A Level Philosophy (Legacy)

What is Philosophy?

The word ‘philosophy’ is derived from the Greek for ‘love of wisdom’. Philosophy is a subject at the core of most humanities courses. It focuses on abstract questions such as ‘how do we know what we know?’ Where does knowledge come from? ‘Does God exist?’ ‘Is the world really as it
appears to us?’ ‘What is the mind?’ and so on. It teaches you to think analytically, how to dissect arguments, and how to wrestle with problems with no obvious end solution.

What sort of student does it suit and what will you get out of the course?

The analysis of reasons and arguments is the core of philosophy. So, you will need a good level of English Language at GCSE and an inquisitive mind. It is suited for students who enjoy debating, reasoning, logical thinking, and asking penetrating questions. Philosophical skills are applicable in any area where arguments are important. They are particularly useful when you are writing essays, since you are usually expected to make a case for your conclusions rather than simply assert them. For this reason, a basic grounding in philosophy is extremely valuable, whatever academic subject you intend to pursue later. This is a challenging course but incredibly rewarding, with philosophy students’ skills being highly sought after in many university courses, and careers.

AS Level

MPW approach to AS study

The emphasis in teaching is on both knowledge of how particular philosophical issues have been addressed in the past as well as developing the necessary skills to analyse and develop arguments. Reading of the works of key figures in the history of philosophy is required as is the ability to develop closely argued written arguments with fluency. Trips of student philosophy conferences will enable students to develop their skills and experience philosophy in an exciting academic experience.

AS Specification Number
AQA 1176


Unit 1 (PHLS1)

3h exam 100% (50%)
Epistemology and Philosophy of Religion.

This unit looks at some key issues in philosophy: does our knowledge come from reason or experience; how do we experience the world?; the idea of God; and what meaning does religious language have?

Reading list

Descartes The Meditations Penguin Classics
Jones, Hayward, Cardinal  AQA AS Philosophy  Hodder Education
Lacewing  Philosophy for AS  Routledge 


A2 Level

MPW approach to A2 study

The skills developed in AS will be built upon and extend with an emphasis on detailed analysis of key thinkers and texts. Knowledge of how particular philosophical issues have been addressed in the past will be improved upon and the skills to analyse and develop arguments will be refined. There will be at least two written assignments each week as well as a weekly assessment under supervised and timed conditions.

A2 Specification Number
AQA 2176


Unit 2 (PHLS2)

3h exam 50% 
Ethics and Philosophy of Mind.

Candidates study the two themes in depth including the questions: what is good?; is it always good?; and what is the relationship between mind and body?


Reading list

Descartes  The Meditations Penguin Classics
Lacewing  Philosophy for A2 Routledge 

Full specification details