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Philosophy A level at Lansdowne College

Course description

The course addresses a multitude of fascinating key questions, such as who are we and what is the self? Can we separate the mind from the body? What is truth? What is right and wrong? What does it mean to be good?

Philosophy is the original academic discipline tracing its beginnings to Pre-Socratic times, more than 2,500 years ago. It involves reflection on and analysis of the central concepts in science and culture, including knowledge, truth, the self and religion, often generating more questions than answers.

Philosophy includes analysing the concept of uncertainty, the (im)possibility of knowledge about the world and ourselves, the universality of reason, the nature of mind and consciousness, the definition of religion and the existence of God, the possibility of refuting scepticism, the question of truth and relativism, and the history and development of these questions and their answers.

The study of philosophy is as much about its method as it is about its subject matter. Students are introduced to the logical and conceptual analysis of arguments and learn to construct them. Clarity of thought and expression are key skills in philosophy and much emphasis is placed on helping students to acquire them.

Course content



  • What does it mean to know?
  • What is the difference between knowing how to tie a shoelace, knowing our friends and knowing that we are reading this?
  • Are we born with knowledge or are all ideas and knowledge sourced from the world around us? Is there an external world?

Philosophy of Religion

  • How might we define God?
  • How can God be all powerful and all good and yet allow suffering in the world?
  • Can we prove God through the use of reason alone?
  • Does Descartes manage to prove God?
  • What does it even mean to talk about God?


  • How do we decide what is morally right to do?
  • What does it mean to seek the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people and why might we do this?
  • Is it possible to formulate a universal moral principle?
  • What does it mean to be a virtuous person according to Aristotle?
  • How should we go about discussing ethical issues such as the treatment of animals, war or artificial intelligence?
  • What kind of language should we use to discuss ethics?

Philosophy of Mind

  • What is the relationship between the mind and the body?
  • Could the mind exist without the body?
  • Is the mind actually just a part of the body, indistinguishable from the physical?
  • How do we know whether anyone else is thinking?
  • Can a machine think?
  • What would it take for us to be fooled into believing a robot had consciousness?


AS – 1 exam (1 x 3hrs) comprising a mixture of short answer questions and essay-based papers.

A2 – 1 exam (1 x 3hrs) comprising a mixture of short answer questions and essay-based papers.

Future opportunities

Philosophy intersects with academic disciplines such as Psychology, Sociology, Government and Politics, Religious Studies, Economics, History, Classical Civilisation, Mathematics, Physics, Art and Design.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 15 August 2016

Key information