Theology and Philosophy is compulsory up to Year 9. The curriculum introduces basic philosophical and theological skills and reasoning. Pupils explore religions including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism; comparing and contrasting their viewpoints on major life issues and questions.
Teachers ensure all pupils participate actively in lessons, through participation in group debates and tasks. Critical evaluation of pupils’ own key beliefs and those of others is encouraged.
Philosophy and Ethics is available as a subject option at GCSE. Pupils are inspired to challenge common beliefs held by society and use logic and reasoning to form their own opinions on topical issues.
Pupils are taught in small groups, with an emphasis on discussion and scrutiny. Topics in Year 10 include the Existence of God, Life and Death and Reason and Revelation. In Year 11, a range of pertinent social issues are investigated, such as Crime, Medical Ethics and Social Justice. Highly structured lessons encourage pupils to solve problems and find original solutions. If pupils respond to the challenge, they will find that their analysis and written communication skills are significantly enhanced.
Religious Studies (Philosophy and Ethics) is also offered as an A Level subject. The course requires pupils to consider extremely general or 'ultimate' problems, such as the existence of God, the ethical implication of decision making and the problem of evil and suffering. The study of GCSE Philosophy and Ethics or Religious Studies will provide an idea of the types of topics studied throughout the A Level, although it is not a requirement that you have a previous qualification. If Religious Studies has been studied previously, a minimum grade of a B alongside a strong performance in English Language or Literature would be expected.
The subject is very theoretical. Typically, pupils are presented with a problem in some field of human thought or endeavour, with various solutions considered and debated. Questions surrounding the credibility of the Bible will be discussed. Topics are analysed and evaluated from theistic and atheistic points of view, requiring pupils to interpret beliefs that are not necessarily their own. Conscientious, thoughtful pupils who enjoy puzzle-solving and debating are likely to take great satisfaction from studying this subject in the Sixth Form. Candidates must be intellectually agile and academically robust in order to articulate their views on various topics. Essay writing skills also become important as pupils are examined with three two hour exams. Candidates must answer two questions from each paper, from a choice of four. There is no coursework.
Many who study this A Level go on to pursue Philosophy at university. Philosophers are in high demand due to their exceptional reasoning skills and ability to argue points in a rational, intelligent and confident manner. It is a highly respected subject at university, providing a route into numerous high-powered careers. Areas were Philosophy graduates are particularly successful include legal professions, medicine, psychology and psychiatry, counselling, politics, business management, journalism, economics, artificial intelligence and international relations.