Theology, Philosophy & Ethics

Fourths - Year 9

The Religious Studies course in the Fourth Form consists of five principal units of work.

Introducing Religious Studies

This includes an exploration of :

  • Prehistoric life and the origins of religion
  • Who built Stonehenge, and why
  • Death, Burial customs and beliefs in an afterlife in Ancient Egypt and Assyria; China(including the Yellow Emperor); Christianity, Islam and Judaism; Hinduism
  • Native American 'Indians'; ecology and religion

Understanding Islam

Storytelling and religions; introducing religious writing, which includes a detailed examination of the oldest story in the world, The Epic of Gilgamesh.

Introducing Philosophy

Considers questions such as:

  • What is truth?
  • How do we prove things?
  • Can artists or religions tell us the truth?

GCSE - Remove and Fifth Form (Years 10 - 11)

Religion, Philosophy and Ethics

The GCSE explores philosophical and ethical issues in relation to Christian and Islamic perspectives. The specification is accessible to pupils of any religious tradition or none.

Module one, 'Thinking about God and Morality', addresses, in Section A, the philosophy of religion, asking fundamental questions about the basis for religious beliefs and traditions. It covers: Arguments for the existence of God; What do people believe about God? How do people believe that they know God? If there is a God, why is there suffering?  The problem of Evil.  The second section investigates ways in which religious beliefs and values are relevant to moral issues and behaviour. This part explores attitudes to issues such as abortion, sex, marriage and divorce, prejudice and discrimination, poverty, war and the natural world.

The other module, 'Truth, Spirituality and Contemporary Issues', covers the nature of truth in different disciplines and religious attitudes to an interesting variety of topical issues including in vitro fertilisation, artificial insemination, surrogacy, genetic engineering, euthanasia, suicide, drug abuse, modern media and technology (including the benefits and problems of the internet as represented by religious or pornography sites), censorship, crime and punishment, and distribution of wealth.  Emphasis is placed on the development of a variety of skills, including analysis, evaluation of evidence and objective presentation of different viewpoints, as well as a capacity for coherent and informed thought about many issues which mould contemporary society.

This specification does not require coursework.

GCSE is not a prerequisite for AS or A level.

A Level Religious Studies - Specialists (Sixth Form) 

GCSE Requirements

It is not necessary to have studied Religious Studies before at GCSE.

This subject will appeal particularly to those who have an interest in conceptual thought, a capacity for analytical thinking, and like arguing a case and if you can write clearly and fluently.

The two year course is made up of two main areas of study: Philosophical and Practical Ethics, and New Testament Studies.

Outline of the course

First Year

The theories of some of the great philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Mill and Aquinas are examined to address the question of how we should decide whether an action is morally right or wrong. Following this, a range of issues in Medical Ethics are discussed, including euthanasia, abortion and genetic engineering. The morality of War is then studied. Should there be limits to what scientists, doctors and politicians are allowed to do, or can we do anything we like with our technology?

The New Testament Module examines the Roman occupation of Palestine and the sources used by the Gospel writers to help illuminate the background to the puzzling material of the New Testament.  From this we address the question of the historical accuracy and meaning for the author of the death of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel and the conflicting accounts, in three of the Gospels, of how a publicly executed criminal could triumph over death.  Is it the case that the story that handed down to us warrants further investigation?

Second Year

In the Philosophical and Practical Ethics Module, philosophical issues about human freedom and conscience are discussed, along with a critical examination of the philosophical foundations of Ethics. The practical ethical issues of Sex and Relationships, the Environment and Business Ethics are also discussed in detail.

The New Testament module covers six major areas: background to the authorship and purpose of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, together with the first-century Jewish understanding of key ideas; the concept of the Kingdom of God; the nature and purpose of Parables; the significance and purpose of Miracles; Law and Ethics, and their relationship to Jewish tradition.  Who really was Jesus?

Combinations with other subjects

Theology, Philosophy and Ethics has been successfully combined with almost all other subjects; scientists as well as artists have studied Theology, Philosophy and Ethics with pleasure and success. Many pupils take other essay-based subjects (such as History, Government and Politics or Languages) but Physicists and Mathematicians have also enjoyed the contrast that Theology, Philosophy and Ethics offers to their scientific work.

University courses and careers

This subject is a particularly relevant preparation for studying Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies at University, but the wide range of skills and concepts involved in this flexible subject make it an effective preparation for all humanities and many of the social sciences. Past pupils have studied a wide range of courses at university and pursued a variety of careers such as the Law, Management Consultancy, Business and Research.