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Religious Studies

Why Religion, Ethics and Philosophy?

Would you like to develop an understanding of culture and ethics in contemporary society? Debate philosophical questions such as ‘What is the meaning of life?’ or answer questions on why the problem of evil exists? If you enjoy contemplating the different perspectives people have on controversial topics such as abortion and euthanasia then Religion, Ethics and Philosophy could be for you.

In a multicultural country a study of religion is more important than ever. It can make us better thinkers, better students and ultimately, better people. Without an understanding of religion we cannot understand history, art, literature, or our legal system. What other subject encourages discussion and debate in the same way?

Every day we are surrounded by issues that force us to question what other people think and why. Airing subjects such as the use of nuclear weapons as a deterrent or animal experimentation for medical research helps us to understand the world in which we live. Religious Studies A level provides an excellent foundation for a range of careers – from medicine to public service to business. Imagine how better prepared a doctor or business professional is if they understand the culture and customs of the individuals they are treating or dealing with. Or how a broad and deep knowledge of different world faiths and beliefs can help young people truly understand the context of events in the Middle East.

Summary of content

GCE AS and A level Religious Studies are designed to enable learners to develop their interest in, and enthusiasm for, a study of religion and its place in the wider world.

The AS specification contains two units which include a wide range of topics for consideration, including an in-depth and broad study of one of the six major world religions, religion and ethics and philosophy of religion.

The A level specification allows learners to continue their systematic study of a world religion, religion and ethics, philosophy of religion or textual studies.

Units

AS - Unit 1 - An Introduction to the Study of Religion

Written examination: 1 hour 15 minutes

15% of qualification; 60 marks

Learners will be assessed on one of the following options from a choice of six:

  • Option A – An Introduction to the Study of Christianity
  • Option B - An Introduction to the Study of Islam
  • Option C - An Introduction to the Study of Judaism
  • Option D - An Introduction to the Study of Buddhism
  • Option E - An Introduction to the Study of Hinduism
  • Option F - An Introduction to the Study of Sikhism

All options are developed through the same four thematic approaches:

  • Theme 1: Religious figures and sacred texts (part 1)
  • Theme 2: Religious concepts
  • Theme 3: Religious life
  • Theme 4: Religious practices that shape religious identity (part 1)

AS - Unit 2 - An Introduction to Religion and Ethics

Written examination: 1 hour 45 minutes

25% of qualification; 120 marks

Section A: An Introduction to Religion and Ethics

  • Theme 1: Ethical Thought
  • Theme 2: Aquinas’ Natural Law - a religious approach to ethics
  • Theme 3: Situation Ethics – a religious approach to ethics
  • Theme 4: Utilitarianism – a non-religious approach to ethics

Section B: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion

  • Theme 1: Arguments for the existence of God - inductive
  • Theme 2: Arguments for the existence of God - deductive
  • Theme 3: Challenges to religious belief (part 1) - the problem of evil and suffering
  • Theme 4: Religious Experience (part 1)

A2 - Unit 3 - A Study of Religion

Written examination: 1 hour 30 mins

20% of qualification; 90 marks

Learners will be assessed on one of the following options from a choice of six:

  • Option A: A Study of Christianity
  • Option B: A Study of Islam
  • Option C: A Study of Judaism
  • Option D: A Study of Buddhism
  • Option E: A Study of Hinduism
  • Option F: A Study of Sikhism

All options are developed through the same four thematic approaches:

  • Theme 1: Religious figures and sacred texts (part 2)
  • Theme 2: Significant historical developments in religious thought
  • Theme 3: Significant social developments in religious thought
  • Theme 4: Religious practices that shape religious identity (part 2)

Note: With one exception, for A level learners, the religion chosen for AS Unit 1 must also be studied for A level Unit 3.

The only exception being that learners who study Unit 1 Option A: Christianity for AS can study either Unit 3 Option A: Christianity or Unit 6: Textual Studies (New Testament) for A level.

A2 - Unit 4 - Religion and Ethics

Written examination: 1 hour 30 minutes

20% of qualification; 90 marks

  • Theme 1: Ethical Thought (part 2)
  • Theme 2: Deontological Ethics
  • Theme 3: Determinism
  • Theme 4: Free Will

A2 - Unit 5 - Philosophy of Religion

Written examination: 1 hour 30 minutes

20% of qualification; 90 marks

This unit provides learners with the opportunity to undertake an in-depth and broad study of fundamental philosophical themes, ranging from arguments for the existence of God to the use of religious language.

  • Theme 1: Challenges to religious belief (part 2)
  • Theme 2: Religious experience (part 2)
  • Theme 3: Religious language (part 1)
  • Theme 4: Religious language (part 2)

A2 - Unit 6 - Textual Studies: New Testament

Written examination: 1 hour 30 minutes

20% of qualification; 90 marks

This unit provides learners with the opportunity to undertake an in-depth and broad study of issues ranging from modern scholarship’s views on the biblical accounts of the miracles of Jesus to their views on Apocalyptic literature.

  • Theme 1: New Testament Literature - Parables
  • Theme 2: New Testament Literature - Miracles
  • Theme 3: New Testament Literature - The Letters (1 Peter)
  • Theme 4: New Testament Literature - Apocalyptic

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