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Religion, Philosophy and Ethics A level at The Corsham School

Course description

This course covers three main strands: Buddhism, Ethics and Philosophy. Students study different ideas of morality as well as investigating the ethics of current ‘life and death’ issues. They also explore Buddhist concepts and practice and gain insight into how believers apply ethics to modern life.

  • Is it possible to tell if this world is real or just a virtual reality we might be trapped in - perhaps there’s something more than this? 
  • Is it right to: test medical drugs on animals or human guinea pigs? eat meat? sacrifice one person to save many lives?

If you’re drawn to finding out more about life, the universe and everything, and are interested in how we can make moral decisions in today’s complex and multicultural world, this could be a subject you connect with.

We look at ideas around reality and ethics from two global perspectives: the Western philosophical and religious traditions, and the Asian tradition of Buddhism. This give students a wide, varied and interesting set of views to explore, as we investigate ideas from around the world of ‘what it means to be human’.


Course content

(Only A Level students do content in bold, in Year 13)

Paper 1: Buddhism & Philosophy


  • Buddhism and ideas of samsara (our every day reality) and how to escape it
  •  Buddhist ideas of life after death: Rebirth and past lives
  •  Sources of authority: Texts and the Buddha’s teachings on meditation and working it our for yourself
  •  The challenge from science: How close or far apart are Buddhism and physics, quantum physics and neurology?
  •  The nature and role of religion in modern Buddhist’s lives

 Philosophy of Religion

  • Philosophical arguments for and against the existence of  God e.g. The Problem of Evil
  • Religious Experience & Religious Language: Using the world beyond the senses to explain religion
  • Miracles and visions - how are these explained and challenged?
  • Death and the afterlife - philosophical positions

Paper 2: Buddhism & Ethics

Buddhist Ethics

  •  Key moral principles of Buddhism
  •  Religious Identity - how are Buddhist from different times and cultures different?
  •  Religion and Sexual Identity - Buddhist view of relationships
  •  Religious Pluralism - Buddhist responses to other approaches to truth

Society & Ethics

  • Different ethical systems: Deontological, Teleological and Character-based
  • How these ethical systems approach modern dilemmas around (a) human and (b) animal life
  • Introduction to meta-ethics-how can we explain good and evil?
  • Free will and responsibility; Conscience - How far are we moral agents?
  • Bentham (Act Utilitarianism) and kant (Deontological ethics)



Entry requirements

5 or more GCSEs Grade C or above, including English Language and Religious Studies


AS: Two terminal papers (1¾ hours each) at the end of Year 12.

A Level: Two terminal papers (3 hours each) at the end of Year 13.

Future opportunities

Careers Link: Medical / Scientific Research (ethics of medical development and research); Social Sector (Study of different cultures within the UK) Key Skills: empathy, problem-solving, written/oral communication and critical analysis.

Related Degrees: Philosophy, Theology, World Religions, Anthropology, Sociology, Politics, Law, Medicine.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Corsham School directly.

Last updated date: 06 November 2017

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