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Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


Key Stage 5 Overview

Year 12

Philosophy of Religion:

  • Arguments for the existence of God: The Design Argument – Students will explore the theory from William Paley on design and the criticisms of this theory.
  • Arguments for the existence of God: The Ontological Argument – Students will explore Anselm’s a priori argument and the criticisms from both Guanilo and Kant.
  • Arguments for the existence of God: The Cosmological Argument – Students will explore Aquinas’ Way 3, the argument from contingency and necessity and the criticisms from Hume and Russell.
  • Evil and Suffering – Students will explore the problem of evil and suffering including natural and moral evil and the logical and evidential problem of evil. Students will also study the responses to the problem of evil including the Free Will Defence, Hick’s soul-making theodicy and Process Theodicy as presented by Griffin.
  • Religious Experience – Students will study the nature of religious experience and verifying religious experience.

Ethics and Religion:

  • Normative Ethical Theories: Natural Moral Law – Students will explore Natural Moral Law and the principle of double effect, with reference to Aquinas and proportionalism. Students will also study the strengths and weaknesses of this theory as a tool to make moral decisions.
  • Normative Ethical Theories: Situation Ethics – Students will explore Situation Ethics with reference to Joseph Fletcher. They will also explore the strengths and weaknesses of this theory for moral decision making.
  • Normative Ethical Theories: Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics – Students will explore Virtue Ethics with reference to Aristotle and assess the strengths and weaknesses of this character-based theory on moral decision making.
  • Application of Ethical Theories: Medical Ethics – Students will cover the application of the three normative ethical theories above to the following ethical issues; theft, lying, embryo research, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment and application to issues of non-human life and death.


In component 2 of the specification: Study of the Christian Religion, this section has five parts that will be divided between both the Ethics teacher and the Philosophy of Religion teacher. They include:

  • Sources of wisdom and authority;
  • God;
  • Self, death and afterlife;
  • Good conduct and key moral principles;
  • Expression of religious identity.

When studying these sections students will develop understanding on the Philosophy and Ethics units as the specification makes an organic link between its three parts: Christianity, Philosophy of religion and Ethics within the Dialogues section.

Year 13

Philosophy of Religion:

  • Religious Language – Students will explore the issue of whether religious language should be viewed cognitively or non-cognitively. Students will also explore the challenges to the verification and falsification principles and the meaningfulness of religious language.
  • Miracles – Students will explore the different understandings of miracles such as the realist and anti-realist views and the violation of natural law. Student will also explore the comparison of the key ideas of David Hume and Maurice Wiles.
  • Self, death and afterlife – Students will explore the nature and existence of the soul; Descartes’ argument for the existence of the soul. They will also study the body/soul relationship and the possibility of continuing personal existence after death.

Ethics and Religion:

  • Introduction to Meta-ethics – Students will explore the meaning of right and wrong and what the language of good, bad, right and wrong are and mean.
  • Free will and moral responsibility – Students will explore the conditions of moral responsibility: free will; understanding the difference between right and wrong. They will also explore the extent of moral responsibility through the study of Libertarianism, Hard Determinism and Compatibilism.
  • Conscience – Students will explore differing ideas, both religious and non-religious, about the nature of the conscience. They will study the role of the conscience in making moral decisions with reference to telling lies and adultery.
  • Bentham and Kant – Students will explore comparisons of the key ideas of Bentham and Kant about moral decision-making.

Christianity and Dialogues:

In this section students will explore a range of areas that link both moral issues and Christian teachings. Students will explore Christian teachings on these areas and implement philosophical and ethical arguments / teachings to support or criticise. The areas that students study are:

  • Christianity, gender and sexuality;
  • Christianity and science;
  • Christianity and the challenge of secularisation;
  • Christianity, migration and religious pluralism;
  • Dialogues between Christianity and Philosophy;
  • Dialogues between Christianity and Ethics.