Philosophy A Level

Due to ongoing reforms, the final opportunity to sit exams for this specification is Summer 2018. Our new course for 2019 exams onwards will be available from Autumn 2017.

Due to the short amount of time left until the Summer 2018 exam session, we advise students to reconsider moving their exam intention to Summer 2019 and enrolling on our new course. If you do decide to go ahead with 2018 exams, the deadline for enrolling is 30th November and we strongly recommend adding our Fast Track service to your enrolment. After this final date you would need to enrol on our new course.

Exploring some of the biggest questions facing humankind, our home study A level Philosophy course will introduce you to ideas from some of the greatest minds to have contributed towards Western thinking throughout history. This wide-reaching distance learning qualification will encourage you to evaluate key philosophical concepts and themes and think about complex issues in new and challenging ways. You’ll develop a set of transferable intellectual skills that will promote independent thinking, improve your ability to produce rational arguments and become better at weighing up evidence. These skills will prove useful when studying any other academic subject, and the study of philosophy is intrinsically valuable. This course is available at AS, A2, and the full A level. Further details can be found below, or you can contact us for more information.

Would you prefer to pay for your course by instalments? Please see the ‘How to enrol’ section below for details of our low cost, interest free finance available.



Entry requirements

No formal qualifications are required, but essay-writing skills are essential.

This is an online course so you will also need easy access to the internet.


This course follows specifications 2175 (A level), 1176 (AS) and 2176 (A2) from the awarding organisation AQA. Full details of the specifications can be obtained from AQA's website.

Hours of study

As a guideline, you should allow for between 250 and 300 hours' study time, plus additional time for completing assignments. You will have tutor support for a period up until the final exam opportunity in Summer 2018.

Exams and assessment

Two exams:

  • 3 hours, 50% of marks
  • 3 hours, 50% of marks

Non-exam assessment (NEA):

  • None

At the time of writing, please note that due to upcoming changes the final opportunity to sit exams for this course is Summer 2018. For full details view our guide to the A level reforms.

NEC's tutor-marked assignments:

  • 1 introductory assignment
  • 8 AS assignments
  • 7 A2 assignments


Additional information

Your course is delivered online through learn@nec, so it’s important that you have access to a computer and the internet. We recommend that your computer is using one of the following operating systems and browsers to improve your experience of using learn@nec:

Operating systems:

  • Windows 7 or later
  • Mac OSX 10.7 or later
  • Google Chrome OS
  • Android 4.4 or later, using the Chrome browser
  • iOS 6 or later, using the Safari browser


  • Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mozilla Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari 6 or later
  • Internet Explorer 10 or later (excluding IE11)

learn@nec may work on other operating systems and browsers with some restrictions. You can see full details of the system requirements by clicking here.

How to enrol

How to enrol
There are several ways to enrol with NEC:

  • Click the ‘Enrol now’ button above
  • Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team
  • Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.

How can you pay?
It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or spread the cost with our finance offer. To pay in instalments, you will need to enrol by telephone.

Representative examples:

For the full A level
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months

For AS level or A2 level
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months
  0% (fixed)

The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.

Deko is a trading name of Pay4Later Ltd who act as a credit intermediary. They are registered in England and Wales (company number 06447333) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 728646). For more information please go to or visit

AS Section A: Epistemology

  • Philosophical argument
  • Introducing epistemology
  • Responses to Gettier
  • Concept empiricism
  • Concept innatism (rationalism)
  • Empiricism and rationalism on knowledge
  • Theories of perception – direct rationalism
  • Indirect realism
  • Idealism

AS Section B: Philosophy of Religion

  • The concept of God
    Arguments for the existence of God
    The design argument – Hume
    The design argument – Swimburne
  • The cosmological argument
  • The ontological argument
  • The problem of evil
  • Religious language

A2 Section A: Ethics

  • Introduction to ethics
  • Moral decisions and utilitarianism
  • Kant's deontological ethics
  • Aristotle's virtue ethics
  • Applied ethics
  • Ethical language: cognitivism
  • Ethical language: non-cognitivism

A2 Section B: Philosophy of Mind

  • Introduction to philosophy of mind
  • Substance dualism
  • Logical/analytical behaviourism
  • Mind-brain identity theory
  • Eliminative materialism
  • Functionalism
  • Property dualism
Including area code and country code (if outside of UK)

A level Philosophy course sample

Thank you for your interest in this course.

Please fill out your details below, and you will receive an email containing a link to download the course sample.

What our students say...

"I am currently a medical student so with such a busy schedule I needed the flexibility offered by distance learning. I sort of shopped around online, and NEC was the only one that stood out to me for two reasons – the pass rate was unbelievable! That, and the sample course material gave me a good insight into what it would be like. So in the end it was only a question of deciding when to start."
— Aisha Wada