Religious studies

Looking at the religions of the world allows us to consider their different answers to some of life’s most difficult questions:  Why do bad things happen?  Is there an afterlife?  How do you know when something is right or wrong?   What do I think about these ideas myself?  It also helps us understand how the different cultures and communities in today’s world have developed in the way that they have.

The RE syllabus involves students learning about religion and from religion.

Key stage 3

Students develop an understanding of the key features of different religious beliefs, and consider how and why followers put these beliefs into practice.  Topics include a study of religious founders such as Jesus, Muhammad and Gotama Buddha, and their key teachings.  Themes such as “festivals” and “places of worship” are also explored.  Issues such as poverty and the environment are also examined from a religious and social perspective, reflecting on how moral values are applied to different aspects of contemporary life and considering what students’ own responses might be.

We aim to enable students to learn in a variety of ways: through research and discussion, through project work, but also through a variety of media such as drama or art.  We celebrate creativity and recognise that independent learning skills can be developed in many ways.

Key stage 4

All students follow the OCR GCSE short course in philosophy and ethics, leading to a qualification equivalent to half a full GCSE.  It is a course for those who like to think and argue.  It examines issues as wide-ranging as medical ethics, equality, criminal justice and war.  Students develop the ability to select, explain and evaluate relevant information, and to structure a clear response.  A wide range of both religious and social views are debated, which makes this an interesting and stimulating subject.

Students also have the option to study the subject as a full course GCSE.

Key stage 5

The A level course in philosophy and ethics requires the student to come to terms with some of the ethical and philosophical traditions that have shaped the history and morality of western society.  It is a rigorous academic subject dealing with complex concepts and problems, which students find both stimulating and challenging.  Students consider the views of philosophers both ancient and modern, from Plato and Aristotle to Russell and Dawkins, as well as theologians from Aquinas or Augustine to Swinburne or Hick.   What role does religion have to play in a highly scientific and technologically developed world?  What is the correct approach to sensitive issues such as abortion or euthanasia?  What do ideas such as “right” or “wrong” mean in these situations?

This is always a lively and invigorating course which encourages students to think seriously and formulate a reasoned, balanced line of argument.  They are guaranteed never to think superficially again!