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Sixth Form

Philosophy and Ethics - Religious Studies

The Nature of the Course

There are three areas of study: Philosophy of Religion, Developments in Christian Thought and Religious Ethics. This course develops the work from GCSE Philosophy and Ethics-RS which is taught at Stamford High School and Stamford School, but it is open to all students whether or not they have studied this subject at GCSE. The focus on human nature makes it relevant and means everybody has a contribution to make to lively discussions. We are all philosophers - we all ponder ultimate questions. The Philosophy and Christian Thought modules consider the fundamental questions of human existence and the challenges posed to religious belief. The revolutionary ideas of Plato and Aristotle form an integral part of the course. The Ethics modules cover Moral Theories, including what they have to say about human nature, as well as contemporary moral issues such as sexual ethics and medical ethics.

Special Features

This course leads to greater self-awareness and should raise the student’s understanding of the moral dimension of modern life, nurturing the student’s ability to think clearly about the philosophical questions that face mankind. According to Socrates, “an unexamined life is not worth living” while for John Stuart Mill, “It is better to be a human being unsatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates unsatisfied than a fool satisfied…” In other words, to be fully human we must keep learning as part of our attempt to understand what it means to be a human.

Skills Demanded and Developed

Whether or not students have followed a related GCSE course, they can take A Level Philosophy and Ethics. Potential students should have inquiring minds, the ability to discuss complex ideas and to write balanced academic essays. There is a clear need to understand different points of view and to evaluate these by engaging in clear reasoned arguments.

This course is assessed by examination only and not by coursework. The majority of homework tasks involve writing essays of about 900 words. The questions set require students to focus carefully and organise their ideas thoroughly. Well-structured essays are a useful revision tool and help to clarify ideas in the students’ minds.

Year 13 students are encouraged to read more widely outside of timetabled lessons. We provide the following texts which students read to supplement their understanding of the specification’s key philosophers’ arguments: Plato-The Republic; Descartes-Meditations; Hobbes- Leviathan; Hume-An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding; Mill-On Liberty; Nietzsche- Beyond Good and Evil.

Careers and Higher Education Implications

This A Level is a good preparation for any Arts degree and is very highly regarded. At SES this subject is studied alongside a wide range of subjects. Students who have taken this course and who are now studying Medicine found that it complemented their work in the sciences; it provided them with insights into human nature, medical ethics and the nature of the world around them. This subject offers valuable insights for potential lawyers and for any career which involves working with people.

Strong A-Level Combinations

Possible Further Study and Degree Courses

Philosophy and Ethics & Sciences Medicine Philosophy: including Philosophy Science/Physics/Chemistry/Biology
Philosophy and Ethics & Social Sciences

Business Studies, Management Politics: Psychology (Joint Philosophy and PPE)

Philosophy and Ethics & Arts

Psychology (Joint Politics and Philosophy), English, History, Modern Languages, Law
Religious Studies and Theology.  

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