Philosophy and Theology
The search for answers to the hardest questions brings its own deep satisfaction. Aristotle describes his and his students’ experiences like this: “all feel at home in philosophy and wish to spend time on it, leaving all other things aside”.
Apart from the “selfish” reasons of enjoyability, studying Philosophy and Theology is radical.
You will develop a habit of questioning the assumptions behind received ideas and interrogating the meanings we give words. Studying Christian Theology in depth can expose you to a rival account of reality and value to challenge your assumptions with its coherence and insights – or deepen your understanding of the tradition that informs your relationship with God.
The OCR A-level “Religious Studies” course divides into three different papers:
Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Ethics, and Christian Theology. Candidates will sit three exams in the summer of their Upper Sixth year in the three topics listed above.
Here is a small sample of the questions we address in the course:
- Does suffering show the cosmos is indifferent, or does it serve a higher purpose?
- Why is there something rather than nothing? Why does the universe appear so orderly and purposeful?
- What makes life worth living? Is “feeling good” the only thing that ultimately matters?
- How do humans get knowledge of God – can we know anything about God?
The evaluative and writing skills learnt will complement other humanities subjects – philosophical writing teaches clarity and focus, and philosophical reading trains attention to detail and an open mind. Discussion-led lessons will improve your communication and argumentation skills. Universities will regard your choice of A-level RS as evidence of all these traits in development.
You will learn the intellectual history underpinning the cultural and political changes described in History, and influenced the literature studied in English and Drama. You will explore how the scientific method works, and how to weigh evidence of very different kinds. Studying ethics will prepare those interested in medicine or law for the decisions they must make and problems they must analyse.
The course is a preparation for any career where analysis and communication skills are important: Law, Politics, Journalism and the Media, Consulting, and Public Relations, for example.
Philosophy graduates typically outperform other humanities graduates in recruitment aptitude tests, while Theology degrees often involve modules that are natural preparation for specific careers in policy and public service.