Theology and Philosophy

Find out more about studying Theology and Philosophy at Westminster

Theology and Philosophy

  • About
  • Curriculum
  • Enrichment
  • Staff
  • After Westminster
  • About

    The Theology and Philosophy Department is a centre of robust exchange of ideas, historic and contemporary, in which pupils are taught to scrutinise ideas, explore systems of thought and ask what it means to believe. We attest to the rigour of strong philosophical training and the ability to think, speak and write with clarity, care and at times creativity. We seek to mine the intellectual foundations of Western philosophical thought and the subsequent Judaeo-Christian culture, but not at the cost of more expansive thought around different cultures, ideas and theories. We are a home to charitable and open learning, and Theology and Philosophy teachers at Westminster seek the wholistic good of the pupils who pass through our classrooms.

    Department Contact Mr Stephen Bailey
    stephen.bailey@westminster.org.uk
  • Curriculum
    Lower School

    In the Fifth Form (Year 9) we offer a bespoke in-house course on Religion and Philosophy in which we allow pupils to access anthropology, sociology, moral and political philosophy and Biblical hermeneutics. We seek to enable pupils to scrutinise sources, to ask fundamental questions and to begin acquiring the hallmarks of excellent oracy and written argumentation. Pupils are encouraged to participate vocally in the true spirit of Socratic inquiry, but to be grounded in well-reasoned critical opinion. Along with deconstructing the nature of religious belief, we seek to help pupils to be more charitable, understanding and sensitive of the nature of Theology’s relationship with Philosophy, something that those pupils who progress onto the popular Pearson Edexcel IGCSE in Religious Studies develop in greater depth through the study of topics such as rights, equality, and social justice.

    Syllabus & Code
    Edexcel IGCSE 4RS1 Religious Studies
    Upper School

    In the Sixth Form and Remove (Years 12 and 13), we use the OCR Religious Studies A Level to provide a spine for our academic outcomes, but we leave much room for exploring the deeper territories of Theology and Philosophy, which includes core texts like Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism and Humanism, and other additional non-specification material like Virtue Ethics, Free Will and Determinism, and moral psychology. We seek to ensure pupils understand the historic harmony between Theology and Philosophy, and the points at which modernity signifies abrupt ruptures and movement in philosophical thought. Our teaching is discursive, pupil- focused, and the pupils who thrive make utmost use of the classroom as a place to form, refine and shape ideas, ready for excellent critical essay writingFor A Level pupils, the department is a place in which political and legal philosophy, medical ethics, artificial intelligence and genetic technologies can all be explored in a cross-disciplinary way.

    Syllabus & Code
    OCR A Level H573 Religious Studies
    Sixth Form Entry
    Subject requirements for the course
    Candidates should ideally be on track to achieve a grade 8 or 9 at (I)GCSE level in Humanities, which might include Religious Studies. There is, however, no prerequisite to have a (I)GCSE in Religious Studies to embark on the A Level.

    Entrance Examination

    The entrance examination for Theology and Philosophy does not presume any prior philosophical or theological knowledge. The exam consists of a passage from a philosophical or theological text and questions related to that passage. There is also an essay-type question on a general topic related to philosophy or ethics. Successful candidates will demonstrate a high level of engagement with the questions and a clarity and originality of thought.

    Overseas Candidates
    There is no (I)GCSE requirement for those who attend schools overseas that do not prepare pupils for (I)GCSE examinations. Candidates will be considered for a place based on their performance in the School’s entrance examinations and a transcript of results from their current school.
  • Enrichment

    Each year, we aim to host an in-house Conference with a combination of pupil and external academic expertise on offer. We have worked with the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in recent years. A Level pupils are frequent attendees and presenters at the Young Philosophers Conference held in association with the Royal Institute of Philosophy. Pupils often pursues independent work for awards such as the New College of Humanities Prize. Academic Law sits within the department too, and pupils who wish to can pursue the Neuberger Law Prize with guaranteed publication in the New Law Journal for the winning prize.

    A number of our pupils become members of the team for the Independent Schools Mock Trial Competition. The department’s close connection to the Horizons Lecture Series at Westminster School, the aspiration for which is to expose our pupils to global best practice with the fullness of interdisciplinarity, drives our relationship with international universities.

  • Staff

    * denotes Head of Department
    † denotes Housemaster

    Mrs Edel-Anne Bailey (EAB)
    Mr Stephen Bailey (STB) — Horizons and John Locke Coordinator; Head of Theology and Philosophy  *
    Mr Teehan Page (TDP)
    Prof. Kevin Walsh (KAPW) — Astronomer-in-Residence
    The Revd Dan Warnke (DJW) — Chaplain
    Mr Thomas Woodrooffe (TDWW) — Head of Options and Cultural Perspectives
  • After Westminster

    Theology and Philosophy is a relevant course for those pupils considering reading Philosophy (and related courses such as PPE), Social Sciences or Law at university. Equally it complements those following more analytic disciplines and offers space for developing coherence and cogency in argument – future medics, for example, can find room to deal with complex medical ethical questions.

"Philosophy and Theology at Westminster is a transformative experience. The class atmosphere is dynamic: everyone has an opinion, lets it be known and argues their point intelligently and with respect. The teaching is interactive, incredibly engaging, and delivered at the highest level. It has shaped me to become truly academic in my approach to learning and essay writing."

— Amia, Year 13 Pupil

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