Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School

Contact Us

Theology (AQA)

Theology is a serious but fun subject. We focus on three strands:  Christian Theology, Ethics and Philosophy of Religion. It is academic and will help you to get into the best universities. Oxford and Cambridge value the subject and have excellent Theology Departments, for example. It is sometimes known as Religious Studies (RS). 

In Theology we will look closely at the Bible and its impact on how we see ourselves as people who have inherited this great source of wisdom from over 4000 years of Jewish History. Close examination of some key texts will be our focus, especially from the New Testament.  We will look at monotheism and how this has radically changed the world and how the doctrine differs in light of the revelation of the Trinity (“God is Love”). The word “God” and what that means theologically, including rival interpretations will be studied. We will try to unpack what we mean by terms such as the “self” (Who am I? What am I?) and concepts such as death and the afterlife: how do our beliefs about them relate to the way we lead our lives now?  Moral principles will be examined to see how they inter-relate to other concepts such as Stewardship and Dominion.  The theology we learn will be closely linked to Ethics. 

In Ethics we will learn three specific schools of thought: Aquinas and the Catholic understanding of Natural Law; Situation Ethics and its Protestant roots; and finally Aristotle’s ethics, a non-religious form of moral ethical training whose goal is human flourishing and self-improvement. More specifically, we will look at a wide range of moral issues and have debates on them: euthanasia, abortion, blood sports with non-human animals, issues around cloning and designer babies, capital punishment and even theft and lying. Pupils will be able to see (at the end of the course) how first principles lead to moral action, and why there is moral disagreement in our culture. 

Finally, pupils will put on their philosophy hats and study very famous and traditional arguments for the existence of God. Some of these will come from a Faith perspective and some will be criticised by philosophers who believe the concept is flawed or even untrue. For example, the design argument for the existence of God will be studied, as presented by William Paley; criticisms of this famous argument will come from the Scottish Philosopher David Hume, a famous atheist and sceptic. Ontological and cosmological arguments for the existence of God will also be taught carefully, as will the problem of evil and suffering. Pupils will also be able to delve into the realm of religious experiences and read such great minds as William James and think about private mystical experiences some unique humans have had and how they relate to our ordinary lives. How we verify such events will be examined philosophically, with challenges coming from sceptics as well as believers. 

The A2 course takes these topics further, introducing rival schools of approach and increasing the academic nature of the topic, making you ready to show top universities in the country that your critical thinking skills are ready for higher level education. 

Theology will enable you to think critically about some of the greatest ideas human beings have thought about for thousands of years. It is considered a very academic subject which will require a lot of reading, listening and writing. It is, however, immensely fun and very stimulating. 

If you are at all intrigued, follow the Master and: “Come and see!” 

Philosophy (AQA)

Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living”; the Homeric tradition thought you should just go with your human instincts and not think about life too much. They can’t both be right! 

Philosophers investigate, in a rational and disciplined manner, the deepest aspects of what it means to be human: What is the meaning of human existence? How can we know right from wrong? How do we know that we know anything at all (epistemology)? Is science a reliable source of knowledge? Is reason? What is justice? Are human beings equal? Do we have rights? Is truth absolute, transcendent, from God or is it man-made? 

Lower Sixth Form

Theory of Knowledge

How can I be sure that what I know is true? Or, is all knowledge relative? Epistemology is one of the most important areas of philosophy today. Questions of epistemology are fundamental to understanding science, religion and culture. We begin with trying to be sceptical about are very own being and see how far we can doubt even some obvious things, such as the external world, our ordinary experiences. Have you seen the movie the Matrix? It is based on this sort of philosophy? Critical thinking will be a must. Clear use of language and argument will be taught. 

Moral Philosophy

Moral Philosophy. Are our ethical choices more about choosing right from wrong; or are they about choosing the sort of character we want to be in this life? Are there any moral truths? How can we be sure? What is happiness? What is the role of happiness in such decision-making? Who is Immanuel Kant and why is he so important? Who is David Hume? Thomas Hobbes? Aristotle? Plato? What is utilitarianism?  By the end of this module you will be able to understand why many people find moral questions confusing – but you will not be confused! We deepen our study of moral philosophy by looking at the question of moral truth.  The question of whether we need God to be good is studied in depth, and we discuss critiques of traditional Christian morality from David Hume, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche.  Students will be expected to read widely on this subject to gain an appreciation of the complexity of moral theory and its relevance to contemporary debate.  They will be expected to grapple with the idea of moral relativism (the idea that there is no moral truth). The course aims to teach pupils Modern Philosophy but grounded in the Catholic moral tradition. This will enrich their understanding of the debates in our time.

Upper Sixth Form

Philosophy of Religion

For some, that the world is as it is suffices to justify their belief in God. For others, the existence of God is incompatible with the world as they find it. Do facts about this world make God’s existence more or less plausible? What kinds of arguments support our conclusions and what are their limitations? How do we decide on the right way to describe the world and from what perspective? If the evidence cannot determine whether the existence of God is more or less likely, then should we see the disagreement as merely a reflection of different personal feelings, attitude and commitments? Does our understanding of God stand up to reason? Is religious experience the only true way to know the living, personal God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus? 

Philosophy of Mind

Pupils will come to terms with the mind body problem as created by Descartes in his famous Meditations. They will learn modern versions of Materialism, which reduce the human person to mere matter and brain states. There are a variety of arguments that seek to show these positions are reasonable and pupils will learn these and be able to criticize them intelligently using other philosophers and their own reason and wisdom. As a Catholic institution students will be in the unique position to reflect on these modern issues in light of 2000 years of Christian Philosophy. 

Possible Career Paths and Courses

Philosophy allows opportunities go study law. Philosophy majors tend to do very well on law entrance exams. The career paths in Philosophy are many and varied. Because the skills of philosophy are transferable to a multitude of career paths, eg. Medicine, humanities, even film making and journalism.