Course Leader:                 Mr Hempel

Contact Email:      

GCSE Philosophy


Examination Board:       AQA

Assessment:                     100% external examination

What does the course involve?

Students will be following the AQA GCSE ‘Religious Studies A’ specification (Route A)

This consists of two components:

  • Component 1 is the study of two religions’ beliefs, practices and teachings. Students will study Christianity and Islam.
  • Component 2 is the thematic study of four religious, philosophical and ethical themes.

Students will take themes A-D:

  • Theme A: Relationships and families: This topical, current affairs unit  will involve students learning about different societal attitudes, nonreligious and religious views on sex, marriage, family, contraception, divorce and gender equality.
  • Theme B: Religion and Life: In this unit students will reflect on the origins and values of the universe. They will explore a range of intriguing ultimate question; spanning such philosophical areas as the origins of the universe and the question of our role in the world, to the environment around us and the question of the rights of animals. The second strand of this topic covers areas of medical ethics including euthanasia and abortion as well as the origins of the human race.
  • Theme C: The Existence of God: This unit involves stimulating debate and analysis of a range of different philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God-including the argument from design, the argument from miracles and religious experiences as well as atheistic arguments such as the Problem of evil and suffering and scientific theories used to challenge the existence of God.
  • Theme D: Religion, Peace and Conflict: This unit explores conflict in the 21st century. Students will study the views of pacifism, various religious teachings on conflict, peace and justice; as well as the issues of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and helping victims of warfare.

There are two 1 hour 45 minute examinations.

Skills developed

GCSE Philosophy will see you develop your communication skills through extensive debating. The ability to listen, have empathy for others, express your opinions and consider the viewpoints of others will all be key skills as you learn more in this subject. This subject will also develop your skills as a critical and abstract thinker, your ability to write persuasively and with analytical detail.

Please also visit Mr Hempel’s Philosophy Website

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A-Level Philosophy


Examination Board:    OCR

Specification:                AS, H173 A and A2, H573 A

 What Will I Study?

1: Philosophy of Religion

  • Arguments about the existence or non-existence of God
  • What is a ‘Religious Experience’ and how may it affect a person?
  • How may evil and suffering challenge Religious Belief?
  • The nature of the soul, mind and body
  • The possibility of whether there is a life after death

2: Ethics

  • Different forms of ethical theories on how to determine how we should act.
  • Applying these ethical theories to two contemporary issues of importance
  • Reflecting on ethical language and thought.

3: Developments in Religious Thought, within Christianity

  • Religious beliefs, values and teachings, their interconnections and how they vary historically and in the contemporary world
  • Sources of religious wisdom and authority
  • Practices which shape and express religious identity, and how these vary within a tradition.

In addition to continuing their studies on the topics listed in the AS Course outline A2 students will further their studies to include:

1: Philosophy of Religion

  • Ideas about the nature of God
  • Issues in the meaning and use of Religious Language.

2: Ethics

  • Debates surrounding the significant ideas of conscience and free will
  • The influence on ethical thought of developments in religious beliefs and the philosophy of religion

3: Developments of Religious Thought Within Christianity

  • Practices which shape and express religious identity, and how these vary within a tradition
  • Significant social and historical developments in theology and religious thought
  • Key themes related to the relationship between religion and society.

Entry Requirements

Students require at least 5 A*-C GCSEs (Equivalent to five Grade 9-4). A grade B or above in Philosophy is also recommended.


Three one hour externally assessed exams. Each exam is marked out of 30 and contributes third of the final grade.

Where Next?

It is a fully recognised qualification by all universities. A Level Philosophy and Ethics links well to future undergraduate courses, such as: Law, Psychology, Education, Philosophy, Literature, Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) – to name just a few. As a stand-alone qualification it is particularly useful for students considering future careers in Law, Medicine, Public Services, the Police, NHS, Teaching and the Armed Services.

Please note

Philosophy & Ethics will stimulate and challenge you. It is an excellent choice for students who have lots of opinions, are able to express them and are thoughtful, and critical, of views that they may disagree with. Current Full Course students of Philosophy are strongly recommended to pursue the subject further by taking this A level.

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