What is Philosophy?

At A Level, Philosophy is about exploring the questions asked by philosophers in the past, seeing what their answers were, and assessing how they were challenged. Students will be introduced to each of the main questions and will be guided to understand the answers that have been given in the past. The aim is to build up an understanding of philosophers and their views, as well as the methods that they used to derive their answers.

How is it studied?

Philosophy is taught in small groups and covers a range of topics. Students begin with a study of epistemology, asking the fundamental question of “What is knowledge?” They explore the concept and role of perception, reason and the limits of knowledge, looking at philosophers such as Descartes, Berkeley and Leibniz. They also study moral philosophy, assessing the value of utilitarianism, deontological ethics, virtue ethics, meta-ethics and applied ethics. Arguments related to the existence of God are also explored in-depth, as are theories about what we mean by “the mind”.

How is A Level Philosophy assessed?

Unit Modules Weighting Format
1 Epistemology and Moral Philosophy 50% External Exam: 3 hours
2 The Metaphysics of God and the Metaphysics of the Mind 50% External Exam: 3 hours


Exam Board: AQA

What do I need to study it?

To do well in Philosophy, students need a probing mind that asks fundamental questions and which is able to see flaws in arguments. An ability to think abstractly is essential, along with an ability to understand and use language with subtlety and precision.

What should I study with Philosophy?

Philosophy is a unique subject, but it combines well with any other subject. Combinations with Mathematics and the sciences work well, as does any combination with the social sciences or humanities.

What can I do with Philosophy A Level?

Some students continue to study Philosophy at university either alone or in combination with Politics, Economics or History. The ability to create abstract arguments and master the precise use of argument also means that it provides a good basis for law or business-related courses. It also can support applications to the more theoretical sciences such as Physics.

Questions about the course

Is it possible to study Philosophy in one year?

Yes, but be aware that the challenging ideas Philosophy considers are hard to process in a short period of time. Having time to reflect can be beneficial.