Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics
We engage in the deepest questions of faith, life, truth and hope.
1 Peter 3:15
What do we study
A Level Religious Studies develops a greater understanding and appreciation of religious beliefs and teachings, as well as the disciplines of ethics and philosophy of religion. Students develop their skills of critical analysis in order to construct balanced, informed arguments and responses to religious, philosophical and ethical ideas.
Our A Level students develop their interest in a rigorous study of religion and belief and are able to relate it to the wider world. They adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of religion being able to reflect on and develop their own values, opinions and attitudes in the light of their studies.
There are three components to this course:
In Philosophy of religion we study philosophical issues and questions raised by religion and belief. These include arguments regarding the existence or non-existence of God, the nature and influence of religious experience and the problems of evil and suffering. Students also explore philosophical language and thought, through significant concepts and the works of key thinkers including ancient philosophical influences, illustrated in issues or debates in the philosophy of religion.
Religion and ethics is characterised by the study of ethical language and thought, with exploration of key concepts and the works of influential thinkers. Ethical theory will also be applied to issues of importance; namely euthanasia, business ethics, and sexual ethics.
Developments in Christian religious thought provides an opportunity for the systematic study of key concepts within the development of Christian thought. This will include the exploration of religious beliefs, values, teachings and practices that shape religious identity, as well as sources of wisdom and authority. Also central are the ways in which religious traditions have developed over time, and religious responses to challenges and significant contemporary social issues.
Beyond the Curriculum
There are opportunities to extend learning beyond the classroom. Students will have opportunities to attend virtual lectures throughout the year and to enter essay prize competitions often organised through leading universities. We encourage all students to grow their independent learning and we offer many resources to support this. Students have access to higher education resources and some take additional guided online learning courses to enhance their subject knowledge or to delve more deeply into areas of interest arising from their studies. The department supports and assists with Extended Project Qualifications as requested by students.
Where it might lead
A level Religious Studies provides students with excellent transferable skills, from essay writing, developing confidence in debating, to developing the ability to appreciate other viewpoints. These skills can be incredibly helpful in a range of University degrees.
The National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) and the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) emphasised the importance of our subject in the UK. Universities and employers were increasingly recognising the value of religious literacy.
The Russell Group of top universities has made it clear that RS A level provides ‘suitable preparation for University generally’, and both Oxford and Cambridge University include Religious Studies in the top-level list of ‘generally suitable Arts A levels’.
This is an exciting and interesting subject, which partners well with every other A Level from humanities to the sciences and all in between.
Core RE in the Sixth Form
All students in the Sixth Form follow the Core RE programme (one hour per week) consisting of units reflecting Catholic social issues; all topics taught are in line with the expectations of the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales.
We have developed a bespoke course linked to the Sacred Heart 5 Goals. Core RE provides our students with the opportunity to reflect on their world views, through evaluation of current social and global issues. As a Catholic School for all we look to develop the whole-person, which continues into our Sixth Form. The purpose of this course is to develop skills in: communication, team-work, debating, evaluation and analysis and extended writing. Students are encouraged to explore their own morality and ethics by examining Catholic Social Teaching on global issues such as military drone technologies, genetic engineering, environmentalism and social justice in today's world.