Philosophy is an intellectually challenging subject which is well established at The Perse and in which students achieve consistently excellent results. It suits those interested in big ideas who enjoy writing evaluative essays. The subject provides an academically rigorous overview of philosophical and theological enquiry, as well as high-level explorations of epistemology and the philosophy of the mind.
We give students an introduction to the Western philosophical tradition through the key concepts, ideas, texts and arguments which have played a large role in shaping our intellectual heritage. We encourage students to form their own judgements, express them coherently, and contribute to the process of debate. Alongside the intellectual rigour of the course, philosophy is great fun to learn and fosters a huge amount of discussion and critical engagement.
Philosophy develops the skills of critical and deep thinking, analysis of complex ideas, and critical examination and evaluation of evidence and arguments. Students learn to construct, develop and maintain a clear and coherent argument as well as to relate their own intellectual formation to the world they live in.
A good introductory book to complement our specification and provide an accessible overview of philosophy is Key Themes by Baggini & Southwell (pictured below); Palgrave Macmillan; second edition (13 April 2012).
- Learning journey - Lower Sixth
In the Lower Sixth we introduce students to some of the key areas of philosophy and theology, and to key ethical approaches. They begin to develop their ability to apply their reason and critically assess the views put forward by key philosophers and theologians.
Students will study three areas:
- Moral philosophy
- Metaphysics of mind
- Learning journey - Upper Sixth
Students will complete the last part of paper 2 in the first term:
Metaphysics of God
They will then have plenty of time to revise and recap, to practise exam technique and enrich their learning.
- Providing stretch
There is not a day which goes by without a story in the news which can be interpreted through the eyes of a student of philosophy. We encourage our students to keep abreast of current affairs with an ethical, philosophical, or religious dimension.
We encourage students to read widely. Suggested texts include Richard Double’s Beginning Philosophy, William Reaper’s A Beginner’s Guide to Ideas and Nigel Warburton’s The Art Question. There are many good journals and newspapers at students’ disposal, including Dialogue magazine, Philosophy Now and The Philosopher’s Magazine.
Both Lower and Upper Sixth students have the opportunity to attend study conferences in London and Cambridge to consolidate their knowledge and stretch their understanding. There are also opportunities for students to opt into smaller trips in and around the area on topics as diverse as Science Fiction and Religion, An Evening with Rabbi Lionel Blue and The Forgiveness Project Annual Lecture.
- Beyond the classroom
The student-led Philosophy Society meets fortnightly for philosophical debate. Philosophy students also enjoy various enrichment seminars, designed to encourage interdisciplinary thought across the arts and humanities.
Our Medical Ethics discussion forum ‘METHICS’ is led by students. The group meets regularly to consider issues that transcend medical and ethical boundaries, unpacking the issue and the range of possible responses.
The lunchtime lectures in our 42 society programme often raise interesting philosophical and ethics questions. Students have heard from Dr Rowan Williams (on the topic of religion and creativity), Professor Philip Graham (on assisted dying), Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger (on the moral choices facing society), Jemma Levine on political philosophy and multiculturalism and Rabiha Hannan on issues of identity and feminism from an Islamic perspective.
- Philosophy at university
Our A level qualification provides students with a thorough preparation for undergraduate study, whether of philosophy and/or theology, or of related degree courses in humanities.
Every year Perse students proceed to university courses in philosophy, or combining philosophy with other subjects, and the Sixth Form is developing a reputation for sending outstanding candidates to such courses at the most sought-after universities. We provide 1:1 support for those considering a university degree in the subject, helping students with their applications and discussing wider themes and reading.