What’s New? An A Level Digest

December 2021

Introducing our new Post -16 digest of interesting, useful and relevant books, articles, videos and podcasts. Whether to develop and improve your own development and understanding, or to bring to the classroom, you will find fresh ideas for A Level. Our second edition by Rachael Jackson-Royal brings to your attention some valuable additions to thinking about Aristotle, women in Islam, Utilitarianism and philosophy.

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Rachael Jackson-Royal is head of department of RE and is the exams and higher education officer on the NATRE executive.


A good book: Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall

A school near me hosted a talk by Professor Edith Hall where she discussed the life and works of Aristotle. I was so impressed with her presentation that I decided to buy her book Aristotle’s way. It is a joy to read and is so accessible for all, including A level students. Focusing mainly on his virtue ethics, the books offers not only an insight into his theory but also how it can be practically applied today; something that is so helpful for those essay questions which ask whether a theory is still useful. Having read the book, I think:

  • This is a very accessible read for A level students and teachers a like.
  • It links nicely to A level specifications which focus on virtue ethics.
  • It is a good means of exploring the ethical thinking of Aristotle and it is also helpful for those studying Aquinas’ Natural Moral Law.
  • It could be useful for those wishing to read philosophy and its related disciplines at university.


Interesting research: Authoritative Female UK Muslims by Giulia Liberatore

If you are teaching Islam at A level or even GCSE, this is a really fascinating read about women in Islam. It is a good way of challenging stereotypes in this worldview as well as showing the lived experience of this faith in Britain today. If you are exploring concepts of traditional or conservative versus liberal Muslims, it is also a useful read as it introduces another concept: namely the idea of European Islam. Further information on a summary of the piece and for the research itself, follow this link to the RE:ONLINE research library Authoritative female UK Muslims – RE:ONLINE (reonline.org.uk)



A good listen: Utilitarianism podcast, in our time

Are you teaching Utilitarianism? If this is the case, I would really recommend listening to this podcast from In our time on Radio 4. There is an exploration of the background to both Bentham and Mill helping to provide a good insight into the world from which these thinkers emerged. In addition, the historical influences of Hedonism are discussed along with the ideas of Utilitarianism developed by these two prominent British philosophers. The panel includes distinguished academics connected to this field of enquiry. As you listen to the podcast, think about:

  • How does the theory of Utilitarianism link to naturalism and hedonism?
  • What role does the environment and times Bentham and Mill found themselves in influence their thoughts and theory?
  • In what ways are Mill and Bentham similar and different?

To listen to the podcast follow this link: BBC Radio 4 – In Our Time, Utilitarianism


A good watch: Faith and reason, wireless philosophy

Wireless Philosophy has a series of truly excellent short clips which cover most of the topics found on the A level Syllabus. I particularly like this clip because it is a topic area which underpins much of what is covered in the Philosophy of Religion paper but which is not often explicitly taught or considered in lessons. It will really help students to consider whether or not philosophy has a role in religious truth claims. The clip can be found here: Philosophy – Religion: Reason And Faith [HD] – YouTube

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