Advanced Subsidiary/Advanced Level

In a Philosophy lesson you will find yourself discussing a wide range of issues. How can you be certain you have knowledge of the tree blowing around in the wind outside the classroom? Do you behave morally, or are we driven by self-interest? Is Damien Hirst’s work significant art, or simply a clever scam perpetrated for gain?

Philosophy has always had these different aspects, and the course reflects this diversity, encouraging an interest in epistemology (questions concerning the nature of knowledge), ethics or tolerance, (considerations of what is involved in acting in right or wrong ways, or why it is important to be tolerant of others), and aesthetics (issues raised by making judgments about art, be this pictorial, music, or literature).

Student Comments

"It makes you think about things in a completely different way."
"It’s interesting because it’s not about anything physical – it can be challenging and abstract."
"It’s great to learn together and learn from each other."

Entry Requirements

To sit Philosophy, it is helpful to have as high a GCSE English grade as possible, preferably a grade B, as it is important to be able to express yourself in a precise, organised, and effective way. Philosophy allows for real exploration during discussion and thinking through issues, but it also requires accuracy of thought and writing to make the most of your ideas.

Course Content

The AQA course is modular, with two units in each year, and a clear progression over the course as elements from year 12 add a layer of understanding to new topics in year 13.

Course Structure

AS Level – (Y12) A Level – (Y13)
Unit 1 Unit 3
Reason and Experience  Key themes in Philosophy (e.g. epistemology)
Why should I be Moral?  
Unit 2 Unit 4
The value of Art Philosophical Problems
Tolerance (based on a text e.g. Descartes’ Meditations)


Assessment - all written examinations

AS level A level
Unit 1 - 1½ hours Unit 3 - 2 hours
Unit 2 - 1½ hours Unit 3 - 2 hours


Career and Higher Education Opportunities

Philosophy is a challenging, and highly regarded, A level. It develops thinking skills which can be applied in a very wide variety of careers, and which are ideally suited to the demands of a work place in which people are required increasingly to respond to changing information, situations and demands. You will learn how to think critically, evaluate arguments and construct your own view. Skills in reasoning will allow you to navigate a changing world. Alongside this, study of philosophy will allow you to develop as a person, because it will allow you to explore questions which have continued to intrigue people over the centuries, and also because it will allow you to feel you know how to explore and develop your own responses to complex issues of any kind.

Further Information

The School's Main Prospectus and Sixth Form Prospectus can both be downloaded from the Quick Links menu at the top on the right. Should you require any additional information relating to the curriculum please use our contact information to make an enquiry.

Recommended text books, revision guides and reference books

Philosophy A Level – years 12 and 13

Year 12  AQA A-level Philosophy Year 1 and AS: Epistemology and Moral Philosophy

by Jeremy Hayward (Author), Gerald Jones

  • Publisher: Hodder Education (30 Jun. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1510400257
  • ISBN-13: 978-1510400252

AQA A-level Philosophy Year 2: Metaphysics of God and metaphysics of mind

  • Publisher: Hodder Education (29 Mar. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781510400269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1510400269
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