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Religious Studies

 

Subject Name: Religious Studies
Outline of the subject:

Religious Studies offers students the opportunity to explore the reasons why people think and act the way they do, and how we are motivated by our beliefs. It involves the study of the major world religions, and requires the ability to compare and evaluate their ways of worship and their teachings.

In Key stage 3 the foundations are laid for a thorough understanding of what it means to be religious by examining Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Sikhism. Influential figures within these religions are studied, and students are encouraged to formulate their own ideas about what they have learnt.

In Key Stage 4, GCSE course asks for a more in depth examination of Buddhism and Christianity and assesses religious and secular responses to social and moral issues. All students GCSE Religious Studies as part of the Key Stage 4 core curriculum.

For sixth form students, Religious Studies is offered as an A Level, while IB students can study Philosophy and Standard and Higher Levels. Both Philosophy and Religious Studies sharpen students’ skills in debating, critical thinking, and written communication, making them excellent options to study with a range of other subjects.

“One of the key things I enjoy about studying The Philosophy Of Religion is that we are given the opportunity to think more deeply about things we normally take for granted, which can lead to some really mind-blowing moments! The discussion and debating skills have been really useful in other subjects too, because you are able to analyse things from a different perspective.” Claire

 

Course Offerings

Course Title Qualifications Obtainable Awarding Body
Key Stage 4 Courses
Religious Studies GCSE Eduqas
Key Stage 5 Courses
Religious Studies A Level OCR
Philosophy HL/SL IB IBO

 

Year 7
Curriculum Content: The year 7 RE course begins with a look at symbolism. It then moves on to look at Islam as a world religion. The five pillars of Islam, other Muslim beliefs, and the role of the mosque are of key importance. The next module is about Jesus: As the founder of Christianity, a Muslim prophet, and himself a Jew, Jesus is important to any study of religion. The background to his life and many of his teachings still influence people today. Evaluation of religious beliefs becomes important; for example, what are your views on miracles, parables and resurrection?
Year 8
Curriculum Content: In year 8, students begin to study philosophical and ethical issues, giving a grounding for GCSE study. This begins with a study of prejudice and human rights, and goes on to cover religion, violence, and pacifism; the Holocaust; and reincarnation. Students are introduced to key figures such as Martin Luther King and Gandhi.
Year 9
Curriculum Content: From Year 9, students follow the Eduqas GCSE in Religious Studies. Students begin their course by examining the life of the Buddha and studying key Buddhist teachings such as the Four Noble Truths and the Three Marks of Existence. Students also study key Christian beliefs and teachings, such as the identity and significance of Jesus Christ, and the nature of God. Finally, there is a consideration of philosophical and ethical issues raised by areas including human relationships and the compatibility of science and religion.
Year 10
Curriculum Content: Year 10 examines issues of human value, destiny and identity, through issues including euthanasia, animal rights, and life after death. There is also a study of Christian and Buddhist practices, including festivals, pilgrimages, and forms of worship. Students also delve deeper into Buddhist beliefs about human nature, exploring the fascinating concepts of anatta (no-self), sunyata (emptiness) and tathagatagarbha (Buddha-nature).
Year 11
Curriculum Content: Year 11 focuses on ethical and philosophical issues, examining and evaluating Christian, Buddhist, and Humanist perspectives on issues such as prejudice and discrimination, crime and punishment, and wealth and poverty. In Year 11, there is also a focus on exam preparation and revision of content studied in Years 9 and 10. The final examination consists of three papers, one each for Philosophy and Ethics, Christianity, and Buddhism.
A level
Curriculum Content: Students who choose to study the A Level Religious Studies follow the OCR syllabus as follows:

The Philosophy of Religion:

  • The influence of Plato and Aristotle
  • The nature of the soul, mind and body
  • Arguments about the existence or non-existence of God
  • The nature and impact of religious experience
  • The challenge for religious belief of the problem of evil
  • Ideas about the nature of God
  • Issues in religious language

Religious Ethics:

  • Theories of ethics: Kant, Natural Law, Situation Ethics, and Utilitarianism
  • Applied Ethics: Business Ethics and Euthanasia
  • Ethical language and thought
  • Debates surrounding the significant idea of conscience
  • Sexual ethics and the influence on religious beliefs on attitudes to sex and relationships.

Developments in Christian Thought:

  • Human nature and immortality
  • Jesus Christ
  • Knowledge of God
  • Christian moral principles
  • The work and thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Gender, feminism, and theology
  • Religion and contemporary society
  • Marx and liberation theology

Students a two-hour exam for each of the three areas of study above. Each contributes 33.3% towards the final A Level grade.

IB
Curriculum Content: Philosophy involves thinking about some of the most profound questions we face as humans, questions such as: What is it to be human? Do we have free will? Does God exist? What makes some actions right and others wrong?

The emphasis of the Diploma Programme philosophy course is on “doing philosophy”, that is, on actively engaging students in philosophical activity. All students study the core theme of “Being Human”, which examines key concepts such as identity, free will, human nature, and the boundaries between humans and non-humans, such as animals and machines.

Students develop their skills through the study of philosophical themes such as Ethics and the Philosophy of Religion, and the study of Descartes’ Meditations, one of the most influential books ever written. Students will also develop the ability to apply their philosophical skills to real-world situations, and also to “read” non-philosophical material in a philosophical way: recent students have considered works of art ranging from Munch’s The Scream to scenes from Star Wars.

Philosophy is highly regarded by universities and employers alike, and our philosophers have frequently gone on to study at Oxbridge and other leading universities.

 

Philosophy Syllabus Outline

Core theme

“Being human”

Optional themes:

Ethics

Philosophy and Contemporary Society

Philosophy of Religion

Philosophical Text

Meditations – Descartes

Exploring Philosophical Activity (HL only)