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Philosophy AS & A Level at Durham Sixth Form Centre

Course description

Philosophy engages the emotions with topics such as euthanasia, God, animal rights, and then forces students to think rationally about them.

The course is designed to give an appreciation of Philosophy both as a way of understanding who we are and what sort of person we ought to be, and as a way of constructing and criticising arguments based on their logic. We assume no prior knowledge and are looking for intelligent, thoughtful people prepared to have a go; we promise to challenge and stretch you with ideas you will not find elsewhere.

Course content

AS Level themes:

  • Epistemology: How much of what we think is obvious, actually is? Why do claims like “I know how to ride a bike”, “I know that I am 16 years old on Sunday” and “I know that 1+1=2,” differ so much? When we look out at the world is it exactly as we see it, mainly as we see, utterly unlike the way we see it? This is a topic that is less about learning new things than what it is to learn, what it is to know.

A2 Level themes:

  • Philosophy of Mind: How can matter become self-aware? Why do cameras see and record the world as well as us, but do it without ever being conscious of it? What is it to be a rational, conscious human being?
  • Moral Philosophy: How should we live? How should we wage war? What is the best life for a person? The moral theories studied are applied to a range of cases: war, animal welfare, simulated killing and crime and punishment.
  • Philosophy of Religion: Is talk about a God meaningful? Can we even prove that God does/does not exist? Is the existence of God as omnipotent (all-powerful) coherent? For instance, can an all powerful God create an object so massive that an all-powerful God cannot lift it? If she can, she can’t lift it; if she can’t, she can’t make it: either way she seems not to be omnipotent! What would the consequences of divine knowledge of the future be for free will? Can a good God and a world full of suffering be made to make sense together?
    This topic differs in focus from Religious Studies, because the interest is not in God(s), but the arguments: how do philosophers try to make the unimaginable and perhaps incoherent make sense? How do they respond to challenges to their reason? There is absolutely no need to believe in God to do the course: the focus is on the argumentation and how intelligently you can follow and critique it.

Entry requirements

There are a range of courses and pathways available to you at Durham Sixth Form Centre depending on your GCSE results and academic profile. In order to enrol with us as a student, you must have the minimum of 5 A*-C GCSE grades (or equivalent). In addition, individual subjects have specific entry requirements, which will be discussed with you during the application and enrolment process. Students who do not achieve a grade C or above (or numerical equivalent) in GCSE English and/or mathematics will be required to continue studying these subjects at Durham Sixth Form Centre.

If you do not meet our entry requirements but are still keen to study at Durham Sixth Form Centre, please contact us to discuss your options.


100% examination

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Durham Sixth Form Centre directly.

Last updated date: 13 January 2017
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Key information


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    • Durham Sixth Form Centre is located in Durham City Centre next to Gala Square and Freeman’s Quay. We are a couple of minutes walk from both the bus station and the railway station. Our students enjoy having all of the city centre facilities, shops, restaurants, the city library, cinema and theatre on our doorstep. In the city itself, students find a host of lively cultural, social and educational advantages and facilities. The galleries, exhibitions, museums and book shops all play their part in enriching the student experience. A large public car-park is directly opposite and adjacent to Durham Sixth Form Centre’s main entrance.