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    I've recently had an inkling of a thought...I'm meant to be taking Philosophy AS next year, but it seems really hard and I'm increasingly thinking I won't like it...so I'm thinking of maybe doing English Lit, mainly because my bro says I ought to, my mum thinks I ought to, and I like Shakespeare ...but I dunno. So if anyone's doing or has done both English Lit and Philosophy I would welcome opinions on the difficulty level of each subject and amount of work, or anything at all related that you think'd be helpful. Thanks!
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    yeah I'm doing Eng lit and Religious studies, which has a Philosophy element.
    imo I think English Lit is a more well thought of subject because it requires a lot of analysing and in philosophy you just learn the arguments and don't really have a conclusion. Although I haven't started AS levels yet, I think that English Lit will involve a lot more work according to chats with some people who have taken this subject and philosophy. You have to study about 4 books or something during AS... well that's what my teachers told me :p: Hope this helps!
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    (Original post by Random one)
    yeah I'm doing Eng lit and Religious studies, which has a Philosophy element.
    imo I think English Lit is a more well thought of subject because it requires a lot of analysing and in philosophy you just learn the arguments and don't really have a conclusion. Although I haven't started AS levels yet, I think that English Lit will involve a lot more work according to chats with some people who have taken this subject and philosophy. You have to study about 4 books or something during AS... well that's what my teachers told me :p: Hope this helps!
    4 books...eek! I shall have to weigh that up, lol. Thanks!
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    If the only reason you're thinking of switching to English lit is because other people say you should, stick with philosophy. A-levels are a lot more work than GCSEs and if you don't really want to be doing a certain subject, you'll find it very hard to motivate yourself to work. Also, it varies between exam boards, but I'm with Edexcel and you do 2 Shakespeare plays, one at AS and one at A2, along with 3 other texts in each year, so you'll be doing 3 times as much work on other texts as you will on Shakespeare. If, however, you really are starting to have doubts about philosophy, try to find out as much as you can about each subject and get opinions from people doing them; :tsr: is a great place to start!
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    What are your other A levels? Possible university choices? Eng Lit is much more highly respected, and I for one love it, but everyone I know who took Philosophy seems to have enjoyed it.
    Eng Lit is one of the few subjects where you actually have to read several books from cover to cover (um...well...I know someone who didn't finish one of her texts, but neither she nor I would advise that), but they tend not to be particularly long, especially as (at least with AQA) you do plays and poetry as well as novels. We read the majority of our texts in class, and you do get loads of time to get through the books, so you shouldn't let that put you off. Though if your disinclination to read overmuch is an indication of a wider distaste for literature, then Eng Lit probably isn't for you.
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    I do English Literature and Philosophy (just done AS exams) so I may be able to help from both angles. English Literature was a hell of a lot easier because that's where my talents lie, but I've found studying Philosophy so interesting that it didn't matter that it was harder. I've even managed to transfer the skills I've acquired in Philosophy to English (especially poetry! Every essay practically leant itself to Descartes) and even though it does take a long time for concepts to sink in, once it's there it's totally fulfilling. I definitely disagree that English Literature is easier because it has more closure; there's just as much discrepancy and openness to Literature as there is with Philosophy. In Philosophy exams, the first few questions are just knowledge based (literally just memorising facts and arguments), then the last is an evaluation of a theory from that particular topic, which (like any humanities subject) will be in the vein of, "Well, the theory is good in some ways, but has some intrinsic problems that are difficult, if not impossible to solve". It's in fact a lot more straight-forward than English Literature, where you just have one question to answer for each set text and everything hinges on an adequate interpretation of it. Also, there is a lot of reading to be done in Philosophy; altogether probably more than English Literature. With the latter, you can read the books and essentially be done with your revision. Philosophy has its own set text (I studied Descartes - The Meditations this year, and Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics next year) which is probably going to be a fair bit harder going than anything you would read in Literature, plus all the singular theories that are studied for the Epistemology and Ethics/Philosophy of Religion (whichever option is taught) involve a lot of background reading if you want to do well. Whatever you decide to do, good luck!
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    I'm not qualified to say anything, but I'd go for English Lit - purely because it leaves you with a subject that is recognised in more subject careers in university applications. Do what you like best though - the worst thing is getting lumped with a subject you hate.
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    I started by doing both last year, and dropped Philosophy after 2 weeks, because a) I didn't like it and b) because I found out that it was actually OCR Religious Studies being fobbed off as philosophy in our sixth form prospectus.
    Shocking!

    Why don't you do both and see how you go? Or is there a timetable issue?


    PS. I switched 'Philosophy' (RE) to German, and haven't regretted it since (well..)
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    yelwalkietalkie said exactly what I would have said... very good advice. I am also taking eng lit and phil.

    One thing that I would say about the 'closure' aspect is that its "easier" to come to your own, subjective conclusion in English Literature, or even a number of conclusions that you think could be the case. In that sense, it can be quite satisfying. Philosophy will, however, (if you are open to it) challenge the conclusions that you already have, and open up new lines of thought for you. Christians in my class have said that it has both shaken and strengthened their belief, and as a lapsed catholic, it has changed the way that I view God and the universe.

    If you *really* get into it, philosophy can actually make you dizzy with thought, even when arguments end with the conclusion that, "it just doesn't matter". However, you can get through an exam without understanding anything, just because you've memorised the textbook. I think that you get out of philosophy what you put in.

    In Eng lit, there are 4 books per year, yes, but I only actually read act 1 of Hamlet, and then a soliloquy, and got 19/20 in the coursework. My point being that if you are naturally good at essay writing and interpretation of text, you can get away with doing a lot less work than other people. In philosophy, you can't get away with not thinking.
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    Thanks all you guys for your comments, they're really interesting. Tis food for thought, though my brain's not in much of a thinking gear at this time of night, lol!

    I'm not bad at improvising - I'm fairly proud of the fact I aced my Jane Eyre coursework without ever having read the book, lol - so what you said, Mata, appeals to me! But yeah, I guess a huge amount of reading is involved in both subjects, so hmm...

    I'm doing Bio, Chem, RS, History and then whichever I pick...and maybe German on the side, lol. Probs Dentistry as a career, the arty bit in me is teetering towards Law though Would either subject be better considering my other choices and aspirations?

    I don't actually know the subject blocks (they just asked me what I wanted to do and did their best to fit it in, though my opinions keep changing since then!) so I dunno if I could switch...maybe those ones'd be in separate blocks though, as I imagine several people do both?

    I quite like deep thinking but I'm easily frustrated, so is that a problem with Philosophy, because there's loads of different conclusions and levels you can look at? I went a bit anti-English in GCSE years but at the mo I'm really interested in Shakespeare again and I'm quite into analysing poetry, which is making me think I don't wanna drop it...I'm so indecisive, man! Lols.

    Thanks a lot again - and sorry for how pathetically this post is written, I'm a tad tired! Btw yelwalkietalkie or Mata, would you mind telling me where I can find some sample Phil qs or something so I can see what qs are like?
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    Gnah, don't do this to me. If I have advice from personal opinion to give to you, it'd be to take both. They're the best and most enjoyable subjects you can ever study, and lend themselves to each other so well. I can't count the number of times I've referenced literature in my philosophy essays or philosophers in my literature essays... I think I mentioned Plato's "Republic" about a dozen times!

    Having said that, I know absolutely nothing about your situation. If it really is a one or the other scenario, then go with the one you /enjoy/ rather than the one you are being made to feel you ought to do. No subject is easy if you don't enjoy it.

    Edit: Actually an awful lot of subjects are boring and easy... but I'm sure you get the gist of what i'm saying.
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    Go here to download question papers for previous years (it is only this exam board that does Philosophy):

    http://www.aqa.org.uk/qual/gceasa/phi_assess.html

    For instance, in the 2004 exam in the moral philosophy paper, there were the following questions:

    1 a) Briefly explain what is meant by moral realism (6 marks)
    b) Explain and illustrate the is-ought (fact-value) gap (15 marks)
    c) Assess non-cognitivism (24 marks)

    2 a) Briefly explain what preference utilitarianism involves (6 marks)
    b) Explain and illustrate how deontological ethics differs from rule utilitarianism (15 marks)
    c) Assess deontological ethics with reference to any one of: euthanasia; or abortion; or animal rights (24 marks)

    You have one hour to complete either question 1 or question 2, which is easily enough done as long as you stick to the point. There's 3 papers in all, and no coursework in the first year, which is definitely an advantage because it took me until a few months before the exams to really understand the material (I think that's normal too). If you have studied Philosophy in your spare time previously, you might well understand what the questions mean; otherwise it might just seem like a load of nonsense to you. As soon as you've studied the topics you'll find the questions very easy. The main problem in Philosophy exams (for me anyway) is not sticking to the point and structuring answers appropriately rather than any lack of knowledge.
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    (Original post by Rasta)
    I'm doing Bio, Chem, RS, History and then whichever I pick...and maybe German on the side, lol. Probs Dentistry as a career, the arty bit in me is teetering towards Law though Would either subject be better considering my other choices and aspirations?
    You want to take 5 or 6 proper subjects???? :eek: That's insane! 4 is more than enough! Do you know what the RS course at your school/college invovles? At my school, the course is Religious Studies: Philosophy and Ethics, so you wouldn't need to take philosophy as well because you'd already be studying it in RS. If you decided to go for law, I don't think it would really matter which out of English lit or philosophy you did because both are great subjects for that, but English literature is maybe a little bit more respected and more of a common choice for law applicants.
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    I also do both and love both but you will have to see for yourself. If worse comes to worse you drop a subject and pick up another. Concerning law - English Literature, Philosophy and History really are some of the best subjects to have if that is your intended vocation.

    All depends on your strengths and weaknesses
    - history, philosophy, english easily blend into one other and those skills learnt may be used across the board.

    Don't do a subject just as everyone else is intending on taking it or as it is a popular choice. It is far better to have a good grade in something you enjoy and are talented in and be in the minority for that, rather than exist in a majority of mediocre grades of the 'in' subject.
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    All the best =0)
    Hope you choose well.
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    Thanks Jay, kellywood, yelwalkietalkie and coldfish. You're all doing a fairly good job of making me want to do both, but maybe that's a good thing!

    Yeah yelwalkietalkie - it sounds like nonsense to me! I guess I'd understand it once I'd done the work...sounds seriously tough to me though! Thanks a lot for the sample questions.

    kellywood - the RS one at the place I'm going doesn't have a great deal of Philosophy in it, originally it was gonna be between the two but I like RS too much! If there was more Phil in my RS I'd just do that maybe, but there's hardly any. I know, insanity, lol! But that's me all over just thankfully only Chem and Bio have Y12 coursework for my syllabuses and I'm just gonna knuckle down and see how it goes! Tis my stupid indecisiveness, I just can't pick which ones to drop!

    For the English Lit-ers, can I just ask what the major differences between what you do at GCSE and AS are? Would you say it's just a step up or is the way of teaching and learning completely different?

    Thanks all.
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    (Original post by Rasta)
    For the English Lit-ers, can I just ask what the major differences between what you do at GCSE and AS are? Would you say it's just a step up or is the way of teaching and learning completely different?

    Thanks all.
    I would say that it is a step up, you have to make use of previously learnt skills, apply and improve upon them. You must also enjoy reading, if you can get away with reading a small amount and understanding the whole text then you are most fortunate - but a class discussion could be based on any part of the text so I would say that it is best to read, hopefully enjoy and understand it all.

    You must also be prepared to work independently. On a personal note my present english lit' teachers told us at the start of the first term that the course would be difficult for those who had been 'spoon fed' at GCSE - told precisely what to write and what opinions to have, which is in my view, ridiculous. Fortunately my GCSE teacher pretty much let us get on with it and refused to use the 'spoon feeding' technique.

    English Literature is books,books books and if you do not have a love of literature or can at least stand having to read on a regular basis then you may find it draining.

    As with GCSE you will study a text, with GCSE there are lots but at AS level, three and one other for coursework. You go into depth with these whether they be novels, plays or poetry. You study the text as a whole rather than selected extracts which is what often happens at GCSE I recall. Your teachers will choose the texts to be studied.

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    (Original post by Rasta)
    kellywood - the RS one at the place I'm going doesn't have a great deal of Philosophy in it, originally it was gonna be between the two but I like RS too much! If there was more Phil in my RS I'd just do that maybe, but there's hardly any. I know, insanity, lol! But that's me all over just thankfully only Chem and Bio have Y12 coursework for my syllabuses and I'm just gonna knuckle down and see how it goes! Tis my stupid indecisiveness, I just can't pick which ones to drop!

    For the English Lit-ers, can I just ask what the major differences between what you do at GCSE and AS are? Would you say it's just a step up or is the way of teaching and learning completely different?

    Thanks all.
    Well, you can always drop one within the first half-term or whenever if it gets too much, and at least this way you'll get to experience all the subjects before deciding.

    AS English lit is obviously a step up from GCSE, as all AS-levels are, but I wouldn't say it was that different. You still study the same kind of texts (poetry, plays and novels), you still experience different time periods and you write about the same sort of things (poetic devices, themes, structure etc). The main difference is that you go into more depth and your own opinions and interpretations are more valued. Apart from that, you have to do more independent work and the number of essays you'll have to write will increase dramatically, but that's true of any arts subject.
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    Thanks guys. The idea I'm getting is you have to like reading! Lol, but as long as the books are good, I enjoy it.

    I think I'll email or write to the Sixth Form head and see how I would go about it, and then I can, as you say, always drop one.

    Cheers for the help and info.
 
 
 

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