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Philosophy at Queen Mary's Grammar School

Course description

Epistemology is the theory of knowledge, and it studies the problems and ideas associated with human understanding of themselves and the world they occupy. The unit is divided into the following areas:
Perception. Here we ask, „what are the immediate objects of perception?‟ and study competing theories that evolve from the problem of perception. When humans perceive something, perhaps in their visual sense, do we perceive objects, like trees and dogs and cars, directly? It seems that we do not, that we only are directly aware of some kind of representation of an object. And now the problem is how do we move beyond perceiving something to knowing that there really is something outside us, beyond the images and tokens we receive?

What is Knowledge? Here we are concerned to discover what it is to know something and how we know that we know it. How, for example, do you move from merely believing that something is the case to knowing it? What conditions must be satisfied to say with certainty that you do know something? We explore the requirements of logic, evidence and doubt in order to overcome the challenges of scepticism that says we cannot truly ever know anything at all.
The Origin of Concepts. Where do you get your ideas from? Take your concept of a tree: where did you acquire it and how did this happen? Some would say your mind is
tabula rasa, a clean slate waiting to have ideas impressed upon it by sense perception or the intellect. But not all concepts can come to us in this way: what of our concepts of God, of numerical equality, of causality? Others argue we are born with innate knowledge, knowledge of logic, our selves, or language. Within this study we encounter the perplexing world of conceptual schemes, the theory that there is no mind-independent world, there is only the world as our minds construct it for us.

Entry requirements

You will need at least 7 B grades at GCSE* (including English and Maths). We normally expect at least a grade A (A* for Further Maths) in subjects which you wish to pursue at A level. 


Two 3 hour written examinations on the following topics:
  • Epistemology (the Theory of Knowledge)
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Ethics
  • Philosophy of Mind

Future opportunities

The subject is extremely useful if you wish to pursue a career in anything that aims for the truth, such as journalism, law and politics. The skills you acquire set you apart for your immense lucidity, persuasiveness and critical clarity. Many philosophy students go on to read PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) or HSPS (Human, Social and Political Science), and Law. The subject, however, is especially useful for any degree course, since it shows the candidate is a broad thinker, who can analyse and theorise with clarity, originality and accuracy.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Queen Mary's Grammar School directly.

Last updated date: 13 September 2016
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