my life, and, if so, how much control?
- Aesthetics – e.g. what makes a work of art a good work of art? How can I be moved to tears by characters in a novel, when I know full well that they don’t exist?
As you might expect, lessons are thought provoking and lively. Difficult issues are presented in a clear and stimulating way (often using challenging stimulus readings) and the rest of the time is spent debating the issues as a class or in small groups, as well as attempting to express and evaluate these ideas and arguments on paper.
You will have a chance to learn about several of the areas of Philosophy explained above at an introductory level. Here are some questions that you will be able to consider:
- Philosophy of Religion (e.g. what is God, and does the idea of a God even make sense? Can we know just by thinking about it that God exists? Is His existence as certain as ‘2 + 2 = 4’?)
- Epistemology (e.g. can we be sure that what we experience is not just an illusion or a dream? Are we born with any ideas in our mind or are we just a blank slate? Do we see the world the way it really is, or is the real world in some way hidden from us? A tennis ball is both round and green – how are these properties different? What is knowledge and how is it different from belief?)
- Philosophy of Mind (e.g. is the mind physical? Could robots have minds? Can we know that other minds exist?)
- Ethics/metaethics (e.g. should we decide what to do based on the consequences? Are there any facts about what is right and wrong? Is simulated killing in a film/computer game morally wrong?)
Philosophy is not a subject that is offered at GCSE so everyone begins the course from the same starting point. You should have at least a grade C in GCSE English Language or Literature and Mathematics. A good potential philosophy student will most likely be someone who can think logically and objectively, can read and write carefully and critically, and has a willingness to contribute to debate.
Each unit will be assessed by an examination in which you will need to demonstrate:
(a) your understanding of various philosophical concepts, views and arguments
(b) your ability to analyse and evaluate these philosophical arguments in order to form reasoned judgements of your own.
The skills you develop in Philosophy are useful in a wide variety of situations. Many students from the College go on to study Philosophy at degree level, and people who study Philosophy go on to apply their philosophical skills in jobs as diverse as the law, computer programming, management consultancy, film making, journalism, medicine, and all areas in which clarity of thought and expression are essential.
Current students are finding that when they go for university interviews, Philosophy has been a major talking point. It is certainly regarded as a valid entrance qualification by universities.
What other subjects could I do with Philosophy?
Philosophy complements and enhances any other area of study.
How to apply
If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Sixth Form College Farnborough directly.