Theology, Philosophy & Ethics
The Charterhouse Theology, Philosophy and Ethics Department empowers pupils to engage with the world around them in a reflective, analytical manner.
Today, the study of Theology, Philosophy and Ethics is not a luxury but a necessity. We live in a world in which the very nature of truth is constantly challenged, religion still takes centre stage in world events, ethical debate is at the heart of news headlines and people are trying hard to find meaning in our interconnected, increasingly automated world. This department offers pupils the opportunity to explore answers to the biggest questions of our time.
Theology, Philosophy and Ethics stands alone as a discipline which requires pupils to become experts in literature, language, art, archaeology, science, politics, business, film and psychology. It pervades every aspect of our lives, whether religious or otherwise – to study it, is to study the world
In Theology, Philosophy and Ethics, we nurture skills in critical thinking, research, interpretation, presentation and communication. Our classes are fun, dynamic and full of lively discussion where the ability to articulate a convincing argument respectfully and with good reasoning is valued above all things. People who study the subject to the highest levels go on to careers in medicine, journalism, publishing, law, policymaking, business, advertising and international development, among many other careers.
In our courses from the Fourths to IGCSE and then to A-Level Philosophy, we consider everything from the ethical impact of AI and automation, euthanasia, and the idea of a Just War right through to Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Sartre and Camus. There is exceptional breadth matched by scholarly depth.
For full details of the curriculum, please use the link below.
The Year 9 course in Theology, Philosophy and Ethics is both unconventional, challenging and ground-breaking.
Dark Beginnings: The Making of Religion
Through a study of objects, artefacts and archaeological sites, pupils are guided to an understanding of the beginnings of spiritual expression in the human species. From the Lion Man of the Stadel Cave (the earliest expression of human imagination), to the cave art of France, human sacrifice in the Aztec civilisation and the riches of Egyptian mythology, the aim is to see the connection between the ancients and our modern religious world.
This ground-breaking course introduces pupils to the pressing ethical issues raised by machine learning, artificial intelligence and algorithms. Through discussion, debate and fascinating case studies, the implications of new and future technologies are explored in the context of some of the greatest philosophers of the past. Questions of privacy in the context of big data, the trustworthiness of algorithms, the ethical and philosophical implications of a world of increasing automation are all explored. As well as this, pupils consider questions of Artificial Intelligence: how it challenges our understanding of humanity and whether ‘superintelligence’ is a threat or an opportunity.
The Art of Living
Here, pupils consider the philosophical possibilities for their lives. What is the purpose of human existence? How can we live a ‘good’ life and do we want to? Pupils consider the nature of happiness in the context of great philosophical thinkers. Is Hedonism desirable? Does our desire for material possessions improve or detract from the quality of our lives?
(I)GCSE ; Years 10-11
Edexcel (I)GCSE Religious Studies
Our fascinating (I)GCSE course tackles some of the most profound and important questions we can consider as human beings. It gets to the heart of many of the most pressing issues in the world today.
The course centres on two fundamental skills: how to think and how to argue. This course provides many opportunities to develop skills and knowledge fundamental to careers in law, journalism, finance, advertising, international relations and medicine.
There are three key parts of the course: Ethics, Philosophy and Islam. Below are some of the questions and issues we consider.
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A Level Philosophy - Years 12 and 13
Charterhouse offers an Advanced-Level course in pure Philosophy for pupils in their senior (Specialist) years at the school. This is a course like no other, unpacking some of the most complex questions of philosophy in detail, precision and depth. This is not a Religious Studies course. It consists of two papers and no coursework.
This is a course for those who want to learning how to construct and deconstruct arguments. It teaches you to analyse and to be precise in the way that you think, write and speak. As such, this is a perfect fit for those wishing to pursue courses such as PPE, Law, Philosophy, Theology and, indeed any of the humanities. It also provides a superb grounding for those looking at courses or careers in medicine, psychology, finance, law and journalism.
There are four key components:
Modern ethical issues: crime, stealing, animal rights, killing, simulated killing (in TV/Film and Gaming). Alongside this, pupils engage in an in-depth study of Utilitarianism, Kantian and Virtue Ethics systems.
Epistemology (Theory of Knowledge)
What do we know and how do we know it? Can we trust our senses? Can we really know anything at all? Key thinkers, both rationalist and empiricist are considered (e.g. Descartes, Locke, Russell and Hume).
Metaphysics of Mind
This section centres on one of the most significant areas of philosophy: the mind-body problem. Do you have a mind? If you do, what are thoughts? Can you prove there is any such thing as external physical reality?
Metaphysics of God
Fundamental questions about the nature of existence and the possibility of a God are considered in detail. Does the universe have a beginning? Is there any proof for the existence of God? Are those ‘proofs’ philosophically valid? Does the existence of evil and suffering question the very notion of God?
- Mr Mark Begbie, MA - Head of Department
- Mr Edward Hadley, BA
- The Revd Clive Case, BA MTh
- The Revd Adam Watkinson, MA
- Mr Paul Martin, BSc, MA
Mr Begbie came to Charterhouse from King’s College, Cambridge, where he gained a degree in Theology whilst also being a choral scholar in the world famous choir. During his degree, he focussed particularly on church history, patristics and early Christian theology. His dissertation work included a theological study of the sermons of the Elizabethan Archbishop of York, Edwin Sandys, and a separate enquiry into the theological controversies of early church councils in Nicaea and Constantinople. In the department at Charterhouse, Mr Begbie has led trips to Israel and Palestine (2012), as well as Turkey (2013) and Jordan and Jerusalem (2017). Aside from this, he is a keen runner in the cross country squad, as well as a conductor of the Burczyk Singers and he also maintains a semi-professional singing career with solo engagements in concerts across the UK and with choirs around the world. Alongside his departmental commitments, Mr Begbie is also Director of Creative Arts, a role which has involved conceiving and organising Artifex, Charterhouse’s arts festival.
Mr Hadley read Theology at Mansfield College Oxford and, prior to becoming a schoolmaster, worked for an economics analysis firm. He came originally for a term at Charterhouse, then had a brief stint at Stowe School, before finding the opportunity to return to Charterhouse too much to resist. His interests centre on meta-ethics and, more generally, Islamic culture. He also heads the cross-country squad and believes there is a strong correlation between the best pupils in the school and those who run. He also enjoys cycling participating in the amateur version of Paris-Roubaix as well as riding the Raid Pyrenéen.
The Revd Case went to the University of St Andrews where he read Theology and won the Samuel Rutherford Prize for honours Theology. He then took a PGCE at the University of Durham before embarking on his first job as teacher of Religious Studies at Lytham St Annes High School. After four years he moved to Truro School to lead the Religious Studies Department during which time he embarked upon ordination training. In moving to Epsom College, The Revd Case took on the position of Head of Theology and Philosophy and Assistant Chaplain; in his time there he was ordained priest. After five years at Epsom, he moved to St John’s School, Leatherhead to take up the post of Head of Divinity and School Chaplain and, in 2014 moved to Charterhouse as Senior Chaplain and teacher of Theology, Philosophy and Ethics. He runs the service aspect of the Specialists’ Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) programme and helps with cross-country running and athletics in the School.
The Revd Watkinson is a Lancastrian who graduated in Theology from Keble College, Oxford and worked in both the independent and maintained sectors as a Religious Studies teacher before becoming ordained and subsequently Chaplain of Liverpool College and then of Repton School. A priest in the catholic tradition, his interest is in Ethics and the Philosophy of Religion. When not practising 'the trade' he can be found walking the Cumbrian hills or getting his teeth into a political biography or spy thriller. Arriving at Charterhouse in September he confesses to still having to pinch himself to believe his luck at becoming a member of Brooke Hall.
Mr Martin joined Charterhouse in 2019 after two and a half years at Latymer Upper School where he taught Philosophy & Religion as well as running their Wellbeing programme. Prior to that, Mr Martin worked at Uppingham School where he became Head of Philosophy & Religious Studies having also been a Deputy Housemaster, Head of Tennis and the Higher Education Officer. He was educated at Prior Park College before spending a year in the Army with the Royal Logistics Corps on a Gap Year Commission and then gained a BSc in International Transport from Cardiff University. He subsequently worked as a recruitment consultant in London and Tokyo for several years before studying for an MA in Theology and Religious Studies (Bangor). Mr Martin is an avid rugby enthusiast, a broken hockey player and a devoted skier. As well as teaching TPE, he is also Housemaster of Pageites.