Religious Studies will introduce pupils to a stimulating and vibrant subject.
In support of the ethos of the school, roughly 50% of the course will deal with Christianity, the remaining time being allocated to other views of life, both religious and secular.
The department is mindful of the variety of experiences pupils have. A religious faith is not a requirement to do well in this subject: what is most needed is an open and enquiring mind.
The emphasis is to learn about, and learn from, religion. Pupils will study the use and importance of symbolism through fables, religious stories and objects relevant to the world religions. Work on sacred writings related to Christianity, Judaism and Islam will be studied. There will also be an introduction to ethics and morality.
One of the most important key skills is the ability to think. Information processing, reasoning and enquiry are promoted across different areas, which include studying key events in religion.
Pupils will be expected to build upon their previous experiences in order to deepen their understanding of the world around them. They will also learn to reflect upon their own views in relation to those of others. Having considered aspects of Western religions, pupils will have the opportunity to investigate Eastern traditions.
Pupils will have opportunities to explore the nature of belief and religion and to reflect on the variety of religious expression that exists in the world.
The history of Christianity from the Dark Ages to the present day will form part of the study and Hinduism will be explored in greater depth.
Some of the topics covered in the Unit ‘Expressions of Belief’ will include Orthodox Icons, Islam Customs, Lent and Holy Week. The ability to ask questions, listen and evaluate the resulting information will be developed through discussion and group work.
In this year pupils are preparing for their GCSE exam choices. Skills such as enquiry, creative thinking and evaluation are integral themes throughout this year. They are useful tools for any GCSE subject.
They will study religious and moral beliefs and values that underpin individual problem solving and decision making.
Pupils will consider how religious belief affects people’s images of God and will be challenged to explain their own view of God. One unit will be devoted to issues of life, death and beyond with reference to the sanctity of life from the point of view of Humanist, Muslim and Christian perspectives. A further topic of study will consider why we suffer and how suffering affects belief in God.
Religious Studies includes learning about ourselves and others. The beliefs and values studied are the foundation of personal choice. Such study is personally challenging and is relevant to many aspects of learning and achievement throughout life.
Key Stage 4
Pupils study the OCR Examination Board Religious Studies B (Philosophy and Ethics). As the title suggests, the emphasis is on Philosophy and Ethics, and the course will be of particular interest to those pupils who enjoy discussion, debate and critical thinking. The new specification includes a unit on Islam, which is an incredibly valuable opportunity to evaluate and develop a better understanding of a highly influential and topical religion.
It is worth pointing out that pupils do not have to be a follower of a particular religion to be able to study this subject, though Christianity will be the focus religion.
There will be the opportunity to investigate theological and moral questions such as:
- Can you prove that God exists?
- Why do people suffer?
- Are Christian ideas about marriage out of date?
- Is it ever right to fight?
This course gives pupils the opportunity to explore such questions within the different Christian denominations. It is not so much about regurgitating a series of facts but about appreciating the views of others, expressing personal views and developing a clearer understanding. There is also a need to express these ideas and beliefs in writing.
A selection of the following units will be studied throughout the two years:
- Relationships, Medical Ethics, Poverty and Wealth (Ethics 1)
- Peace and Justice, Equality, Media (Ethics 2)
- Deity, Religious and Spiritual Experience, End of Life (Philosophy 1)
- Good and Evil, Revelation, Science (Philosophy 2)
The examination consists of four one-hour written papers, each worth 25% of the total GCSE marks. There is no coursework.
The subject would be particularly useful for any student wishing to pursue a career that involves interaction with a diverse range of people, such as hospitality, law, politics or medicine, for example.
Religious Studies is a highly respected GCSE amongst universities for its clearly transferrable skills. The practical usefulness of the GCSE is also acknowledged and valued by industry professionals.