Exam Board & Code : Edexcel AS 8560, A2 9560
Course : 2 Years to full A level

What is Philosophy and Ethics A level about?

The course provides a critical approach to the consideration of moral and philosophical issues.  Students study the theories of philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle and Aquinas to contemporary discourse from Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins.  An integral part of the course is to apply theories to contemporary issues of abortion, euthanasia, sexual ethics, war and peace, justice, law & punishment.

Is this course for me?

Students are expected to have an interest in current affairs, to use an enquiring critical and empathetic approach to the study of religious, political and legal events and ethical developments in society. GCSE Religious Studies is not a pre-requisite for this course but you do need GCSE English, minimum grade C.

What else do I need to know?

Study days are attended at a variety of schools in the area including St Mary's School Ascot, Windsor Girls School, Eton College and Wellington College.

Students usually attend a conference in London to hear lectures by key philosophers and examiners and we have a variety of visiting speakers.

We have a summer trip to visit the site of the signing of the Magna Carta.

Students are offered the opportunity to participate in a trip to Istanbul in July.

What do other students say?

Philosophy & Ethics is a challenge but it is fun!  I have learned a lot so far.
You are allowed to voice your opinion – which is fun.  You also get to think about topics you wouldn’t normally expect to discuss in class.

Where could it lead?

RS Philosophy and Ethics is highly regarded by universities and employers as it proves that you are able to think, discuss and evaluate. It is an excellent preparation for any humanities degree.

It particularly prepares students for the following careers

  • Legal and medical services
  • Journalism and publishing
  • Education and social work
  • Broadcast, film, video and media sector
  • Politics

How is this course structured?

Unit Content Unit Assessment
AS Unit 1:  Foundations

Philosophy of Religion: The existence of God. Evil and suffering. Debates about miracles

Ethics: The relationship between religion and morality; Utilitarianism; situation ethics; war and peace; sexual ethics.

External examination: 1hr 45 minutes 50% of AS grade, 25% of full A level

AS Unit 2:  Investigations

The study of Ethics.

Students may investigate one or more of a range of issues in Medical Ethics such as abortion, genetic engineering and euthanasia in its various forms. 

External examination: 1hr 15 minutes

50% of AS grade, 25% of full A level.

A2 Unit 3: Developments

Philosophy of Religion: The existence of God. Beliefs about life after death. Religious language: analogy; myth and symbol; verification and falsification debates. 

Ethics: ethical concepts; Deontology; natural moral law; virtue ethics; selected problems in ethics; ethical language, justice, law & punishment

External examination: 1hr 45 minutes 50% of A2 grade, 25% of full A level
A2 Unit 4: Implications

Students answer a question from an anthology of philosophy studied during the year.

External examination: 1hr 15 minutes 50% of A2 grade, 25% of full A level.