A Level Student Conferences

United Kingdom

Philosophy of Religion and Ethics

2019-20 programme

What to Expect on the Day

These are the most highly respected and popular events for A level Philosophy, Religion and Ethics students in the UK. Academy Conferences has a long-standing partnership with the universities of Oxford and Aberdeen, with professors from both institutions on the programme this year. The opportunity to listen to leading academics is a well-established route to inspire independent learning and improve exam performance and ensures the highest quality provision. Every student will be provided with their own printed copy of bespoke notes to give them the edge in exams. There will also be an opportunity to discuss Oxford and Aberdeen entrance exams and degree courses.

During the sessions students will be encouraged to contribute, vote on twitter polls and provide feedback. A full debate will take place during the day and students participate.

Why Attend?

  • Oxbridge Masterclass
  • Promote equity and excellence for diverse learners
  • Target the development of capabilities in GT students
  • Add depth, complexity and richness
  • Challenge GT students with abstract ideas
  • Engage the thinker within
  • Share ideas with like-minded people
  • Meet world-class thinkers

Join us on Snapchat – aconferences – for your daily philosophical thought of the day, plus access to free resources.


To Hell and Back in 45 minutes

Professor Tom Greggs

In Dante’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy, Dante is taken on a journey through the three realms of the dead, with the Roman poet Virgil as his guide through hell and purgatory. In this session Professor Tom Greggs will lead us through different interpretations of heaven, hell and purgatory. Are heaven and hell actual places or a dystopian fantasy for social control? From Jean Paul Sartre’s, ‘Hell is other people’ to John Hick’s ‘Universal Salvation’ Professor Greggs will outline the breadth of salvation and different portrayals of the theory and practice of hell.


The Concept of God and Religious Language

Ariana Grande’s music video release ‘God is a Woman’ re-imagined Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam starring Grande as God. While some may consider Grande referring to God in female terms to be a heresy, it has a very long history, (St Anselm wrote of Christ my mother), but how helpful is it to speak of God as a gendered identity at all? In this talk Professor Hampson will examine the question ‘What is meant by ‘God?’ and interrogate different sources of wisdom and authority for answers. Professor Hampson will map the relationship between classical beliefs about God to androcentric teachings and values and will argue that it is time to re-formulate language for God to mirror modern day values. She will outline the importance of religious experience as a source of wisdom and authority for developing new language for God and outline her own distinctive contribution to the modern religious language debate.

holy bible

The Twilight of Atheism. Is religion needed for ethics or is science enough to keep us good?

Professor Alister McGrath and Dr Andrew Pinsent

Atheists are keen to counter the accusation that life without God cannot be moral. The British Humanist Association claims that, ‘Right and wrong can be explained by human nature alone and do not require religious teaching’. The claim that morality is an undeveloped branch of science will be outlined and evaluated with particular focus on the question of how morality is grounded and motivated. Should religion be banished from public life? Should society be neutral on fundamental worldviews? Is a universal foundation for morality desirable and does Christianity have any modern relevance?

London, Oxford & Cambridge. (Dr Andrew Pinsent in Gateshead, Manchester, and Taunton).

Good and Evil

Sources of wisdom and authority

Professor Keith Ward and Julie Arliss

Is it possible to know the will of God, and how are such claims grounded? This session will outline the nature and authority of different sources of wisdom and authority in Christianity. Close reference will be made to different views about the comparative value of scripture, conscience, Church and religious experience as sources of wisdom and authority within different traditions. In particular the different perspectives of literalists, evangelicals and Roman Catholics will be discussed.

Professor Keith Ward will lecture in London and Oxford.


The BIG Debate

This house believes that the different truth claims made by world religions shows that all religion is fundamentally false.

This is a critical question for multicultural Britain, and has implications for interfaith and interdenominational relations as well as for the dialogue between religion and philosophy. Professor Tom Greggs and Julie Arliss will present different views about this lively topic and include close reference to the pluralistic hypothesis of John Hick and different religious responses to issues of freedom of religious expression.

Julie Arliss

Julie Arliss

Recently awarded a Farmington Fellowshipby Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Julie Arliss is a highly accomplished teacher and author. She is a well-known international educator of gifted students with a gift for making the complex simple, and the simple complex. She is committed to the provision of world-class extension activities for these students, to extend their reach well beyond the curriculum to new areas of knowledge. She is on the examining team for Cambridge International Examinations and founder of Academy Conferences.

Professor Daphne Hampson

Professor Daphne Hampson

Associate, Theology and Religion, Oxford University

Daphne Hampson trained in Theology at Harvard and is Professor Emerita of Divinity at the University of St Andrews, an Associate of the Department of Theology and Religion at Oxford University and a Life Member at Clare Hall, Cambridge. She has published widely on Post-Christian thought with an emphasis on feminist criticism, combining her commitment to theological realism with an ethical critique of Christian mythology. Her latest work focuses on the role of religion in contemporary Western society, the underrepresented field of Lutheran thought and an exposition on the work of Kierkegaard.

Prof Keith Ward

Professor Keith Ward

Emeritus Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford University

Professor Keith Ward is Regius Professor Emeritus of Divinity at Oxford and was Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion at King’s College, London. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the executive Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy. He is currently publishing academic work on the development of Ethical thinking and continues to hold an academic chair at Roehampton University, London. A former President of the World Congress of Faiths and member of the The Board of Social Responsibility for the Church of England; Professor Ward has also written a 5 volume work on ‘Comparative Theology’ which is about inter-faith relations. He is a former Chair of the Governors of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and on the Academic Committee of the Islamic Centre at Oxford.

Professor Alister McGrath

Professor Alister McGrath

Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, Oxford University

Professor McGrath gained first class honours from Oxford University in Chemistry and first class honours in Theology. He holds an Oxford DPhil for his research in Molecular Biology and a DD from Oxford University’s Faculty of Theology for his work in Historical and Systematic Theology. A former atheist, he has established a reputation as one of the leading apologists for Christianity. Author of Christian Theology, Wiley-Blackwell, Theology: the Basics, Blackwell and The Dawkins Delusion, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Professor McGrath is a modern day ‘great thinker’ and his work is a fundamental ingredient of the study of RS at A Level.

Professor Tom Greggs

Professor Tom Greggs

Marischal Chair, University of Aberdeen

Tom Greggs holds the Marischal Chair, (actually a physical chair established in 1616) at the University of Aberdeen. He previously held a chair at the University of Chester. He has also taught at the University of Cambridge. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Scotland, and is an Honorary Professor of Theology at St Mellitus College, London. He has been a visiting research fellow at St John’s College, Durham, and College of Arts and Sciences International Visiting Scholar and Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia.

He is the author of five major books and is currently the recipient of a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. He is in high demand as a speaker and well known for his engaging wit.

Dr Andrew Pinsent – Oxford

Dr Andrew Pinsent – Oxford

Dr Pinsent is an international speaker, in great demand across the globe. He is a polymath with doctorates in both physics and philosophy. There are few better placed to discuss matters of science and religion as a speaker and all over the world. Former particle physicist at CERN, being a named author on thirty-one papers of the DELPHI experiment. He is a member of the United Kingdom Institute of Physics. Dr Pinsent also has a second doctorate in philosophy and is currently the Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, a Research Fellow of Harris-Manchester College and a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford University.

Tour Venues

Emmanuel College

8th November 2019

Wellington School

15th November 2019

Friend’s Meeting House

22nd November 2019

Emmanuel URC

29th November 2019

Kings House Church (change of venue)

6th December 2019

Oxford Town Hall

9th December 2019

St Joseph’s Convent Grammar School

10th January 2020

Brochure Download

Ethics Brochure
download a pdf file of the document


£23 per student. We have access to sponsorship for students wishing to attend but for whom the cost is a significant challenge for their families. Please contact us for further details.


£23 per teacher. Unaccompanied teachers attending for CPD to pay £195.


At each event there will be FREE Philosothon training – book now to secure your place for this. More information at www.philosothon.co.uk



Bookings for a conference are usually made by a teacher or other representative from a school, and students attend conference with their school group accompanied by a supervising teacher. The school is invoiced for the number of students and staff attending (if schools require payment from students or parents for attendance, these payments are made to the school).

Please note that we cannot accept bookings for unaccompanied students, and all students attending are required have a supervising teacher, or parent, with them. This is a workplace health and safety issue, as we do not have the necessary staff to provide supervision of students at the conference, or during meal breaks. [If a school is not attending, and a student from that school wishes to attend independently, they can do so, but they must be accompanied by a supervising adult who is charged at the student rate, and who makes the booking]

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