Philosophy and Religion

Why Study?

While this course continues to explore philosophical & ethical issues, it is completely different to GCSE as you start to consider some of the deeper questions about God, ethics and the meaning of life. For this subject you just need an open mind and to be prepared to ask more questions than you’ll find answers for. Philosophy and Religion is a very thought-provoking subject that develops writing and analytical skills.

What can I do with it?

Philosophy and Religion is highly regarded by universities and employers as it proves that you are able to think, discuss and evaluate. It is an excellent preparation for any humanities degree.

It particularly prepares students for the following careers: legal and medical services; journalism and publishing; education and social work; broadcast, film, video and media sector; politics.

Subject combinations

Philosophy and Religion is an academic A level, considered to be good preparation for most Arts degrees, and works well alongside English, Sociology, Politics and Psychology.


Philosophical debate club and Classical readings book club

What will I study?

The course comprises three units, each unit being 33.3% of the final award.

Unit H573 (01) The Philosophy of Religion

In this unit students consider the origins of philosophical enquiry, focusing on the work of Plato and Aristotle and their contributions to other schools of philosophical thought. Students then turn to consider the classical arguments for the existence of God as well as the major challenges facing believers such as the problems of evil and suffering. Students will also consider the relationship and nature of body, mind and soul as well as considering how ideas surrounding these link to concepts and the possibility of an afterlife. In the second year students will also consider the nature of God with particular reference to the work of Boethius in “The Consolations of Philosophy” and the issues surrounding free will and the omniscience of God. Consideration will also be given to the nature and meaningfulness of religious language, looking at the work of thinkers such as Ayer, Flew and Tillich as well as considering the nature of religious language as symbolic, mythological or analogous.

Unit H 573 (02) Religious Ethics

The Ethics unit of this course looks at both theoretical and practical ethics. Students begin by considering how individuals might decide on what constitutes a “moral” action. They consider, critically, the theories of Natural Law, Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics and Religious Ethics (to include the development of Situation Ethics). They will be expected to be able to explain how these theories work and then consider whether they do, in fact, work. Students then turn to practical ethics, exploring the issues surrounding sex, sexuality and euthanasia. Within this, students will explore the moral dilemmas raised by these issues as well as considering the responses of the different ethical theories. Students will also consider the nature of ethical language and what we ultimately mean when we claim that an action is “good”. In order to form their own views on the nature of ethical language students will also look at the work of Aquinas, Fletcher, Kant and Singer among others. In the second year students will also look at the nature and role of the conscience in moral decision making, evaluating different responses to its existence and efficacy. In addition to this, students will consider the role of free will in moral decision making and use this to evaluate the extent to which we can be held responsible for our actions. Finally, students will consider key issues and dilemmas within moral philosophy such as the Euthyphro dilemma and divine command theory.

Unit H573 (06) Buddhism

This unit looks at the origins, development and practices of the Buddhist faith. We begin by looking at the life of the Buddha in historical context and how the religion developed, considering the impact of the socio-economic situation at the time as well as the influence of key figures such as the Emperor Ashoka. Students will also develop an understanding of key religious beliefs such as Samara, the 3 Marks of Existence, the 4 Noble Truths and the 8-Fold Path. Further, students will learn about the practice and benefits of a range of meditational methods such as Vipassana and Samatha and relate these to experience of the Jhanas. In the second year there will also be a consideration of the development of key Buddhist groups as well as the ways in which Buddhism has developed in different countries and cultures such as Tibet, Japan and in the West. Finally, students will look at gender roles within the Buddhist faith.

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