Examination Board AQA
Pupils are evidently drawn to the compelling and profound nature of the questions that Philosophy raises. These include: How can I be sure that anything really exists? Am I free? Why should I be governed? Does God exist? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Why should I be moral? Such matters have pre-occupied the finest minds since the dawn of civilisation, and, although few philosophy students are rewarded for their hard work with certainty concerning them, far fewer regret having tackled them in the first place. This is partly because, with Philosophy (and perhaps only with Philosophy), one’s method is more important than the conclusions that one reaches. Philosophers take nothing on trust and are notoriously fastidious – some would say pedantic – when it comes to making their meaning clear and justifying every step in an argument. Accordingly, students will need patience and diligence as well as the capacity to think both abstractly and logically. The ability to transfer one’s thoughts onto paper in a lucid and succinct fashion is, given that assessment is entirely by timed written examination, crucial.
However, despite the demands of the subject being significant, there is no one GCSE subject that is essential in preparation for studying A-level Philosophy.
Many who are unfamiliar with Philosophy wonder how such an apparently abstruse subject can be of much value beyond academia. The answer is that Philosophy practises skills of analysis, argument, evaluation and reasoning to levels arguably unsurpassed in any other subject and that these are skills which are among those most highly prized by universities and employers alike. As an A-level, it complements all other subjects; after all, there is a Philosophy of Art as much as there is a Philosophy of Mathematics. The AQA syllabus covers an impressively wide range of topics within this broadest of disciplines, yet without sacrificing depth in the process, and I commend it wholeheartedly.
Examination Board OCR
Is there such a thing as right and wrong? What happens when I die? Why might a good God allow evil in the world?These are all questions that are tackled head-on in the Religious Studies A-level course, as well as more practical questions such as ‘What is the ethical way to run a business?’ and ‘What is the correct response to global warming?’
A-level RS is not a preparation for the religious life. Rather, it is a stringent academic subject that will encourage you to write in an orderly and lucid way, help you to understand and evaluate complex critical theories and develop your sensitivity to the variety of factors influencing religious thought and practice.
These skills will be of value in any future career and will demonstrate to future employers and university interviewers a high level of academic competence.
The GCSE Short Course in RS is a good basis for the AS course, so it is a subject that all girls might like to consider. Although personal religious commitment is not required, a willingness to read some difficult source material when researching essays is essential. Students must be ready to explore new ideas, to have their beliefs and preconceptions challenged and to consider many viewpoints.
Students taking RS have combined it with almost every other subject and have gone on to a wide range of undergraduate courses. As well as Theology and Philosophy, girls have also applied for Psychology, English, History, Economics, Medicine, Dentistry, Geography and Education. Partly because of the transferable skills that it develops, universities tend to have a very positive attitude towards RS as an A-level option.