“What would Aquinas say about the Environment? Who knows!” Tackling the Application Essays

How is your juggling technique? Well that is exactly what you ne035ostrich_468x538ed to do in these essays: juggle at least two arguments with continuous evaluation and at least one application issue. But don’t weep into your computer just yet. Follow this writing frame exactly and you will not fail.

It is by far the hardest thing you will have to do over your two years on the course (that is probably why it is left until last). Unfortunately burying your head in the sand will not work. Last year alone two application questions were asked on the exam. So you have to accept that at least one application question will be there this year. See Consulting the Crystal Ball: Predicting your A2 Ethics Questions to help predict the wording of potential application questions.

The application topics are Sex and Relationships (contraception, homosexuality, pre marital sex and extra marital sex) and Environment and Business Ethics.

So here are my tips that may help to ease the struggle of juggling two topics with application and evaluation.

Step One: Work out the Five Paragraph Rule (see The Five Paragraph Rule for more guidance) for both topics – you will see in my example below I have reduced this to four paragraphs as explained later but as long as you identify the main, key themes.

Step Two: Identify the ‘issues’ you wish to discuss in relation to the application area. See “Sssshhh we can’t talk about Sex!” Pointers to discuss in A2 Application Questions for specific ideas that you can discuss.

Step Three: Work out which topic is more convincing to emphasise your argument/ evaluation.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 20.19.05

Natural Law keeps the structure of the essay for two reasons. One because it is the topic mentioned in the question, so by starting the paragraphs with NL means you are always keeping the question in mind. Secondly I advise you to stick with the same topic at the start of your paragraphs to avoid adding further complications. So even if the topic is not specified in the question I recommend you structure your essays using the themes from one topic.

As you will notice there are only four paragraphs in this essay (not the ‘five paragraph rule’ I advocate). This is because you will be comparing two topics with evaluation and application issues, therefore each paragraph will be quite lengthy = less paragraphs.

Please note: the examples above are to show how to structure an essay not demonstrating how to write coherent and eloquent arguments (as this would take a much longer paragraph). With this in mind don’t forget to add ‘defence’ arguments and full evaluation of Virtue Ethics as well as Natural Law.

Further Note: in the comparison section only link to one theme from the other argument per paragraph as well, so at any one time you are only comparing one theme from each topic with one application issue.

See Let me ‘Introduce’ myself: Writing an Introduction and It’s Over: Concluding an Essay for further guidance on writing Introductions and Conclusions.

To view all available teacher and student materials click on: R.S Resources. This digital goods store will allow you to quickly and safely download all materials (for a small charge). These include PowerPoints, lesson packs (with all worksheets and activities) key knowledge test packs (with answers), essay writing skills pack, revision packs and much more. I am always uploading new materials (as and when I cover them with my students) so it is worth checking regularly. These are all the materials I use with my own students, so they are tried and tested and available for you to download, keep and adapt over the years.

If you would like a Revision Pack that contains quizzes, glossaries and past exam questions to help structure your revision, click on the image below:

rev pack  rev ethic


Any students sitting the A2 exams(Philosophy or Ethics) I could not recommend these workbooks enough! Fantastic revision tool to test your knowledge and to prepare you for your exam.

OCR A2 Religious Studies Unit G581 Workbook: Philosophy of Religion

OCR A2 Religious Studies Unit G582 Workbook: Religious Ethics


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