Philosophy, Religion and Ethics

“How should one live?” Socrates

In PRE we reflect on the answers given by great philosophers to Socrates’ question. For many people in the world religion plays a key part in their thinking and everyday lives. Studying various philosophies and religious teachings gives students a broader outlook, improves their abstract thinking and helps them to understand the motivations and personal perspectives of believers. Students examine a variety of philosophical perspectives that give meaning to existence, and attempt to answer ultimate questions. They embark on a challenging, stimulating and sometimes emotive journey, for which the department provides the key skills and resilience required.

Lower School

In Year 7 pupils develop key skills like reasoning, articulating ideas clearly, interpreting abstract concepts and begin to analyse and evaluate independently. We build on previous knowledge and challenge them to assess the strengths and weaknesses of points of view. We tackle questions like, what is religion? Where do we look for God? What are we doing to the environment? In Year 8 pupils continue to seek answers to questions like, who was Jesus? What is morality? They consider what it means to be human and are able to offer meaningful answers in response to these challenging questions.

Middle School

During Year 9 pupils continue to grapple with key matters of life, death and potential after-life possibilities, as well as considering the moral minefield through which mankind must pick its way in the modern world. This work lays a solid foundation on which the GCSE course is built. The PRE department offers an opportunity to study for a GCSE that combines elements of philosophy and the study of ultimate questions with a consideration of religious attitudes to contemporary moral issues. The course involves objective reflection and no particular religious stance is required on the part of the pupil; an open mind is needed in order to weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of an argument and to reach a reasoned conclusion. These key skills are relevant and desirable in life and are particularly valued in the many careers that require an understanding of others, like law, medicine and journalism.

“Both the GCSE and A Level courses really made me think about how I should live” Ipswich School pupil

Sixth Form

At A Level the department offers a variety of ways to support students alongside teaching. There are opportunities for students to attend conferences, independent learning and peer teaching sessions, and revision days where department members share their experience of external examination marking. Together with excellent teaching this guarantees an A Level course that is fascinating for students interested in philosophical and theological questions of meaning, purpose and truth. Universities have a high regard for the PRE A Level due to its challenging academic content and the implied ability to reason, debate, justify, empathise, enquire, research and write that is nurtured in all our students.

Skills that are developed in the course, include: debating, analysing and evaluating arguments and points of view, structuring compelling essays, selecting and deploying a range of resources, independent research, critical thinking.

The course studied is OCR H573 - Philosophy of Religion; Religion and Ethics; Developments in Christian Thought.

To give an idea of the exam results which  pupils at Ipswich School achieve at A Level, we have provided an average of the results in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics over the most recent three year period (2015, 2016 and 2017). PRE - % A*- B = 93%

“After two weeks at university I came home for my Ethics folder; it is the only A Level stuff I used for my politics degree” former Ipswich School student