First Year Exam Paper Breakdown: Ethics NL Question

Here’s a breakdown of a student’s answer for the question on Natural Law from the new spec exams 2016 (first years).

To what extent does natural law provide a helpful method of moral decision making? (30)

OCR marks given for student’s answer:
A01 14/15
A02 13/15

The structure of the answer is very clear and simple with an introduction, four main paragraphs and a conclusion.

Four paragraph themes:

  1. Links to Aristotle and telos
  2. Four tiers of Moral Law hierarchy
  3. Primary Precepts
  4. Synderesis and apparent and real goods

Each of these paragraphs follows the same structure: theme raised, briefly outlined, link to euthanasia (moral decision making), layered evaluation (helpful or not?). Each paragraph has roughly a 30/70 split between A01 and A02.

There are four reasons (in my view) this answer did well:

  • Links to the question (green) – on a rough count the student uses the word ‘helpful’ 14 times
  • Critical words (purple) – the student justifies the reasons for NL being ‘helpful’ or not using other critical phrasing such as ‘plausible,’ ‘unreliable’, ‘valid’, ‘flawed’.
  • Controlled writing – the student does not go down tangents or off the question when linking to euthanasia. Euthanasia is sued as evaluation for NL and the theme of the paragraph.
  • Other names (orange) – the student references Dine Pretty, Jonathon Glover and Helga Kulse
    (Plus evidence of mature language (blue) and knowledge (burgundy)

1st nl

2nd nl

I think the main reason this student lost marks was because there was:

Thank you to the student for letting me use her work 🙂


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