Philosophy of Religion & Religious Ethics

Board: Syllabuses are still in draft form for the new AS/A2 (October 2015)

Course Aims

To enable pupils to:

  • Pursue an enquiring, critical and analytical approach to Religious Studies.
  • Progress in the skills of writing carefully structured and well-reasoned arguments.
  • Examine and reflect on a variety of texts and scholarly views and evaluate their own thinking, perceptions and beliefs in the light of them.
  • Develop excellent independent learning skills in preparation for university. 

Course Details

In Year 12 the outline of the AQA syllabus (which is the one we are most likley to select) includes:

Philosophy of Religion: Study of Religion: God, self, death and the afterlife and sources of wisdom and authority in Christianity.

Arguments for the existence of God, evil and suffering, religious experience.

Christianity and Ethics: Study of Religion: key moral principles, Christian religious identity, normative ethical theories; the application of natural moral law, situation ethics and virtue ethics to issues of human life and death and issues of animal life and death.

In Year 13 the outline of the AQA syllabus includes:

Philosophy of Religion: the challenge to religion from science, Christianity and the nature and function of religion, religious language, miracles, the dialogue between philosophy and religion.

Christianity and Ethics: study of religion, Christianity and sexual identity, Christianity and religious pluralism, introduction to meta-ethics, free will and moral responsibility, conscience, Bentham and Kant.

Entry Requirements

The course builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills that pupils develop through GCSE Religious Studies.  However it would be possible for a candidate to follow this course without having studied the GSCE.  What is important is that the pupil is interested in the kinds of questions the course poses.  She needs to have an enquiring mind and be prepared to engage seriously with the subject matter. 

Careers and Support Subjects

Religious Studies provides a good grounding in any career that requires analytical and communication skills, such as: the legal profession, the medical profession, the civil service, marketing and publishing.  It will be of benefit to any careers that require high level decision making and is highly considered by universities and employers.   An article in the Economist (October 4th 2014) highlighted that ‘a surprising number of American CEOs studied philosophy at university’ and cited high flying executives who hold that study of philosophy makes you a better leader (Plato and Aristotle said the same thing a long time ago...) 

For AS/A2 choices, Religious Studies will complement many other subjects, including English, History, Psychology, Languages, Classics as well as Sciences and Maths.  The subject matter is truly cross-curricular, spanning many different disciplines.

Skills to be Developed

Religious Studies is one of the best forms of training for decision makers.  In writing essays one takes information from a wide range of sources, weighs it up and then develops and defends a point of view.  The ability to recognise your own and other people’s presuppositions is an invaluable tool.  Religious Studies gives you an appreciation of the complexities of human nature and enables you to learn how to deal with abstract concepts and to think about some of the deeper dimensions of our existence. 

In handling information, assimilating, evaluating, and presenting it, Religious Studies has the intuitive approach of the arts, but requires the same rigorous, critical and analytical skills as studying scientific subjects.  The subject requires an enquiring mind. It trains one to think logically and to articulate ideas with precision noting any contradictions in the scholarly arguments.

The OCR course provides a very thorough grounding in the central areas of academic debate in the field of Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics.  As such it prepares candidates well for university courses.

Progression to A2 is contingent on achieving grade C or above at AS level.  Attendance and punctuality records will also be taken into consideration.