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Religious Studies in the Sixth Form

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A Level Philosophy & Ethics (Religious Studies)

Students will be engaged in a variety of different activities including, discussions, reading, writing essays, research, presentations, and note-taking.
 
Students can prepare for this subject by making sure that they have a general understanding of the life and teaching of Jesus and the origins of at least two world religions.
Students enjoy Religious Studies because it enables them to participate in discussions on a range of social, spiritual and philosophical issues. Religious Studies is an academic subject and it can lead to a university course or career in a range of subjects such as teaching, social work, nursing and any profession involving people.
Philosophy and Ethics (Religious Studies) challenges all students to question even the most basic of assumptions. What can we learn from Ancient Greek Philosophy and Plato's infamous Analogy of the Cave through to modern day debates about the presence of evil in the world? How do we know what ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are? Can we even define these terms? Is there life after death and what is it like?
 
Students will learn a variety of theories on questions that have perplexed mankind for many millennia whilst offering their unique interpretation through discussion and debate. As the original Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates said at his trial – a life without this sort of debate has no meaning.
 
With the new specification, the OCR course also includes a unit entitled Developments in Religious Thought through which students will learn about Christian values, beliefs and teachings in a contemporary world. This unit is in addition to one Philosophy and one Ethics unit.​
What is the course about?

A Level Religious Studies is recognised as an academic subject by all the leading universities. You do not need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at GCSE in order to qualify for this course; all that is required is a genuine interest in this subject and a willingness to work hard.

Course Content

A Level

Unit 1: Philosophy of Religion

  • Ancient philosophical influences (Who were Plato, Aristotle and the ancient Greeks?)
  • Arguments about the existence or non-existence of God (is God real?)
  • The nature and impact of religious experience (Are miracles real?)
  • The challenge for religious belief of the problem of evil (Does suffering prove God is not real?)
  • The nature of the soul, mind and body (Do we have a soul?)
  • The possibility of life after death (What happens when we die?)
  • Ideas about the nature of God (What is God like?)
  • Issues in religious language (Can we use language to describe God?)

Unit 2: Religion and ethics

  • Normative ethical theories (How do we decide what is right?)
  • The application of ethical theory to two contemporary issues of importance (How do these theories apply to real life?)
  • Ethical language and thought (Do the words ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ always mean the same thing?)
  • Debates surrounding the significant ideas of conscience and free will (How do our freewill and conscience influence morality?)
  • The influence on ethical thought of developments in religious beliefs and the philosophy of religion (Does right and wrong come from God?)

Unit 3: Development in religious thought: Christianity

  • Christian religious beliefs, values and teachings, their interconnections and how they vary historically and in the contemporary world (What do Christians believe?)
  • Sources of Christian religious wisdom and authority (Where do Christians get their beliefs from?)
  • Christian practices which shape and express religious identity, and how these vary within the tradition (How do individual Christians identify themselves and why are there differences?)
  • Significant social and historical developments in theology and religious thought (How has Christianity developed and what has changed it over time?)
  • Key themes related to the relationship between religion and society (How should Christians respond to secular society/different religions?)
What sort of work will I be doing?

You will be engaged in a variety of different activities including, discussions, reading, writing essays, research, presentations, and note-taking.

How will I be assessed?

There is no coursework A Level. Students complete timed essays every few weeks which prepare them for three exams:

3 exams (one on Unit 1, one on Unit 2 and one on Unit 3), each lasting for one hour (= 3 hours of total exams)
What qualifications are needed to take this course?

The minimum requirements to do this A level are 5 A* - C grades in 5 different subjects including a grade 4 in English Language and 4 in English Literature and one other Humanities subject.

What extra work can I do?

You can prepare for this subject by making sure that you have a general understanding of the key ethical issues that are being discussed in the media such as abortion and euthanasia.

And finally…

This department expects pupils to be well motivated and to work to their full potential. This subject enables students to participate in discussions on a range of social, spiritual and philosophical issues. Religious Studies: Philosophy and Applied Ethics can lead to a university course in a variety of subjects or careers such as teaching, social work, nursing and any profession involving working with people.





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