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Religious Studies is an excellent choice at A Level for anyone keen to study the ‘big’ questions of meaning, purpose, belief and how we decide what is right or wrong. The course is structured around the disciplines of ethics, the philosophy of religion and theology.

OCR H573

A Level Religious Studies

The ethics strand deals with questions like ‘What makes an action right or wrong?’, ‘What is the conscience?’ and ‘Is euthanasia ever acceptable?’. In the philosophy of religion, questions such as, ‘Do humans have souls?’, ‘Does God exist?’ and ‘Is religious language meaningful?’ are explored. The theology strand (called Developments in Christian Thought) considers questions such as ‘Was Jesus more than a political liberator?’, ‘Would God deny any human being salvation?’ and ‘Is the idea of family culturally determined?’. 

You will learn about the ways in which important philosophers and theologians, such as Descartes, Kant and Augustine, have approached many of the important questions of human existence. The course will also enable you to develop your skills in argument and in assessment of different points of view, as well as to write fluent, well-argued and well-constructed essays on a variety of themes.

It is a successful complement to any A Level choice.

Course content

The course will consist of three papers:

  • Philosophy of Religion - A variety of philosophical issues and questions will be studied as well as an exploration of philosophical language through key concepts and thinkers.

  • Religion and Ethics - A study of ethical language and thought through significant concepts and key thinkers. Normative ethical theories will be studied and applied to contemporary issues.

  • Developments in Religious Thought - A systematic study of Christianity which will include a look at teachings, sources of authority, how traditions have developed over time as well as responses to challenges and contemporary social issues.

Assessment

 Paper 1: Philosophy of Religion

2 hours. 33.3%

3 essays out of a choice of 4.

Paper 2: Religion and Ethics

2 hours. 33.3%.

3 essays out of a choice of 4.

Paper 3: Developments in Religious Thought

2 hours. 33.3%.

3 essays out of a choice of 4.

FAQs

Do students need to be religious to study the course? 
Religious Studies is appropriate for people of any religious belief or none. There is no requirement of knowledge of any religion or commitment to any faith or set of beliefs. Examiners are not interested in judging your personal beliefs but in assessing your skills in criticising or defending ideas and arguments.
Do students need to have studied RS GCSE in order to study the course? 
Some students who take RS at A Level have studied the subject at GCSE, but this is by no means essential. Some of our most successful students have had very little or no background in the subject.
How does A Level RS differ from A Level Philosophy? 
There is a great deal of overlap between the RS course offered at SPF and the A Level Philosophy course offered at other sixth forms. Common to both is the study of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion. But in addition to these strands, the RS course also has a theology component, which considers the key theological ideas and issues which have shaped Christianity and have continued relevance in society today.
What do RS students go on to study at university?
 

Many students develop a real passion for the subject in the sixth form and decide to continue with it at university whether this is by combining Philosophy and Theology, by focusing on one of these two strands or combining one of them with another subject.

Popular pathways for other RS students include Law, Liberal Arts and Medicine. However, the analytical and evaluative skills engendered by the subject - being able to think and write clearly and critically, constructing logical and well-justified arguments - are highly valued in a wide range of academic contexts.