Oxford / Online / International
Today you will find the curriculum is very different from when your parents would have had to study the subject at school. The major shift has concerned the popular move away from the close reading of biblical or other religious texts towards a more thorough investigation of the philosophy of religion and of religious as well as secular ethics. Students will usually follow modules on philosophy and ethics, but this does depend on curriculum as well as teacher choice.
Typically students will cover the classical arguments for the existence of God including the ontological, cosmological and teleological arguments, and the arguments from experience and conscience. These will be analysed from the perspective of both a religious believer and a cynic, helping students develop their own understanding of the issues at stake and the plausibility of the evidence presented. Other likely philosophical topics include miracles, looking at competing definitions, whether they are unanimously accepted by believers and potential reasons for rejecting them. Religious language asks whether it is ever possible to describe God using ordinary language and if we do so, how it is possible to know that such speak actually describes God at all, given the lack of empirical or logical verification available. Body, soul and personal identity provide the opportunity to examine age old debates about the nature of personhood, locus of identity and the possibility of life after death. There are many other areas of investigation available that aren't covered here.
Within the study of moral philosophy, students will develop an understanding of the three main branches of ethics. Meta-ethics looks at the nature and status of ethical claims, such as what it means to call something 'good' or 'bad', whether these utterances express subjective opinions or make reference to actual properties in the world. Normative ethics is an investigation of the various leading moral theories in existence all of which attempt to provide a framework for ethical decision making including utilitarianism, situation ethics, virtue ethics, Kantian ethics and Christian ethics. These contrasting views are compared in terms of being teleological, deontological or agent-centred in nature and the consequences of these for the moral agent. Absolutist and relativistic stances on morality are scrutinised, the evidence examined and debated. Additionally, students are likely to encounter debates such as free will and determinism and the implications this has for judgement and redemption.
Psychology, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology
Julia Ford BA (Hons) MA (Oxon) PGCert CertTESOL MBPsS
Assessor for OCR Psychology
Examiner for AQA Philosophy
Graduate of the University of Oxford
Enhanced CRB Disclosure certificate.
RS Program Co-ordinator
d'Overbroecks Independent Sixth Form
Oxford Tutorial College
Greene's Tutorial College
Leckford Place School