Philosophy stems from a sense of wonder at the world and a willingness to face questions about things that puzzle you. Big questions, important questions: How do we know what exists? Why does anything exist at all? Does time and space go on forever? Does life have a purpose? Is there a God? Where does the idea of God come from? Can we trust our senses? Will science eventually explain everything? What is the difference between the mind and machine? How do we know what the right thing to do is?
People have asked fundamental questions about reality for thousands of years. Recently interest has been rising again particularly among young people, perhaps prompted by virtual reality or by thought-provoking films like ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Inception’. Philosophy gives you the opportunity to think for yourself; to think clearly, critically and logically and to develop sound arguments both in discussion and in writing.
You will learn to follow, understand and criticise the arguments and theories put forward by others, especially the great philosophers of the past and important thinkers of the present. In year 12 you will study Epistemology (the theory of knowledge) and Philosophical ethics. During year 13, you will study Philosophy of Mind and The Philosophy of Religion. There will be two exams at the end of year 13. There is no coursework.
Many universities offer degree courses in Philosophy either as a single subject or else combined with other arts, humanities or science subjects. An example is PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics). Skills developed in A Level Philosophy can lead to a wide range of careers. Law and politics are obvious examples but any career requiring highly skilled thinking and clear, rational communication will benefit from the rigorous academic discipline of Philosophy. Many employers place a high value on such transferable skills. Whatever you go on to do, Philosophy can offer you an important, stimulating lifelong interest and contribute significantly to the way you understand the world.