The aim of A Level Philosophy, Religion and Ethics is to gain a new way of thinking about big questions that have affected humanity throughout our history. Students are encouraged to analyse logical arguments and develop their critical thinking by challenging premises and offering alternative explanations. Philosophy means the love of wisdom and students will explore the wisdom of philosophers from Socrates to Sartre. Attention is focussed on improving students’ ability to present a coherent and persuasive argument. Students will also have the opportunity to study one religion in greater depth.
Summary of course content
Students will be studying the following three components:
• A study of a religion
• Philosophy of religion
• Religion and Ethics
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All three components will be taught from a Christian perspective with aspects of other faiths being covered in the syllabus where relevant to the specification. This is a new and exciting syllabus that we believe will fire up students’ interest in the great religious, philosophical and ethical questions that affect our lives.
A study of religion includes:
• The birth and death of Jesus; issues regarding his divinity
• The concept of authority; the Bible, early church fathers and the papacy
• The Trinity
• Is God male? Feminist views on the nature of God
• Significant social and historical developments in Christianity
• Faith and works
Philosophy of religion includes:
• Arguments for the existence of God: the Cosmological argument, the Teleological argument and Ontological argument
• The problem of evil: Augustinian Theodicy and Irenaean Theodicy
• Challenges to religious belief from science: Freud and Jung
• The rise of atheism
• Religious experience: mystical experiences, conversion and prayer
• Religious language: symbolism, mythology, analogy and cognitive and non-cognitive language.
A study of ethics includes:
• Ethical language and thought: divine command theory, virtue ethics and ethical egoism
• Deontological ethics: natural law and proportionalism
• Teleological ethics: situation ethics and utilitarianism
• Freewill and determination: predestination, Libertarianism and Hard and Soft determinism.
Students will be undertaking a two year linear course with three two hour exam papers, one per component.
Where the course leads
A qualification in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics is an asset in many career paths. Any student wishing to follow a career that involves interaction with the public would benefit from taking this course; for example, it would be valuable in the fields of health care, social care and the police force. Many of the world’s leaders have studied philosophy, religion and ethics; this topic permeates every aspect of life. Many authors, comedians and musicians have studied theology or philosophy at university. Religious studies develops the skills of critical thinking, analysis, debate and empathy which will be relevant to many career paths.
Special entry requirements
A lively and enquiring mind and the willingness to evaluate your ideas is essential. The A Level exam is assessed solely through written examinations so it is vital that your essay writing skills are good. Much of the subject is taught through discussions, so enthusiasm to participate in class debates is useful. It is not essential for students to have completed RE at GCSE.