Considering Philosophy/Religious Studies GCSE or A-level? Read our FAQ hereWatch
If you have any more questions about GCSE/A-level RS/philosophy or philosophy in general, do let me know!
Before GCSE, your religious studies lessons may have involved primarily learning about religious customs and culture. That aspect still exists, but religious studies also encompasses the study of holy texts and of how different religions approach ethical issues (questions about what is right and wrong, and how one should behave) and philosophical issues. An RS qualification will contain some philosophy, some ethics and some study of religious scripture and traditions.
Philosophy and RS are most commonly chosen to complement law- or politics-related degrees or careers, since philosophical and ethical questions often come up in those two disciplines and being able to consider different arguments is a valuable skill in either of them. However, because such questions can be applied to any discipline, philosophy and RS are almost always useful subject choices. If you're more interested in studying medicine, engineering or something scientific, having an essay subject like philosophy/RS shows your versatility, and you might like to look into bioethics, logic or the philosophy of maths or science to see how philosophical questions relate to your field of interest (if you have any questions or would like some recommendations concerning the intersection of science/maths and philosophy, feel free to talk to me; that's a particular interest of mine ).
You might want to take a look at the specification for your exam board if you want more specific information.
If you're doing A-level philosophy, expect a lot of difference from GCSE. For starters, you won't be using a specific religious perspective; while you will still study the philosophy of religion and ask questions about the nature of God and the rationality of belief in God, you will not look at issues through the lens of a certain religion or study its scriptures. Instead, you learn about many secular and sometimes religious perspectives on ethics, epistemology (the philosophy of knowledge) and metaphysics (the study of the nature of reality).
AQA A-level philosophy is divided into four parts: epistemology, ethics, the metaphysics of God and the metaphysics of the mind. Epistemology involves discussions of the nature and sources of knowledge, how it is possible to know and prove things and what sorts of objects can be known, with reference to several contentious philosophical debates including the debate over concept innatism (whether any knowledge can be innate) and whether knowledge is primarily gained through experience or through theoretical reasoning. The ethics component delves deeper into ethical principles such as the categorical imperative and examines the sources of, nature of and reasons for moral behaviour. Metaphysics deals with the fundamental nature of things, and you can expect such questions as whether God is a coherent concept, whether ideas are real and what exactly "the mind" is.
"I found the course challenging but the workload was fairly average in comparison to my other subjects. The main bulk was grasping the material and perfecting essay techniques and styles to suit a variety of questions. There was a lot to learn to access the higher marks, but by no means was it a particularly huge amount in comparison to other subjects. Revision was a case of learning key theories and philosophers, who agrees/disagrees with who, and how this can all be applied to the question. Practice questions will become your best friend! I'd recommend this course to people who particularly enjoy a good debate, and have decent essay-writing skills." -brightanna98
"The workload in alevel compared to as level is a jump just like gsce to as level, but with hard work and preperation you can do well, practice past papers in timed conditions is the key! And prepare as soon as you can , early in the year so you are well prepared! The workload is a jump but you can handle it , with prioritising and meeting deadlines." -alevelyh