Panic “My Exam is Tomorrow!” Must Read for New Spec Ethics

There are roughly three types of ethics questions (see: “What would Aquinas say about Euthanasia?” Tackling the Application Essays for a more detailed breakdown) and three questions on your paper – I think the exam is going to look like:

  1. Specific topic – application open (Natural Law is useful when dealing with moral decisions)
  2. Specific topic with specific application (Kantian ethics is helpful when dealing with issues surrounding business ethics)
  3. Application (The religious concept of sanctity of life is outdated)

(These are only examples of style of questions not predictions)

Note: OCR might be really nice again (like in the Philosophy which I think was very fair) and ask questions such as: “Natural Law has no strengths” or “Evaluate Kant’s focus on duty” but I always like to prepare for a few curve balls.

So don’t forget:

  1. Natural Law and Situation Ethics go together with Euthanasia
  2. Kantian Ethics and Utilitarianism go together with Business

This means if the question is worded like Q1 (above) you need to know which ethical issues/ decisions/ dilemmas to link to the topic in the question. For example Kant is only applied to business not euthanasia.

If the question implies that a certain topic is the ‘ best approach’ you might want to compare it with the other topic from that section. So “Utilitarianism is the best approach to business ethics” you might wish to compare to Kant.

You also need to talk about specific issues within the application topic. It is not enough just talking vaguely about euthanasia or business. You must mention and discuss themes. So…

Euthanasia (maybe consider the Tony Nicklinson case or Tracy Lattimore):

  • Personhood
  • Quality of Life
  • Sanctity of life
  • Voluntary vs non voluntary

Business Ethics:

  • Sweat shops (E.g. case of Rana Plaza or Apple)
  • Employees vs employers
  • CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility: including a company’s responsibility to protect environment, it’s shareholders – people who have invested their money into a business, stakeholders – people who have something at stake such as jobs or clean environment)
  • Whistle-blowers
  • Globalisation (companies becoming global so year long produce and cheap labour but taking money from small businesses within these economies so they struggle to become economically viable)

I personally have not been promoting my students to overlap topics or issues (e.g Kant with euthanasia) as the spec does not require this.

The best way to answer any ethics questions is via paragraph themes. I promote finding 5 themes within each topic and use these as the themes of your paragraphs (see: “Utilitarianism is more useful than Kantian Ethics when dealing with ethical dilemmas” Discuss: Student’s Work to help) So one paragraph might be themed on Bentham’s principle of utility and that is the theme of that paragraph. That theme is then linked to business and then evaluated in relation to the question.

Theme – outline – link to issue – evaluate – [compare if necessary]


Remember that my power points are very intense because they cover everything you could possibly need to get an A grade, so there is lots and lots of information. You DO NOT need to worry about all of this, you just need to focus on understanding the main elements and everything else will flow in the exam.

  1. Answer the question – use the examiners words throughout your answer

(Please remember these are the recommendations that I give to my students and do not necessarily coincide with what your teacher may have said.)

You still have time to download this for a last minute knowledge check:


Good Luck!


2017 Questions:


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