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Philosophy A level at Esher College

Course description

You will be introduced to the methods and aims of Philosophy through the study of traditional philosophical problems. Please note that you must enjoy reading and writing as well as being prepared to contribute to class discussions. Philosophy is intellectually challenging and very stimulating. It is guaranteed to get you thinking about things in an entirely new way.

You will learn the skill of spotting and explaining flaws in philosophical theories and arguments, and you will also be enabled to construct and develop your own arguments in support of, or against, a variety of philosophical positions. You need good written skills and will develop these further in the context of producing essays on philosophical questions.

Course content

In the first year you will be introduced to philosophical reasoning and argument and how to assess whether an argument is successful or not. You will explore how reason and experience contribute to our knowledge of the world, what our perceptions can tell us about the nature of reality as well as philosophical questions about the nature of God and whether His existence is compatible with evil in the world and how human freedom can be reconciled with an all-powerful creator.

In the second year you will deepen your expertise and understanding of Philosophy by studying Moral Philosophy which involves asking what makes an action right or wrong, what constitutes a good or bad person and whether there can be such a thing as moral truth or whether morals are relative to particular cultures and groups.

You will also study the Philosophy of Mind which investigates the nature of consciousness and whether our minds can be reduced to aspects of our physical bodies or whether they are the kind of things that cannot be subject to scientific explanation.

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement for study at Esher College is 5 GCSEs at A* - C (or 9 – 4 in Maths and English).  We encourage students to aim significantly higher than this to ensure that study programmes are successfully completed.

Aside from the general entry criteria that the College requires, you will also need to achieve at least a Grade 4 in GCSE English Language. Philosophy A Level is distinct from the material covered in GCSE Religious Studies and performance in English Literature, History and Maths GCSEs are better indicators of success in Philosophy A Level than performance in Religious Studies.

If you do not have a grade 4 in either GCSE English Language or Maths and you qualify to follow a study programme at the College, you will be required to retake one or both of these subjects in your first year.  A lack of GCSE English Language at grade 4 will significantly restrict study programme options.


Assessment is by written examination only. 

Future opportunities

Philosophy has always been seen as providing a rigorous intellectual training and is regarded as an invaluable preparation for careers in the law, the higher reaches of the Civil Service and the Diplomatic Service, jobs requiring policy formation, and work in education. Universities particularly value Philosophy for the analytical skills and the cognitive perspective on other disciplines it provides.

Further information

Please note that this subject is in the process of being reformed. The current information reflects what is known about the new course and further details will be available on the website when the specification (syllabus) has been finalised and published.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 12 October 2016
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