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Philosophy AS/A Level at Brockenhurst College

Course description

Philosophy is a stimulating and thought-provoking course that seeks to broaden intellectual horizons. The course covers many themes, investigating theories of knowledge and mind, moral philosophy and philosophy of religion.

Profound questions are raised, such as "Should we believe all that we can see and experience?", "What is the good for man?", "Why should we do the right thing?", “Does God exist?” and “Is a human being just a material thing, or do we have minds/souls?”

As well as developing your skills of critical analysis, you will also learn to construct persuasive arguments.  As this will be a new subject for you, it is very important that you discuss your choice with one of the subject lecturers before you finalise your decision.

The type of student who succeeds in Philosophy is interested in taking on new academic challenges and expanding their vocabulary. It is suitable for students who relish a challenge, enjoy problems that require sustained thought, like discussion and can cope with the evaluation of complex concepts and ideas. 

Philosophy is a rigorous academic discipline, often difficult, but potentially rewarding.  A successful Philosophy student will enjoy reading, extending their knowledge and engaging in abstract thinking.  He/she will also enjoy exploring different opinions and ideas. 

A successful student is an excellent attendee, who works consistently hard both in lessons and independently.

Course content

The topics comprising the "AS" involve 2 themes.

  • Topic 1 Epistemology This considers whether knowledge is innate or gained through experience, the definition of knowledge and theories of perception. We will consider whether our perceptions are accurate, or whether they are undermined by illusions and hallucinations 
  • Topic 2 Philosophy of Religion In this topic we will examine arguments about the nature and existence of God, and consider whether the nature of God is incompatible with evil.

The "A2" involves the study of 2 further themes.

  • Topic 3 is The Philosophy of Mind examining the nature of mental states and the issue of consciousness. We will study Dualism, Materialism and Functionalism, and will consider whether other minds exist.
  • Topic 4 In Ethics we will look at a range of moral dilemmas such as "should animals have rights?" “Is war ever justified?” “Is it ever right to lie?”  We will examine a range of moral theories and consider questions such as "Is there such a thing as a moral fact?"

By reading, class discussion, videos and occasional visits to hear people with particular knowledge and expertise in their chosen fields. Essays play an important part in developing the skills essential to this subject. Making notes in class and from the set texts is, of course, vital!

Entry requirements

The basic requirement is 3 GCSE grades at B and above, including a B in English Language or Literature.

Provided you are able to communicate clearly and have shown the ability to understand and express a range of ideas, it does not matter which subjects you have studied at GCSE.

It is hoped that "science-based" as well as "humanities and arts-based" students will give the course serious consideration.


All units are examined. There is one AS exam worth 100% of the AS and 50% of the A Level. There is one A2 exam worth 100% of the A2 and 50% of the A Level.


Financial information

Costs: Approximately £20 will need to be spent on the purchase of essential texts.

Future opportunities

Our students have gone onto study at Oxford, Southampton and King’s College, London.

Apart from qualifying students for Higher Education, the skills derived in Philosophy A level are valued in a range of professions such as Management Consultancy, the Civil Service, the Legal profession, Social Work and Teaching.

Further information

Philosophy complements the study of other humanity based subjects.  However, it can also provide a contrast to both arts and science based subjects.

Being exam based, Philosophy works well with other courses that have coursework requirements as this helps to balance workload throughout the year.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Brockenhurst College directly.

Last updated date: 18 February 2016

Key information