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Transcribe Bentham


A Participatory Initiative


A-levels and Scottish Highers

Transcribing Bentham’s papers will appeal to advanced pupils studying for A-level and Highers who have been introduced to Bentham through their coursework. Students can read Bentham’s original thoughts on topics studied in class and may be the first to discover ideas of profound importance in documents which have never been properly studied before.

Find out more about one school’s experience using Transcribe Bentham for A-level study:

The Bentham papers have been organised into subject and chronological categories so that they are easily accessible to students. Students can choose to view and transcribe a document on a topic of particular relevance to the course they are studying. Categories of manuscripts specifically relating to certain A-levels and SQA courses have been highlighted under the course headings below.

Bentham’s ideas are taught as part of the syllabus of the following  courses:

A-level Philosophy
A-level Religious Studies
A-level Government and Politics
A-level History
Higher Philosophy
Higher Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies

Bentham’s ideas will also appeal to those studying A-level Law; Higher History; Higher Politics; Higher Modern Studies; as well as to those pupils studying the above subjects at Intermediate 2 level and for Advanced Higher.

A subject-specific bibliography and resources for students studying A-levels and Highers have also been included below.

See also:


A-level Philosophy

Bentham wrote on morality, natural rights, punishment and reward, and the existence of God. These themes are expounded in the following A-level components: AQA Unit 1 PHIL1: An Introduction to Philosophy 1, AQA Unit 2 PHIL2: An Introduction to Philosophy 2 and AQA Unit 3 PHIL3 Key Themes in Philosophy. Bentham’s principle of utility is explored in the Moral Philosophy component of Unit 3. Bentham had a profound influence on John Stuart Mill whose On Liberty is a key text for AQA Unit 4 PHIL4: Philosophical Problems.

Manuscript Categories:

SQA Higher Philosophy

The consequentialist theory of utilitarianism as illustrated by the ideas of Bentham and John Stuart Mill is considered in the F8K6 12: Moral Philosophy component of Higher Philosophy.  Bentham’s text An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation is also studied. Bentham criticised William Paley whose theory of natural theology is considered in F8K5 12: Philosophy: Metaphysics.

Manuscript Categories:

A-level Religious Studies

Benthamite utilitarianism is explored in detail in AQA Unit A Religion and Ethics 1 of Units 1 and 2: Introduction to Religious Studies; OCR Unit G582: A2 Religious Ethics and in the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics areas of all four units of Edexcel AS/A2 level. William Paley and John Stuart Mill are discussed in OCR Unit G571: AS Philosophy of Religion.

An A-level RS student from the Queen’s School in Chester transcribing Bentham

Manuscript Categories:

SQA Higher Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies

Utilitarian ethics are discussed in RMPS component F59K 12: Morality in the Modern World. Bentham and John Stuart Mill are listed as suggested texts. William Paley is considered in F59Y 12: Christianity: Belief and Science.

Manuscript Categories:

Reading Suggestions for Philosophy and Religious Studies:

  • R.A. Bowie & J. Frye, Ethics (Nelson Thornes, 2008)
  • G. Dewar, AS and A Level Religious Studies (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • P. Singer (ed.), A Companion to Ethics (Blackwell, 1993)
  • P. Vardy & P. Grosch, The Puzzle of Ethics (Fount, 1999)
  • R.A. Bowie, AS Ethics Student Book (Nelson Thornes, 2008)
  • R. Crisp, Mill on Utilitarianism (Routledge, 1997)
  • Atherton et al, AQA Philosophy (Nelson Thornes, 2008)
  • Jones, Hayward & Cardinal, An Introduction to Philosophy for AS Level (Hodder Education, 2008)
  • M. Lacewing, Philosophy for AS (Routledge, 2008)
  • J. Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1996)
  • Jones, Hayward & Cardinal, Philosophy of Religion (Hodder Murray, 2005)
  • F. Roberts, The Philosophy Workbook (Edinburgh University Press, 2003)
  • N. Warburton, Philosophy: the Basics (Routledge, 1992)
  • A. Morton, Philosophy in Practice (Blackwell, 1996)
  • www.philosophynow.org
  • www.dialogue.org.uk
  • www.faithnet.org.uk
  • www.philosophypages.com
  • www.bigquestions.co.uk
  • www.reonline.org.uk
  • www.alevelphilosophy.co.uk
  • www.alevelphilosophy.com
  • www.rsrevision.com

A-level Government and Politics

Utilitarianism is considered in AQA Unit 3B GOV 3B: Ideologies.

Manuscript Categories:

Reading Suggestions:

  • M. Garnett & P. Lynch, AS UK Government and Politics (Philip Allan Updates, 2005)
  • C. Wilson, Understanding AS Level Government and Politics (Manchester University Press, 2003)
  • B. Jones (ed.), Politics UK (Pearson Education, 2007)
  • D. Watts, British Government and Politics: A Comparative Guide (Edinburgh University Press, 2006)
  • P. Cocker & A. Jones, Contemporary British Politics and Government (Liverpool Academic Press, 2002)
  • P. Norton, Parliament in British Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
  • J. Jowell and D. Oliver, The Changing Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  • A. Heywood, Political Theory: An Introduction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)
  • S. Tansey, Politics: the Basics (Routledge, 2004)
  • Harrison & Boyd, Understanding Political Ideas and Movements (Manchester University Press, 2003)
  • N. McNaughton, Political Ideologies (Philip Allan, 2005)
  • A. Heywood, Political Ideologies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)
  • The Constitution Unit
  • Ministry of Justice
  • UK Parliament


A-level History

The life and work of Bentham will be of interest and relevance to students studying AQA HIS 1G Britain, 1815-1865 and AQA HIS 2S Liberal Democracies: Power to the People? in Unit 1: Change and Consolidation. These units consider democratic reform, utilitarianism and the Poor Law Amendment Act, a piece of Benthamite legislation. These themes are also considered in OCR AS Unit F961: Option B: From Pitt to Peel 1783-1846; OCR AS Unit F983: Using Historical Evidence- British History: Radicalism, Popular Politics and Control, 1780-1880s; Edexcel Unit 2 Option B: British Political History in the 19th Century and Edexcel Unit 3 Option B: Politics, Protest and Revolution. Students studying the following units may also find Bentham’s thinking illuminating: OCR AS Unit F962: Option B: Napoleon, France and Europe 1795-1815; OCR AS Unit F963 Option B: The Condition of England 1815-53; and OCR A2 Unit F966: Historical Themes: Option B: Britain and Ireland 1798-1921.

Manuscript Categories:

Reading Suggestions:

  • M. Bentley, Politics without Democracy, 1815-1914 (2nd ed, Fontana, 1996)
  • M. Collier and P. Pedley, Britain, 1815-51: Protest and Reform (Heinemann, Advanced History, 2001)
  • E.J. Evans, Parliamentary Reform, c.1770-1918 (Longman, 2000)
  • J.R. Dinwiddy, Radicalism and Reform in Britain 1780-1850 (Hambledon, 1992)
  • S. Lang, Parliamentary Reform 1785-1918 (Routledge, Questions and Analysis in History, 1998)
  • D. Murphy, R. Staton et al, Britain 1783-1918 (Collins Educational, Flagship History, 2003)
  • D. Englander, Poverty and Poor Law Reform in Britain: From Chadwick to Booth, 1834-1914 (Addison Wesley Longman, Seminar Studies in History, 1998)
  • J.D. Marshall, The Old Poor Law, 1795-1834 (2nd ed, Macmillan, 1985)
  • Heinemann Advanced History: the Extension of the Franchise 1832-1931 (2001)
  • The Historical Association
  • www.schoolhistory.co.uk
  • www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk

A-level Law


Bentham spent most of his life writing about legal reform. There is a Law category of manuscripts which contains a vast amount of material covering a variety of legal issues.

Manuscript Categories:

Reading Suggestions:

  • S. Jackson, AQA Law in Focus: AS Level (Causeway Press, 2003)
  • M. Charman, B. Vanstone & L. Sherratt, AS Law (4th edition, Willan, 2006)
  • C. Elliott & F. Quinn, English Legal System (9th edition, Pearson Longman, 2008)
  • J. Martin, The English Legal System (5th edition, Hodder Arnold, 2007)
  • J. Martin, AQA Law for AS (2nd edition, Hodder Arnold, 2005)
  • A. Mitchell, AS Law (2nd edition, Routledge-Cavendish, 2006)
  • G. Rivlin, Understanding the Law (4th edition, Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • C. Elliott & F. Quinn, Law for AQA (Longman, 2000)
  • S. Russell, A2 Law for AQA (Pearson Education, 2005)
  • T. Aquinas, On Law, Morality and Politics (2nd edition, Hackett, 2005)
  • R. Cotterill, Politics of Jurisprudence (Lexis Nexis Butterworths, 2000)
  • M. Doherty, Jurisprudence: the Philosophy of Law Textbook (4th edition, Old Bailey Press, 2005)
  • J. Martin & C. Turner, AQA Law for A2 (2nd edition, Hodder Arnold, 2007)
  • A-level Law Review

Further Information

Please consult the following websites for more detailed information on A-level and SQA syllabi.