Philosophy A Level (New)

Question mark at the center of a maze

The benefits of studying philosophy extend far beyond the subject itself. It promotes independent thinking and improves your ability to produce rational arguments. A level Philosophy explores some of the big questions concerning reality and existence.

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.

This course is one of our new Gold Star A levels. Find out more about them here. The first opportunity sit exams for this course is 2019.



Entry requirements

A general education up to GCSE level or equivalent is recommended for this course.


This course follows specification 7172 from the awarding organisation AQA. Full details of the specifications can be obtained from AQA's website.

Hours of study

It's really up to you but, as a guide, an A level course takes about 250-300 hours plus extra time for assignment work you submit to your tutor. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 24 months from the date of enrolment. Many students allow 18-24 months to complete an A level, but some complete the course within a year.

Exams and assessment

Two exams:

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

Non-exam assessment (NEA):

  • None

NEC's tutor-marked assignments:

  • 1 introductory assignment
  • 10 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:

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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 you can spread the cost over monthly instalments with our finance offer. To pay in instalments you will need to enrol by telephone.

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Section 1 - Introduction to epistemology

  • Philosophical terminology
  • What is knowledge?
  • Responses to Gettier

Section 2 - Perception as a source of knowledge

  • Direct realism
  • Indirect realism
  • Berkeley's idealism

Section 3 - Reason as a source of knowledge

  • Rationalism, empiricism and innatism
  • Innatism
  • Empiricism: the tabula rasa argument
  • The intuition and deduction thesis
  • Empiricist responses
  • Scepticism: the limits of knowledge

Section 4 - Normative ethical theories

  • Introduction to ethics
  • Utilitarianism
  • Kantian ethics
  • Aristotelian virtue ethics

Section 5 - Meta-ethics and applied ethics

  • Moral realism
  • Moral anti-realism
  • Applied ethics

Section 6 - Metaphysics of God, 1: arguments for the existence of God

  • Introduction to the metaphysics of God
  • The ontological argument
  • The design argument
  • The cosmological argument

Section 7 - Metaphysics of God, 2

  • The concept of God
  • The problem of evil
  • Religious language

Section 8 - Metaphysics of mind, 1

  • Introduction to the metaphysics of mind
  • What do we mean by 'mind'?
  • Substance dualism

Section 9 - Metaphysics of mind, 2: physicalist theories

  • Behaviourism
  • Mind-brain identity theory
  • Eliminative materialism

Section 10 - Metaphysics of mind, 3

  • Functionalism
  • Property dualism
  • Epiphenomenalism
Including area code and country code (if outside of UK)

A Level Philosophy Course Sample

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