In the Foundation Year, we consider a range of ethical and philosophical ideas as well as looking at aspects of the life of Christ, the Buddha and Socrates.
We are placing increasing emphasis on thinking critically, and developing a response to issues, as opposed to simply knowing a collection of facts about religion or practice. Pupils will be asked to research and make presentations, as well as debate issues and acquire the basic elements of how to assess arguments.
Theories of punishment, rich and poor, medical ethics, moral dilemmas, prejudice and discrimination are all typical of the kinds of topics we examine. Some of these discussions will feed directly into the College ethos: reflection on Malvern Values and universal values is central to this course.
Tolerance of those who think differently, reflectiveness, intellectual curiosity, confidence in expressing oneself – these are perhaps the main qualities we are keen to promote.
In the Remove, pupils have the option to take a GCSE (Eduqas) in Religious Education. The course examines Relationships, Issues of Life and Death, Issues of Good and Evil and Human Rights. It also provides a detailed study of both Christian and Buddhist teaching on a range of issues.
Those who don't elect to do the GCSE course will still encounter a limited number of Philosophy and Ethics lessons in the Life Skills cycle.
In the Sixth Form, pupils can take Philosophy as an IB subject (at both Standard and Higher Levels) or as an A level (AQA).
Both courses demand an aptitude for analytical thought and a willingness to engage with complex texts and theories. Clarity and precision are essential, both in discussions and on the page.
Both courses offer an opportunity to develop more advanced study skills and critical thinking, and no doubt, assist when it comes to university entrance tests and interviews. But the main reason to study Philosophy remains because it is interesting, or for some, compelling.
The A level focuses on Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Religion.
The IB takes questions concerning Being Human as its point of departure (Are we free? What is a person? Is materialism true?) and goes on to look at issues in ethics and the philosophy of religion. The set text at present is The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer.