A Level Philosophy

 

Think about major questions to do with the nature of existence, life in society, and the nature of knowledge and belief.

Learn how to question and investigate the kind of beliefs which we take for granted. Learn how to argue and present a case effectively, using evidence, reasoning, and sound premises

You will need an inquiring and critical mind and enjoy wrestling with problems that do not admit of obvious solutions.

You will be taught how to think analytically, how to dissect arguments and how to put your own arguments persuasively.

You will learn some of the fundamental arguments concerning the meaning and purpose of human existence.

AS Level

MPW approach to AS study

Weekly timed assignments and homework combined with class discussion and note-taking provide students with a good knowledge base and regular practice in developing essay-writing skills.

AS Specification Number
AQA 1171

 

Unit 1: Introduction to Philosophy 1

25% of A level
Written Paper: 1 hour 30 minutes
Students learn two topics. The first topic is called ‘Reason and Experience’. This involves tackling questions about the source of our ideas and the foundations of knowledge. For example, whilst we interpret the world through our senses is it not possible to conceive of a non-sensory experience? The second topic is called ‘Why should I be governed?’ and involves an introduction to political philosophy. This addresses the question of how an individual or collection of individuals, originally free, come to be obligated or bound to obey the laws and commands of the state.

Unit 2: Introduction to Philosophy 2

25% of A level
Written Paper: 1 hour 30 minutes
Students learn two topics. The first topic is called ‘Knowledge of the External World’ and explores in greater detail some of the ideas raised in ‘Reason and Experience’ from Unit 1. In particular, it raises basic questions regarding perception and introduces students to some well-known philosophical theories that attempt to explain how we get to have knowledge of the world around us. The second topic is called ‘Tolerance’ and builds upon the introduction to political philosophy taught in Unit 1. Tolerance has been analysed as involving three components: objection, acceptance and rejection, but how clear-cut is that analysis? What reasons recommend tolerance: could tolerance be undesirable; how might being tolerant lead to the so called paradoxes of tolerance?

Reading List

Author
TitleISBN
M. Lacewing Philosophy for AS ISBN 9780415458214

 

A2 Level

MPW approach to A2 study

Weekly timed assignments and homework combined with class discussion and note-taking offer the opportunity to extend and enhance students’ ability to construct, develop and maintain clear and coherent arguments. Students are encouraged to undertake wider reading to enable them to engage  in more conceptually sophisticated discussions at A2-level.

A2 Specification Number
AQA 2121

 

Unit 3:Key themes in Philosophy

30% of A level
Written Paper: 2 hours
Students learn two topics out of the following three possible options. The first option is called ‘Philosophy of Mind’. This theme raises questions concerning the nature and our knowledge of the mind. What is the mind? What is its place in nature? What is the relationship between mentality and physicality? How are mental states identified, experienced and known? The second option is called ‘Political Philosophy’ which raises philosophical questions concerning how human wellbeing can be advanced or hindered by the organisation of society and political structures. Both descriptive and normative issues are considered in order to evaluate how a political community can function appropriately and what is required for its citizens to flourish. The third option is called ‘Moral Philosophy’. This theme raises questions such as ‘Are there moral truths and if so what is their nature?’ Students consider whether moral decisions should be made in  terms of consequences alone, or whether there are other considerations that need to be taken into account in order to form good moral judgements.

Unit 4: Philosophical  problems

20% of A level
Written Paper: 2 hours
Students approach philosophy through a series of problems raised by classic philosophers. Students become familiar with the text and develop and explore the problem areas identified within the text. The problem areas relate directly to other areas of the specification and students are able to draw on, develop and apply material from both the AS and A2 modules. Students are expected to use this knowledge as a springboard for wider discussion and engagement of issues and apply their acquired knowledge to a philosophical problem raised in the text. Depending on class allocation and/or tutor preference students can expect to study either Rene Descartes’ Meditations or Frederick Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil.

Reading List

Author
TitleISBN
M. Lacewing Philosophy for A2: Unit 3 ISBN 9780415458221
F. Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil ISBN 9780199537075
OR R. Descartes    Meditations translated by F.E. Sutcliffe ISBN 9780340888049

Anastasia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”

Julia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AABB

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”

Andrew

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”

Cynthia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*A

Progressed to
University College London (Economics)

“My subject teachers and Personal Tutor have been very patient and helpful in supporting my studies and university application.”

Akmaral

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”