Philosophy A Level AQA for Year 13

Length of course: 5 full-day sessions
Boards: AQA 7172 only

This course is board-specific for theAQA A level Philosophy specification (7172).

This course is for A level Year 13 students only.

This course is not suitable for Year 12 students.


  • What is knowledge?:The distinction between acquaintance knowledge, ability knowledge and propositional knowledge; the nature of definition (including Linda Zagzebski) and how propositional knowledge may be analysed/defined; the tripartite view, issues and responses.
  • Perception as a source of knowledge: Direct realism, indirect realism and Berkeley's idealism.
  • Reason as a source of knowledge: Innatism; The intuition and deduction thesis. Empiricist responses to these theories.
  • The limits of knowledge: Particular nature of philosophical skepticism; the role/function of philosophical scepticism within epistemology; the distinction between local and global skepticism; Descartes’ sceptical arguments and issues/responses; reliabilism.

Moral philosophy

  • Normative ethical theories: The meaning of good, bad, right, wrong within each of the three approaches: Utilitarianism, Kantian deontological ethics, Aristotelian virtue ethics.
  • Meta-ethics: The origins of moral principles: reason, emotion/attitudes, or society; the distinction between cognitivism and non-cognitivism about ethical language; moral realism, including naturalism and non-naturalism; moral anti-realism, including error theory, emotivism and prescriptivism.
  • Applied ethics: Applying the content of normative ethical theories and metaethics to the following issues: stealing; simulated killing (within computer games, plays, films etc); eating animals, telling lies.

Metaphysics of God

  • The concept and nature of 'God' God's attributes: God as omniscient, omnipotent, supremely good (omnibenevolent), and the meaning(s) of these divine attributes. Competing views on such a being’s relationship to time, arguments for the incoherence of the concept of God.
  • Arguments relating to the existence of God: Ontological arguments, teleological/design arguments, cosmological arguments and the Problem of Evil.
  • Religious language: The distinction between cognitivism and non-cognitivism about religious language, verification/falsification (Ayer) and responses including eschatological verification and the 'University Debate'.

Metaphysics of mind

  • What do we mean by ‘mind’? Features of mental states: • All or at least some mental states have phenomenal properties • Some, but not all, philosophers use the term 'qualia' to refer to these properties, where 'qualia' are defined as 'intrinsic and non-intentional phenomenal properties that are introspectively accessible' • All or at least some mental states have intentional properties (ie intentionality).
  • Dualist theories: Substance dualism (Descartes). The ‘philosophical zombies’ argument for property dualism (David Chalmers). The ‘knowledge/Mary’ argument for property dualism (Frank Jackson).
  • Physicalist theories: Behaviourism, Mind-brain type identity theory, Eliminative materialism and Functionalism. Issues and responses to these theories.