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Philosophy & Ethics (Religion)

Philosophy, Ethics and Buddhism provides a critical approach to the consideration of moral and philosophical issues. Philosophy asks big questions about the nature of reality questions such as: ‘Why is there suffering in the world?’ and ‘What is the nature of truth?’  Students study both ancient and modern philosophers to help explore these questions.  Ethics is the study of morality and looks at what it the right and wrong way to act. We relate ethical theories, both secular and religious, to real life issues within Euthanasia, Business and Sexual Ethics. The study of Buddhism, often completely new to our students, provides a totally different perspective on life. We explore the nature of the soul and the cause of suffering as well as assessing the benefits of meditation.
This course would suit students who have an interest in current affairs, enjoy listening to different points of view and thinking deeply about life. The course is essay based so students will complete regular essays! You do not need to have studied GCSE Religious Studies in order to study this course but if you enjoyed Religious studies at school this could be a good course for you to consider.

In the first year you will study:

  • Ancient Philosophical influences (Plato and Aristotle)
  • Soul, mind and body
  • Arguments for the existence of God
  • The problem of evil


  • Religious ethical theories (Natural law and situation ethics)
  • Secular ethical theories (Utilitarianism and Kantian ethics)
  • Euthanasia
  • Business ethics


  • The Buddha’s life
  • Religious practices and teachings
  • The importance of meditation

In the second year you will study:


  • Religious language
  • Attributes of God


  • Meta ethics
  • Conscience
  • Sexual ethics


  • Different development within Buddhism (E.g. Zen Buddhism)
  • Buddhism in the west
  • Engaged Buddhism and social activism
  • Buddhism and gender


What will I be taught?

This course is mainly taught by exploring deep questions together. From the start of the course students are encouraged to question and look at a range of different perspectives on life. Sometimes flipped learning approaches are used so that students are asked to research a topic before class, allowing them to take responsibility for their own learning, and class time will be used to evaluate and apply this knowledge. Flipped learning is not the only approach though; sometimes new ideas are explored in class together allowing students to respond more spontaneously and without any previous knowledge. This helps develop critical thinking skills and helps them to think about philosophical problems on a deeper level and home work time can then be used to build on class knowledge or complete essay assignments.

Classroom activities will include:

  • Knowledge based tests
  • Essay based assessments
  • Interactive online quizzes
  • group work
  • student led sessions

Based on research into how students learn best, each subject will set independent work to allow you to recap what you have done in the past, consolidate understanding for what you are studying in the present and develop the skills and experiences which will help you for the future. You can read more about the college’s approach to independent study here

The Past
Click here for the suggested ongoing revision activities in this subject which research has shown are most likely to boost your achievement

The Present
Each subject will set weekly homework tasks to help you consolidate your understanding and prepare for your next lesson. This work is typically set through Microsoft Teams, so you will have an electronic log of all your work, notes and feedback.

The Future
A key part of your independent work in this subject will be to prepare for a range of potential jobs and higher education courses when you leave us. To get started, look below at the top higher education courses and jobs which previous students of this course have gone on to do.

As part of a wider programme this course provides an excellent basis for progression to many careers or university courses. Former students of this college have gone on to study Philosophy and Theology, but also a very wide range of other degrees. The subject 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

5 x GCSE grades 4-9 (incl. English Language)

Additional Requirements

5 in English Language
4 in Mathematics
5 in one other essay based subject from this list: English Lit, History, Religious Studies, Geography

Not essential but it will help your success…

An interest in delving into bigger and deeper questions about humanity is essential. You should also be prepared to read and write critically and engage with and evaluate some dense philosophical and theological ideas.

Pairs well with many other A levels which require extended writing and critical thinking including English Language/Linguistics, History, Ancient History, Law, and Sociology.

Teaching contact time is 4 hours and 20 minutes per subject. Other workshops will be available throughout the year including over some holiday periods. Students are expected to complete up to 4 hours of independent study to complete assignments, homework, extra reading and independent research.


100% exam

3 exams:

  • Philosophy 33.33%
  • Ethics 33.33%
  • Buddhism 33.33%

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