Philosophy A Level

an old outside statue
Getting Ahead

Philosophy A Level at Havant Campus

Are you studying Philosophy A Level at Havant Campus in September? If so, you’re in the right place!

We have put together the following ‘Getting Ahead’ work to help you prep for your course over the summer.

We’re looking forward to meeting you soon.

Did you know? Philosophy teaches you how to think for yourself and how to analyse and communicate ideas clearly and logically. Find out where these versatile skills can lead you.

philosopher statues lining a library

map of philosophy containing philosophy related words and terms

A Level Philosophy comprises four topic areas: Epistemology, Moral Philosophy, the Metaphysics of God and the Metaphysics of Mind. You are required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the content, including using philosophical analysis (conceptual analysis and argument analysis). You must also be able to analyse and evaluate the philosophical arguments within the subject content to form reasoned judgements. In doing this, you will:

  • understand the ways in which philosophers have analysed the core concepts of philosophy, and be able to identify how subtle differences in analyses can have wider impacts on philosophical arguments
  • understand the main philosophical arguments within topics, through the works of philosophers, and articulate those arguments in appropriate forms, correctly, clearly, and precisely
  • understand the philosophical claims which are made within each topic and be able to articulate those claims correctly, clearly, and precisely. You must also articulate how those claims might relate to other topic areas
  • understand the ways in which philosophical arguments are developed, issues are raised, and arguments are reformulated in response to those issues
  • understand the similarities and differences between the forms of reasoning used in different philosophical content areas, including the similarities and differences between different kinds of knowledge
  • generate responses using appropriate philosophical formats, to a range of philosophical questions. These responses must include articulating definitions; articulating arguments and counter-arguments; and selecting, applying and evaluating appropriate material to generate your own arguments. At the end of each topic is a list of texts related to that topic. You must demonstrate an understanding of, and the ability to make a reasoned evaluation of, the arguments set out in those texts. Where a particular section of text is specified, students are not expected to be familiar with arguments beyond that section. Credit is available, where appropriate, for those whose responses demonstrate wider reading and understanding, but full credit is available for those who don’t go beyond the specified section(s). You must also demonstrate an understanding of and be able to use philosophical terminology correctly. In addition to the philosophical terminology set out in each section, students must understand and be able to use the following philosophical terminology:
    • assertion/claim, proposition
    • antecedent/consequent
    • analytic/synthetic
    • a priori/a posteriori
    • necessary/contingent
    • consistent/inconsistent
    • objective/subjective
    • tautology
    • dilemma
    • prove/proof
    • true/false
    • justification
  • You must also understand and be able to use the language of argumentation correctly and be able to:
    • identify argument within text
    • identify the structure of an argument: premises (including assumptions), reasons, conclusions (including
      sub-conclusions) and inferences
    • identify different forms of argument – including deduction and induction (including abduction) – and be able to
      analyse and evaluate arguments in ways appropriate to their form (including in terms of validity/invalidity, soundness/unsoundness, certainty/probability)
    • recognise and deal appropriately with different types of arguments/reasoning, including arguments from analogy and hypothetical reasoning (including the use of Ockham’s Razor)
    • recognise and deal appropriately with flaws in an argument, including circularity, contradictions, question-begging and other
      fallacies use examples and counter-examples
    • generate arguments, objections and counter-arguments.

Watch the following video and create a mind map for the ontological argument.


  1. Summarise the arguments highlighted in yellow
  2. Choose an argument highlighted in green from the list and say how you go about researching it – try and research the argument and summarise it – say how you found your information (Spinoza is done as an example)

St. Anselm, Proslogion. Followed soon after by Gaunilo’s critique In Behalf of the Fool.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa. Criticises an argument which somehow descends from St. Anselm.

Descartes, Discourse on Method. The argument of Discourse 4 is further elaborated in the Meditations. The Objections—particularly those of Caterus and Gassendi—and the Replies contain much valuable discussion of the Cartesian arguments.

Spinoza, Ethics. Intimations of a defensible mereological ontological argument, albeit one whose conclusion is not (obviously) endowed with religious significance.

Example: I searched in Google for Spinoza ontological arguments – I found an article called Spinoza’s Ontological Argument by Don Garrett in J Store ( and I read an article page for Spinoza. From here I found a book on ontological argument where I found a summary of Spinoza ontological argument where he concludes that either nothing exists or God exists out of necessity. The source of wisdom is called Ethics.

Leibniz, New Essays Concerning Human Understanding. Contains Leibniz’s attempt to complete the Cartesian argument by showing that the Cartesian conception of God is not inconsistent.

Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Part IX is a general attack on a priori arguments (both analytic and synthetic). Includes a purported demonstration that no such arguments can be any good.

Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. Contains famous attack on traditional theistic arguments. Three objections to “the ontological argument”, including the famous objection based on the dictum that existence is not a predicate.

Hegel, Lectures of 1831. In these lectures, Hegel says that “the ontological argument” succeeds. However, he does not make it clear what he takes the premises of “the ontological argument” to be; and nor does he make it clear what it would be for “the ontological argument” to succeed. Some scholars have claimed that the entire Hegelian corpus constitutes an ontological argument.

Frege, Foundations of Arithmetic. Existence is a second-order predicate. First-order existence claims are meaningless. So ontological arguments—whose conclusions are first-order existence claims—are doomed.

Hartshorne, Man’s Vision of God. Defence of modal ontological arguments, allegedly derived from Proslogion 3.

Lewis, “Anselm and Actuality”. A key critique of ontological arguments. All ontological arguments are either invalid or question-begging; moreover, in many cases, they have two closely related readings, one of which falls into each of the above categories.

Plantinga, The Nature of Necessity. Plantinga’s “victorious” modal ontological argument.

Gödel, Collected Works Volume III. Gödel’s ontological argument.

Sobel, Logic and Theism. Detailed critique of ontological arguments. See, especially, chapters 2–4, pp. 29–167.

Write in your own definition of each word below:





Anti- Realism  


Applied Ethics  






Categorical imperative  




Non Cognitivism  












Divine command Ethics (Theory)  








Empirical fact  


Error Theory  









Free Will  


Golden Rule  




Good will  




Hume’s Law  


Hypothetical imperative  




Is-ought gap  




Kantian Ethics  








Moral Dilemma  


Moral Realism  


Moral Anti-Realism  







Naturalistic fallacy  




Normative ethics  






Practical ethics  


Preference utilitarianism  












Right actions  






Summum Bonum  






Work Experience

Whatever career area you’re interested in, finding some short-term paid or voluntary work will improve your prospects of getting a job and can give you a valuable insight into how a company or institution operates. It may also help you decide whether you want to work in the public, private or voluntary sector.

Entry-level work in competitive areas such as the media, PR and publishing is a good way of ‘getting a foot in the door’ and may lead to rewarding long-term work. If you want to go on to further study to become a teacher, a solicitor or barrister, you’ll also need to have some relevant work experience before you apply.

Visit HSDC’s careers service to find out about opportunities for work placements and voluntary work in a range of sectors.

Typical Employers

Philosophy graduates are found working for almost every type of employer in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Opportunities are available in arts-based areas like publishing, the media, journalism, advertising, and teaching, through to
computing and IT.

Typical employers include:

  • local government and the Civil Service
  • advertising, marketing, and public relations agencies
  • management consultancies
  • secondary schools, further education colleges and higher education institutions
  • law firms
  • publishing companies
  • charities
  • banking and insurance companies
  • accountancy firms
  • recruitment agencies.

Skills for Your CV

Studying philosophy helps you:

  • analyse and construct sound arguments
  • distinguish fine differences between views and find common ground
  • present ideas convincingly through well-constructed, systematic arguments
  • write clearly and persuasively
  • generate ideas and come up with solutions to problems
  • be open to new ideas and ways of thinking.

You also gain general transferable skills including:

  • self-motivation and the capacity for independent study and thought
  • the ability to prioritise work and meet deadlines
  • flexibility and creativity
  • the capacity to identify, absorb and sift complex information
  • team working
  • increased knowledge of IT.

Further Study

Some Philosophy graduates go on to further study in Philosophy. This could be with the intention of pursuing a career as a lecturer or simply due to their love of the subject, or both. Other related areas of interest include politics, ethics, international development and sociology.

For careers in law, lecturing and teaching, you’ll need further qualifications. In areas such as journalism and advertising, you may find a postgraduate qualification useful, but relevant work experience is essential. Research the careers that interest you to find out if you’ll need to take further study.

*This is a representation of your learning space and may not be the exact room you will be using

College has been the best two years of my education. All my teachers were great and amazing, and I think they were the most helpful they could have been.

Megan Capaldi-Tallon, A Level student

My experience at the college was enjoyable and productive, with thoroughly helpful people surrounding you, an excellent experience. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was, with the work shop time and experience I had, it was a great two years preparing me for the next stage.

Edward Smith, BTEC student

Everyone at the College was really helpful, and there’s lots of facilities, meaning it’s very easy to get your work done on time, and get good grades. The teaching and support was excellent, they were always on top of it, and made sure you got work done on time and you were challenged. Everyone is friendly and its really diverse, meaning you can get involved in lots of different things.

Conor Ward, BTEC student