Subject Information - Religion and Philosophy

National 5

Head of Department: Mr Peter Bloomfield

Course Progression: Religion and Philosophy

Religion and Philosophy focuses on the questions of meaning, value and purpose in life and is concerned with humankind's exploration of these questions. The aim of the department is to produce articulate, open-minded, tolerant pupils who are able to empathise with those who differ from themselves and are able to reflect upon their experience of life. The skills developed in Religion and Philosophy are valued by employers and universities alike.

Philosophy at National 5 is distinct from the Core Religion and Philosophy that is delivered as part of the curriculum to all students in s3-s5. Philosophy as an examination subject explores arguments in action, knowledge and doubt and moral philosophy. Core RP explores different avenues and explores the existence of god, applied ethics and what it means to be human.

National 5 Philosophy is a popular choice because of the transferable and desirable suite of skills if provides. It is not only a complimentary course to all other academic subjects but a valuable qualification for any future pursuit or career. This course really supports students in how to think, asking what we know and getting them to think about how we should live our lives.

Those pupils who chose to study National 5 Philosophy will sit this level, as there is no National 4 level in this subject.

In S5 and S6, the department offers Higher Philosophy. This can be taken either as a progression from the National 5 Philosophy course or as a crash Higher in either year. There is also the option of taking Advanced Higher RMPS in S6 either as a continuation from Higher Philosophy or as a crash course.

In S5 we also present the popular two year IB Philosophy course as part of the IB diploma program with Standard and Higher Level offered to the students which likewise is a superb follow on from the National 5 Philosophy course.

National 5 Philosophy (S3/S4)

The National 5 Philosophy Course enables learners to develop a basic knowledge and understanding of philosophy and philosophers, as well as deepening their thinking, analytical and evaluative skills appropriate to philosophy.

Units

Unit 1: Arguments in Action

This unit aims to teach pupils to be better thinkers. It really focusses on critical thinking and provides super transferable skills for all other educational avenues. Pupils study what makes a good argument, deductive and inductive arguments. Popular logical fallacies and thought experiments are also explored.

Unit 2: Knowledge and Doubt

This unit explore the problem of acquiring knowledge and the skeptical position. Pupils study the philosophical problems associated with how we arrive at knowledge and attempts by philosophers to solve these questions. Classic philosophical texts from Descartes of David Hume are studied.

Unit 3: Moral Philosophy

This unit looks at the how philosophers have attempted to decide what the right course of action is when facing an ethical dilemma. The ethical theory of utilitarianism is studied and they develop their application analysis and evaluative skills here.

Coursework: Assignment

The pupils get to write a short assignment on a topic of your choice within Philosophy as part of their coursework.

Routes

Philosophy is offered within SQA and IB and the National 5 Philosophy course is a superb step towards any study either within SQA or IB curriculums. It is a perfect stepping stone into Higher Philosophy and later Advanced Higher RMPS. Likewise it is a superb stepping-stone into Standard or Higher level Philosophy, within the IB diploma. If students elect the IB route and do not elect to take Philosophy as one of their subjects, the National 5 Philosophy course provides a superb grounding for the mandatory IB course Theory of Knowledge, that all IB students must study.

 

 

Higher

Head of Department: Mr Peter Bloomfield

Course Progression: Religion and Philosophy

Religion and Philosophy focuses on the questions of meaning, value and purpose in life and is concerned with humankind's exploration of these questions. The aim of the department is to produce articulate, open-minded, tolerant pupils who are able to empathise with those who differ from themselves and are able to reflect upon their experience of life. The skills developed in Religion and Philosophy are valued by employers and universities alike.

Philosophy (S5) Higher

Higher Philosophy is an opportunity to study the ideas that have shaped the way we view the world. The philosophical problems of critical thinking, knowledge, existence and morality are covered, with reference to key philosophers in these areas. The Higher course expands on and goes further than the National 5 course. Higher Philosophy is an opportunity to either build on the skills from National 5 Philosophy or to take the course as a 'crash' and add it to the suite of Higher courses studied in S5 or S6. Higher Philosophy equips students with highly marketable and valuable skills of critical evaluation and independent thought. The study of philosophy at this level provides a perfect space to really develop the student's logic and reason whilst building on their communication and problem solving; essential skills for any successful academic or employment route.

Course Units

Unit 1: Arguments in Action
This unit aims to teach you to be a better thinker. Pupils study what makes a good argument, deductive and inductive arguments. Popular logical fallacies and thought experiments are also explored.

Unit 2: Knowledge and Doubt
This unit unpicks the problem of knowledge and explores philosophical skepticism. Pupils study the philosophical problems associated with how we arrive at knowledge and attempts by philosophers to solve these questions. Classic philosophical texts from Descartes are studied.

Unit 3: Moral Philosophy
This unit looks at the how philosophers have attempted to decide what the right course of action is when facing an ethical dilemma. The ethical theories of utilitarianism and Kant's categorical imperative are studied, as is their application to moral issues.

Coursework Assignment

Students get to write a piece of coursework on a philosophical area of choice.

Philosophy is also offered within the IB Diploma Programme for S5 students. Please refer to the IBDP Subject Choice Booklet for further details on course content and assessment.

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Advanced Higher

Head of Department: Mr Peter Bloomfield

Course Progression: Religion and Philosophy

Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies (S6) Advanced Higher

In S6, the department offers Advanced Higher RMPS as the natural progression from Higher Philosophy. This can be taken as a progression course from Higher or as a crash Advanced Higher. It is a very popular subject for all future courses due to its transferable skills and especially for those wishing to study philosophy, medicine or law at university.

50% of the taught course and the dissertation are focused on medical ethics, which provides valuable preparation for medical and legal interviews. This section provides an opportunity for learners to ask explore personhood, sanctity of life and human autonomy. Religious, secular and legal perspectives are explored on pertinent contemporary issues such as IVF provision, abortion, organ donation and end of life care.

The further 50% of the course is a study of metaphysics that enables pupils to look critically at philosophical arguments both for and against God. This part of the course develops a student's ability to sustain clear lines of argument with pertinent analysis and evaluation. The unit explores how effective philosophical arguments for God are, and examines questions such as; was the universe caused by a personal agent? How effective is evolutionary biology in challenging the idea of a divine designer and where does the burden of proof lie in demonstrating the existence of God? The course invites students to gain an in-depth understanding of significant ethical, theological and philosophical themes, and of society's religious and social diversity that is so relevant to the modern world.

In the Advanced Higher the topics studied include:

The Philosophy of Religion:
A detailed look at traditional and contemporary arguments for the existence of God including arguments from modern cosmology, design and the atheism movement.

Medical Ethics:
A module popular with potential medics, this deals with the ethical dilemmas surrounding new and emerging medical technologies like synthetic organs and IVF treatment. Pupils also complete a module of personal research on an aspect of Medical Ethics this includes an opportunity for primary research.

Coursework

Students will write a 4000 word dissertation on a medical ethics topic of their choice, which forms 40% of the grade at this level.

Pupils need not have studied National 5 Philosophy/ National 5 RMPS or Higher Philosophy to take this course though would be invited to do some preliminary reading during the summer before starting S6 to ensure a basic grounding in the ideas.

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IB

Head of Department: Mr Peter Bloomfield

Course Progression: Religion and Philosophy

Philosophy (S5/S6) IB

Overview

The aim of this Diploma course is to provide students with a good understanding and grounding in academic philosophy. This would give them an excellent platform for further study in philosophy at a top university if they so wished, it would also form a part of the Diploma qualification as one of the group 3 subjects. The emphasis is on a practical approach to Philosophy, studying philosophical answers and responses to fundamental questions through the stimulus of philosophical texts, films, everyday arguments and events. It also aims to develop within students the skills of critical thinking, the ability to systematically approach texts and analyse arguments.

The syllabus reflects an awareness of internationalism, particularly the way that different societies have arrived at similar answers in the search for meaning. The core unit 'What is a human being' deals specifically with the fact that different societies develop different answers to this question but that they share many key features and characteristics. The second optional theme Theories and Problems of Ethics gives students the opportunity to consider the question of universal values which apply across cultures and historical epochs.

Recommended Entry

The course requires no specific prior learning though a good grade in National 5 English would be beneficial.

Topics

Standard and Higher Level
What is a human being?
Theories and problems of ethics

Higher Level
Philosophy of religion
Part 2: Prescribed philosophical text, René Descartes Meditations

Internal Assessment

A philosophical analysis of non-philosophical material, showing philosophical skills´╝îand a philosophical response to an unseen text.

External Assessment

At Standard level two written papers are externally set and externally assessed this is worth 70% of the mark. At Higher level three written papers are externally set and assessed these amount to 80% of the mark. The remainder of the mark in this subject is made up of the internal assessment.

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