Philosophy (AQA)

A level Philosophy offers you the opportunity to grapple with complex issues, analyse strengths and weaknesses of different arguments and formulate your own conclusions. Our philosophy library has a wide selection of books on the A level curriculum and beyond to support students’ independent reading.

Topics studied

The course consists of four areas:

Topic 1: Epistemology

  • What is knowledge? The tripartite view
  • Perception as a source of knowledge: direct realism, indirect realism, Berkeley’s idealism
  • Reason as a source of knowledge: innatism, the intuition and deduction thesis
  • The limits of knowledge: philosophical scepticism

Topic 2: Moral philosophy

  • Normative ethical theories: utilitarianism, Kantian deontological ethics, Aristotelian virtue ethics
  • Applied ethics: the aforementioned normative ethical theories applied to the issues of stealing, simulated killing (within computer games, plays, films, etc), eating animals, telling lies
  • Meta-ethics: moral realism, moral anti-realism

Topic 3: Metaphysics of God

  • The concept and nature of ‘God’: attributes of ‘God’, competing views on such a being in time, arguments for the incoherence of the concept of ‘God’
  • Arguments relating to the existence of ‘God’: ontological arguments, teleological/design arguments, cosmological arguments
  • The problem of evil: the nature of moral and natural evil, the logical and evidential forms of the problem of evil, the free will defence, soul-making
  • Religious language: cognitivism and non-cognitivism, verification and falsification, eschatological verification, the ‘university debates’

Topic 4: Metaphysics of Mind

  • What do we mean by ‘mind’?
  • Dualist theories: substance dualism, property dualism
  • Physicalist theories: physicalism, mind-brain type identity theory, eliminative materialism
  • Functionalism: multiple realisability of mental states, inverted qualia, Ned Block’s China thought experiment, the ‘knowledge’/Mary argument


A*–A in A level Philosophy in 2023


A*–B in A level Philosophy in 2023

“I really enjoy the breadth that philosophy provides to the other subjects that I take as they are all science based. It’s really refreshing to have a lesson where I can discuss things and exercise different sides of my thinking as well as more analytical skills."
“I chose philosophy because I like thinking about things. My favourite aspect of the subject is the class discussions. Listening to other people’s points and arguing with them always make the lessons are fun and interesting. I also love how it is such a broad subject."

Academic enrichment

A range of lectures are provided to broaden and deepen your knowledge and understanding beyond the standard curriculum. You will be encouraged to enter the department’s termly philosophy essay competition as well as external competitions, and also have the opportunity to debate philosophical topics with younger students in the weekly Philosophy Society.

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