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Philosophy A level at Shenfield High School

Course description

The A Level Philosophy provides students with the opportunity to develop analytical thinking skills which are essential for many forms of study and future careers. The course will provide students with the chance to investigate important life questions and examine different interpretations, values and beliefs.

The course continues some themes developed in GCSE Religious Studies, but is a new subject which requires a new way of thinking. During Year 11 pupils will be offered a taster lesson and students should visit the department to check they understand the subject in order to make their decision.

The course has been designed to:

  • Enable students to develop the key study and critical assessment skills that are required at undergraduate level
  • Provide a means with which students can problem solve in an engaging environment
  • Enable pupils to show their ability to develop a line of argument
  • Allow pupils to develop skills of empathy and self-development
  • Create a brand new way of approaching the knowledge we have of the world around us

Course content

Modules that will be studied include:

  • Epistomology – the quest for knowledge and our perception of the world. How do we justify our knowledge? Do we trust our sensory perceptions? How much proof do we need to believe something?
  • Philosophy of Religion – what are the characteristics of God? How do we know God? Arguments and Proofs, Does our language enable us to talk about God?
  • Ethical theories – the philosophy behind our ethical decision making, what we mean when we say “do the right thing”
  • Philosophy of Mind – the relationship between body and soul, functionalism and behaviourism
  • The course also requires candidates to complete extension reading, the board supply a list of pieces including primary source material from famous philosophers

Entry requirements

B, or preferably A grade at GCSE Religious Studies. (Where pupils have not previously studied the subject for GCSE, they will be considered and admitted on an individual basis) B grade or higher at GCSE English Language.


The A Level qualification is currently still assessed through separate AS and A2 exams. At the end of Year 12, pupils sit a three hour examination which will count for 50% of the final grade. This is followed by the same pattern at the end of A2. The examination consists of testing both knowledge and understanding and evaluation skills on the topics studied. There is a combination of short answer content based questions with longer essay skills where the examiner would be looking to see evaluation and analysis skills.

Future opportunities

At the end of this course, students may choose to study a degree at a Higher Education institution and Philosophy has traditionally been very well received by university admissions tutors. Employers would also value this course, should students choose to pursue employment at 18 because of the sophisticated thinking skills that it develops within students.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Shenfield High School directly.

Last updated date: 14 October 2016

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years