A Level Philosophy & Ethics

History, Philosophy and Theology

History, Philosophy and Theology
History, Philosophy and Theology

What will you be working towards?

Alternative Title A Level Philosophy & Ethics
Code ALPl
Qualification Type GCE A/AS Level or Equivalent
Qualification Level Level 3
Course type Full Time


People enjoy philosophy and do well at it from all sorts of backgrounds and mental approaches: arts, maths, humanities, sciences. You may love precision; you may love opening up of the mind to see in a different way; you may love constructive arguing; you may love refusing to accept things just because someone tells you/on authority/just because others do. Any of these can be your entry point into the subject. The abilities and capacities which will serve you best are things like tenacity and clarity of thought, willingness to listen and to try to understand, concentration and focus. Everyone starts from scratch, so you do not need any particular GCSEs. Clear expression is essential to Philosophy, so having done well in an essay subject helps. The ability to be precise is necessary, so doing well in subjects that required exact learning is a good preparation.


You will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the content, including through the use of philosophical analysis (conceptual analysis and argument analysis). You must also be able to analyse and evaluate the philosophical arguments within the subject content to form reasoned judgements. In doing this, you will: understand the ways in which philosophers have analysed the core concepts of philosophy, and be able to identify how subtle differences in analyses can have wider impacts on philosophical arguments understand the main philosophical arguments within topics, through the works of philosophers, and articulate those arguments in appropriate forms, correctly, clearly and precisely understand the philosophical claims which are made within each topic and be able to articulate those claims correctly, clearly and precisely. Students must also articulate how those claims might relate to other topic areas understand the ways in which philosophical arguments are developed, issues are raised, and arguments are reformulated in response to those issues understand the similarities and differences between the forms of reasoning used in different philosophical content areas, including the similarities and differences between different kinds of knowledge generate responses using appropriate philosophical formats, to a range of philosophical questions. These responses must include: articulating definitions; articulating arguments and counter-arguments; and selecting, applying and evaluating appropriate material to generate their own arguments.

How will it be delivered?

A Level Philosophy & Ethics works mainly by getting you to do a lot of thinking. There is learning of material, but you are learning new ideas, and to learn a new idea is not just to become acquainted with it and remember it, but to think about it until you truly understand and can employ it. This goal-driven thinking will typically happen in four or five different ways. Getting a grasp on what the ideas are at all and their place in the debate will probably happen through listening to an explanation perhaps in dialogue and through reading. Discussion and debate help you clarify and evaluate your grasp of concepts and of arguments (on both sides). Even more important is the extended period of thinking on your own, in which you go over and over an idea until you have the sort of complete and lucid insight into it that enables effective use of it. Finally, writing about an idea clarifies your thinking as well as expressing it, forcing you to think how precision can be achieved, and to come to some conclusions about the issues.

Paper 1: Epistemology and moral philosophy is a written exam lasting 3 hours and worth 50% of A-level. Each section contains 5 questions, Section A covering epistemology and Section B covering moral philosophy.

Paper 2: The metaphysics of God and the metaphysics of mind again consists of a 3 hour written exam worth 50% of the A Level, broken down into two sections, each containing 5 questions.

  • Section A: The metaphysics of God and
  • Section B: The metaphysics of mind.

Entry requirements

At least 5 GCSE Grades 9 - 4 to include Maths; and Grade 5 or above in all English subjects entered.

Your next steps...

Philosophy & Ethics will be an ideal preparation for going on to study philosophy further. It is also an excellent A-level to take if you simply want to understand the key concepts and themes of philosophy and develop your ability to think critically. Philosophy & Ethics will also compliment other A levels like Sociology, History and Psychology.