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Philosophy & Theology

The Philosophy and Theology department plays a key role in the curriculum at Canford.


Our Shell groups study an internally devised course examining key issues related to philosophy, theology and ethical matters. Philosophical questions discussed are as varied with a focus on analytical thinking and structured debate. 

The beliefs and practices of different religions are studied both individually and in comparison with one another, and pupils are encouraged to both understand and appreciate alternative points of view, whilst formulating their own thoughts and opinions on religion and the world around them.


The course aims to expose pupils to issues and questions related to Philosophy, Ethics, and Spirituality (PES)

The course aims to give students more responsibility and autonomy for their learning and enable them to engage with issues in a different way to their other studies. The course is intended to promote a love of learning (for its own sake) and encourage open and honest reflection on a range of challenging and polemical topics.

Course Rationale and Purpose

  •  To offer a chance for pupils to discover their own philosophy of life, their individual value to society and to consider their ethical and spiritual development.
  • To foster an open environment in which pupils can feel confident to express their own views in discussion of some challenging and thought-provoking issues.
  •  To improve pupils’ debating and analytical skills by encouraging them to speak openly and confidently about people and topics that are especially important to them.

It is important to note that PES is not a substitute for the Religious Studies GCSE, and should you have an interest and aptitude for the subject it would be worth taking the GCSE as a separate option. 

Topics currently include:

  • Freedom of Speech
  • Epistemology (Descartes, Hume et al)
  • Mark’s Gospel (historicity and reliability of the gospels)
  • Ethics of War and the Just War Theory and ‘Othering’ from de Beauvoir and how that links to today’s society
  • Concept of Personhood and links to Mary Anne Warren
  • Cultural assimilation and religious mission in Australia through ‘Rabbit Proof Fence,’
  • Medical Ethics – Case studies (Allocation of resources, Jehovah’s witnesses, and Blood transfusions)
  • Boy Whose Skin fell Off – Spirituality/Suffering/Death/Meaning in Life
  • Barbie and Ken – Gender expectations and society
  • Foolish Wise Ones – Autism, Wisdom, Intelligence, Judgement
  • What’s the point of Education? – Summerhill School

Philosophy and Ethics is an incredibly enjoyable course in that it constantly makes you think outside the box and question things that you would otherwise not even consider thinking about.

Sixth Form pupil

Studying philosophy has helped me to approach things in a more open minded way and although parts of the course are challenging, I have really enjoyed being able to think about and discuss topics that I would otherwise not have been exposed to

Sixth Form pupil

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