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Phylosophy A'Level: a soft or hard A'level?

(36 Posts)
McCloudsextoy Tue 22-Sep-09 21:10:19

Does anyone know?

BecauseImWorthIt Tue 22-Sep-09 21:15:00

A hard one, I think. Well received as far as I understand it, by universities, as it helps to teach students how to think.

Milliways Tue 22-Sep-09 21:15:58

Philosophy & Ethics is respected.

Philosophy on it's own is on the Cambridge list of "A levels suitable for Arts courses" if that helps?

McCloudsextoy Tue 22-Sep-09 21:23:13

Yes, it helps, many thanks.

Lilymaid Tue 22-Sep-09 21:24:28

It is taught at DS1's very academic independent - in fact one of DS1's friends did Philosophy A Level and then went on to do Philosophy at Cambridge.

angelene Tue 22-Sep-09 21:30:33

DH teaches philosophy as part of Ethics A Level and it is bloody hard from what I can see.

Just as an example I heard an In Our Time on the radio the other day about Thomas Aquinas and he is going to use it in a lesson as a 'stretch' - and that programme requires an extremely high level of intellect and thought IMO.

It's also part of the hallowed PPE isn't it?

Meglet Tue 22-Sep-09 21:34:01

Hard. I'm in mensa and I got an 'E'. Even that was a massive learning curve.

Very, very interesting subject IMO. Changed my outlook on life.

I remember in the first lesson the lecturer said he was going to turn us into 'nit-picking philosophy students', he was right.

MintyCane Wed 23-Sep-09 17:14:26


lazymumofteenagesons Wed 23-Sep-09 18:13:47

HARD especially when you can't spell it wink

vinblanc Wed 23-Sep-09 20:08:38

It's a hard one, similar to RS.

My DS had a choice of Philosophy, RS or Critical Thinking. Philosophy seemed to be the hardest, and CT a bit of a joke.

Saying that, DS didn't enjoy it at all, although got an A grade.

TwentiethCenturyHeffa Wed 23-Sep-09 20:30:05

I did Philosophy and Ethics at A-level. It was very challenging but I loved it and went on to study it at university. Out of the class of 6 of us, 3 went on to study Philosophy. It can be a very broad subject so I love certain parts (such as political philosophy and ethics) and wasn't very good at/didn't enjoy others (like formal logic).

The A-level and subsequent degree completely changed me and my outlook on life (like Meglet).

Karam Wed 23-Sep-09 22:17:09

Philosophy 'A' level (by AQA - the only board that offers "Philosophy" 'A' level) is different to Philosophy and Ethics - which is often "Religious Studies". I teach both 'A' levels (and the RS course I teach is philosophy and ethics)

According to a recent study (the Durham Uni one), RS is somewhere in the middle on the difficulty of 'A' levels. It was about the same level of difficulty as English lang and lit I think. Certainly, my students do not find it an easy course. It seems to have a decent level of respectability amongst universities too.

Philosophy (the pure AQA philosophy A level) is harder than the RS philosophy course. The AQA philosophy course is much faster, its covers more topics and the epistemology elements of the course is harder too.
Both are fascinating courses though. HTH

MuppetsMuggle Wed 23-Sep-09 22:23:02

I'm studying A Levels as a mature student and alot of the school leavers who have gone into the subject have found it difficult but interesting in the first couple of weeks.

Morosky Wed 23-Sep-09 22:23:12

I teach Philosophy of Religion ( half of the Philosophy and Ethics course) and the students do find it hard but also very enjoyable. Some of them say it is life changing and many go on to study Philosophy at university.

I ask mine to listen to in our time as well.

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 23-Sep-09 22:26:48

As a hijack/aside, DS1 is doing philosophy A level and is interested in doing it at university, as a joint honours with history.

Does anyone have any recommendations as to good universities for either subject?

He has just got a C at AS level, made up of an A for one exam and a D for the other - he will be re-sitting the one he got a D for, so hopefully will improve on that!

MintyCane Thu 24-Sep-09 09:47:09

I did philosophy as my first degree at Swansea many many years ago now though. It was four years of bliss. It was an amazing department in those days. I don't know about now though.

Milliways Thu 24-Sep-09 16:09:17

BecauseIAmWorthIt: List of Uni's offering History/Philosophy degrees

PfftTheMagicDragon Thu 24-Sep-09 16:11:43

I did it, it was bloody hard! I did English and some "ologies" and found Philosophy quite hard at A level. I did go on to study it at university though, it is very interesting.

choosyfloosy Thu 24-Sep-09 16:23:47

BIWI, Cambridge should also be on that list as you can study Philosophy and History there by taking one as Part I (which will be either 1 or 2 years long) and one as Part II (either 2 or 1 year long!)

Oxford does some joint Philosophy degrees.

Milliways Thu 24-Sep-09 17:22:26

There are many options to put into the UCAS search - too many variations on History (Ancient, Modern, Political, Religious etc etc) so I just choose plain Modern History + Philosophy. Probably, if you do Philosophy + History you get a different set of results

Chaotica Thu 24-Sep-09 17:48:27


TBH A Level is seen by a lot of academic philosophers as a bit pointless as the A level marking scheme has to be really rigid (so the course boring) so there's no scope for interesting ideas. A lot of good philosophers get E's. (Have probably cheered up Meglet smile)

Philosophy OTOH is a great subject at university, although content of courses differs wildly.

BecauseImWorthIt Thu 24-Sep-09 18:13:52

Milliways - thanks for the link. Unfortunately it said it had timed out!

choosy - sadly I don't think DS1 is quite good enough for Oxbridge.

Morosky Thu 24-Sep-09 19:08:16

I was going to suggest Cambridge, one of my year 13s has been looking into courses and she chose Cambridge.

I agree about the marking scheme, but good a level teaching is not about marking schemes. My students get so much from it.

Milliways Thu 24-Sep-09 19:16:52

BecauseIAMWI: - Use this as it is the UCAS course selection thingy.....

choosyfloosy Thu 24-Sep-09 19:24:38

BIWI maybe, but why not look at it the other way - if Oxbridge isn't good enough for him, that's fine - but why not have a look at it, if it does the course he wants? If he doesn't like it, then he needn't apply.

Parly because Oxbridge is/are so RICH and these days that really helps - shedloads of books in the library, support, bursaries, all that stuff. I was so shock when I found out that you have to make a special request for an interlibrary loan at my current uni, which a tutor has to sign off specially; with an arts subject i would always recommend a university with a copyright library so that everything you could want is on site.

will shut up now...

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