A-level Philosophy and Ethics

Board and Specification: Exam Board, AQA, DRAFT Philosophy of Religion, Religious Ethics

Staff: Miss Alison Palmer, Miss Bec Woods


Subject specific entry requirements:

  • If students have studied Religious Studies at GCSE they need to have a minimum of a B grade.
  • A B grade or higher in GCSE English.

What skills are required of students?

Religion, Philosophy and Ethics is regarded as an academic discipline and demands hard work both physically and mentally.

You do not necessarily need a religious faith for the course or to have studied the subject at GCSE, you do however need to be brave enough to ask fundamental questions and be mature enough to live with the answers.

It is a subject that seriously challenges the way you think and can therefore transform the person you are. It dares you to face the big questions in life for example:

  • Is there a God?
  • How do you know right from wrong? Is there life after death?
  • Can supernatural events really happen? Is your conscience always correct? Should there be controls on science?
  • Is war ever acceptable?
  • Where is personal and social happiness to be found?

Skills required:

  • discussion
  • preparation of presentations
  • research
  • debate
  • note-taking and problem-solving.

What the A-level is like. What kind of topics and texts are studied over the two years.

The A-level in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics comprises of 3 components:

The study of religion · Philosophy of religion · Ethics and religion
Modules, titles and codes: A-level.

Component 1: Philosophy of Religion: 50% of the total A-level. 3 hour written paper. 100 marks.

  • Challenge from science
  • Religious language
  • Nature and function of religion
  • Nature and role of religion
  • Evil and suffering
  • Sources of wisdom and authority
  • Arguments for and against the existence of God
  • Self and life after death
  • Miracles
  • Dialogue between philosophy and religion
  • God/gods/Ultimate reality
  • Life after death
  • Religious experience

Component 2: Ethics, Religion and Society: 50% of the total A-level. 3 hour written paper. 100 marks.

  • Religion and sexual identity
  • Introduction to meta ethics
  • Conscience
  • Religious pluralism
  • Ethical theories
  • Issues of human life and death
  • Free will and moral responsibility
  • Bentham and Kant
  • Dialogue between ethics and religion
  • Key moral principles
  • Religious identity
  • Issues of animal life and death

What kind of work will you do in class and at home?

  • Students will debate and discuss controversial issues that arise.
  • Essays and class discussion will be set/held on a regular basis.
  • You will have the opportunity to discuss the burning moral issues of the day.
  • Students will be given the opportunity to judge popular opinions in the light of various theories.
  • Students will read some of the writings of the greatest minds that have ever influenced mankind.
  • You will be given the chance to challenge the view of distinguished writers and others throughout the course.

What other A-levels does your subject connect well with?

Religion Philosophy and Ethics is highly respected as a subject because it develops the skill of rational and independent thought. It makes an ideal partner to most higher education courses. In particular history, English, theatre studies, sociology and psychology.
What types of university course will be helped by this A-level?

Theology is highly regarded by universities as an academic subject, encompassing many fields, including philosophy, ethics, old testament/new testament studies, world religions, church history and liberation theology. The critical skills acquired during A-level Religious Studies provide an excellent foundation for entry into social work, politics, education, sciences, journalism and business/managerial courses.