Exam Board

Additional Entry Requirements

Grade 6 in GCSE English literature and English language. Grade 5 in GCSE mathematics
Cannot be taken in combination with religious studies.

Course Content

Why philosophy?
This subject poses some of the most challenging questions that have ever been asked, underlying many of the most important questions confronting us today. It will give you the opportunity to think deeply about the nature of God, the mind, knowledge and ethics whilst allowing you to develop important transferable skills which will help you become an independent learner and thinker.
On a more practical level, studying philosophy is an excellent route into both higher education and work. Many of our students go on to study philosophy and related subjects, such as PPE, at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities, and graduates regularly feature in the top undergraduate employment rates coming above other humanities subjects because of their ability to problem solve, think logically and laterally, and to formulate and express opinions. Philosophy graduates are found working for almost every type of employer in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, particularly the law, financial institutions and the creative industries.
You’ll listen to external speakers both in college and outside at different study days, and attend lectures, exhibitions and other events in and around London.
Course content
You will study four foundational philosophical topics: ethics, epistemology, the metaphysics of the mind, and the metaphysics of God.
Students will consider the big questions, such as: ‘What is knowledge?’ and ‘What do good, bad, right and wrong really mean?’.You will also explore further questions including: ‘Is the concept of God incoherent?’ and ‘What is mind?’.
Mark scheme
Exam - 3 hours - 50%
Epistemology and moral philosophy - 100 marks
  • 5 questions, all compulsory
Exam - 3 hours - 50%
The metaphysics of the mind and the metaphysics of God - 100 marks
  • 5 questions, all compulsory

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the headings below.

What is philosophy?

Philosophy means the love of wisdom; the study of philosophy involves examining fundamental questions about the nature of reality, what makes a person, what counts as a good action or the moral status of animals.

What will I study?

The philosophy course concentrates on four key philosophical problems: can we have knowledge of the world, what is the Good in ethics, what do we mean by the mind and can we know if/that God exists.

Are there debates and discussions?

Yes plenty; class discussions are a central part of the philosophy course and you will soon become an expert at discussing the validity of philosophical arguments!

Does it involve lots of reading?

Yes, it does. You will need to be familiar with what philosophers have argued and different theories and arguments. Knowing what they have said will help you develop your own reasoning.

What can I read to get a better idea of what the subject is about?

There are some really good introductory books to philosophy which will give a good idea of the subject: we recommend Julian Baggini’s 'The pig that wants to be eaten', or Warburton’s 'A little history of philosophy'.

How many students get an offer to study philosophy at Cambridge or Oxford?

A couple of students every year get a place at Cambridge to read philosophy or theology; the college is even more successful in placing students at Oxford to read PPE or philosophy with linguistics or modern languages.

What can I do with an A level in Philosophy?

Philosophy teaches you problem solving, critical thinking and analytic skills. A lot of our students move on to study philosophy itself or law, international relations or sciences at university.
Those who choose to read philosophy at university move on to careers in the civil service, finance, journalism or do conversion courses in law.
St Albans School
“I did religious studies at GCSE and a lot of the ethical questions interested me, which is why I chose to study philosophy.
The technicality of the subject has surprised me and you have to be very precise and logical. It’s structured a lot like maths, the way you lay out an equation is similar to how you lay out an argument in philosophy.
I like that you can manage your work and shape it more to your own timetable here, but you have to make sure you’re on top of everything.”

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