Skip to content ↓
Blackfen School for Girls

Blackfen School for Girls

Raising aspirations - releasing potential

Religious Studies  (RS) A Level

RELIGIOUS STUDIES (Philosophy of Religion & Ethics)

KS5

Religious Studies (RS) at A Level is an A Level only course - we do not offer an AS in RS.  Students follow the Edexcel Religious Studies course - http://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a-levels/religious-studies-2016.html, which gives the option of three papers from choice of four; all three papers are equally weighted and the course is 100% exam-based.  Students complete the following three:

Paper 1: Philosophy of Religion                                        2hr written exam

Philosophical issues and questions; The nature and influence of religious experience; Problems of evil and suffering; Philosophical language; Works of scholars; Influences of developments in religious belief.

Paper 2: Religion & Ethics                                                  2hr written exam

Significant concepts in issues or debates in religion and ethics; A study of three ethical theories; Application of ethical theories to issues of importance; Ethical language; Deontology, Virtue Ethics and the works of scholars; Medical ethics: beginning and end of life issues.

Paper 4: Study of Religion - Christianity                         2hr written exam

Religious beliefs, values and teachings; Sources of wisdom and authority; Practices that shape and express religious identity; Social and historical developments; Works of scholars; Religion and society; Primary texts.

In addition to being a far more demanding course than at GCSE, a challenging and thought-provoking subject, Religious Studies is considered by many universities as an academic subject.  In the A-Level course there is the opportunity to fine tune students’ essay writing skills, learn about the history & emergence of Christianity from conception to current form, as well as numerous philosophers linked to the many theories and arguments studied and dissected, developing an understanding for context in which they lived and worked, the cultural, social & historical background of some of the most challenging arguments in relation to ethics and the existence of God.  Students also have the opportunity to have your personal beliefs challenged, fine-tuned and re-affirmed where applicable, in a safe environment, increasing their general knowledge and developing as an individual, challenging the way in which students see the world around them.  RS A-Level is an ideal course for any students who have enjoyed Religious Education or Religious Studies at RS GCSE, those who want to develop their critical thinking skills and like having discussions and debating.  It is a challenging subject, both in terms of work and topics, so it is most suited to those students who like to be challenged and also those who work well as part of a team.  RS compliments many subjects, like History, Law, Sociology, Art, Maths, Languages and Science as lots of the philosophers and ethical ideas appear in these subjects too, but you do not have to be doing one of these subjects to do RS and you certainly do not have to be religious; faith or no faith - it makes no difference!

At Blackfen School for Girls, students study for all three papers simultaneously, with Paper 1 and Paper 3 taught by one member of staff and Paper 2 by another.  The table below outlines the topics by term across KS5.  Throughout the two years students have a number of formal and informal assessments to ensure their learning is on track and in line with expectations, both in terms of understanding the course content and hitting or exceeding their target grades.  Within each topic, references are made to two key works, as identified by the exam board.

Terms

Paper 1: Philosophy of Religion

Paper 2: Religion & Ethics

Paper 3: Study of Religion - Christianity

Term 1 (Autumn)

 

Year 12

Topic 1: Philosophical Issues & Questions

  • Teleological (Design) Argument
  • Cosmological (Causation) Argument
  • Ontological Argument

Topic 2: A Study of Three Ethical Theories

  • Utilitarianism
  • Situation Ethics
  • Natural Moral Law

Topic 1: Religious Beliefs, Values & Teachings

  • The nature of God as personal & as Creator
  • The Trinity
  • The nature of the Church
  • Key moral principles

Term 2 (Spring)

 

Year 12

Year 12 Pre-Public Exams

Topic 2: The Nature & Influence of Religious Experience

  • Nature of Religious Experience
  • Influence of Religious Experience as an argument for the existence of God

Topic 4: Ethical Language

  • Meta-ethics
  • The relationship between religion & morality

Topic 2: Sources of Wisdom & Authority

  • The Bible
  • The nature and role of Jesus, including key ideas, the development of Christianity & understanding Jesus’ role in the life of Christians today

Term 3 (Summer)

 

Year 12

Topic 3: Problems of Evil & Suffering

  • Problem of evil & suffering
  • Theodicies and solutions to the problem of suffering

Topic 3: Application of Ethical Theories to Issues of Importance

  • War & Peace
  • Sexual Ethics

Topic 3: Practices that Shape & Express Religious Identity

  • The diversity of practice in the Eucharist
  • The diversity of practice in creative expression of religious identity

Year 12 Pre-Public Exams                                                                  Start Topic 4

Term 4 (Autumn)

 

Year 13

Topic 4: Religious Language

  • Analogy & Symbol
  • Verification & Falsification Debates
  • Language Games

Topic 1: Significant Concepts in Issues or Debates in Religion & Ethics

  • Environmental Issues
  • Equality

Topic 4: Social & Historical Developments

  • Science
  • Secularisation
  • New movements in theology

Year 13 Pre-Public Exams

Term 2 (Spring)

 

Year 13

Topic 5: Works of Scholars

  • Context to critiques of religious beliefs & points for discussion
  • Comparison between a critic of religion (Bertrand Russell) & a religious believer (Frederick Copleston)

Topic 6: Medical Ethics: Beginning & End of Life Issues

  • Issues in medical ethics with a focus on beginning & end of life debates, including strengths & weaknesses of significant areas of disagreement & debate

Topic 5: Works of Scholars

  • Atonement theory
  • A comparison of key ideas I the work of Karl Barth & John Hick

Term 3 (Summer)

 

Year 13

Topic 6: Influences of developments in Religious Belief

  • Views about life after death across a range of religious traditions
  • Key points for discussion about life after death, e.g. relationship between mind & body
  • Religion & Science debates & their significance for Philosophy of Religion

Topic 5: A comparison of the work of Immanuel Kant & Aristotle with regard to Deontology & Virtue Ethics respectively

Topic 6: Religion & Society

  • Pluralism & diversity
  • Equality & discrimination - gender

REVISION                                                                              A LEVEL EXAMS

 

KS5 – Year 13

For RE at AS & A2 Levels, students in Years 12 & 13 follow the Edexcel Religious Studies (2008) course, focussing on Philosophy of Religion & Ethics - www.edexcel.com

RE at A-Level is a highly academic subject; far more complex & thought-provoking than GCSE RE.  In the A-Level there is the opportunity to fine tune your essay writing skills, learn bits of history with the philosophers & what they contributed & why, & the context in which they lived & argued.  There is also have the opportunity to challenge individual beliefs, in a safe way, to further enhance one’s general knowledge & just to develop & grow as a person, learning to look at everything you see differently.  RE at A-Level is great for students who have enjoyed RE/RS GCSE, want to develop their critical thinking skills & like having discussions & debating.  It is a challenging subject, both in terms of work & topics, so is good for students who like to be challenged & also those who work well as part of a team.  RE compliments subjects like History, Law, Sociology, Art, Maths, Languages & Science as lots of the philosopher & ethical ideas appear in these subjects too, but you don’t have to be doing one of these subjects to do RE & you don’t have to be religious!

In Year 12 students have already completed Unit 1: Foundations – Philosophy of Religion & Ethics (6RS01) & Unit 2: Investigations – Medical Ethics (6RS02, Area C) as outlined below & started the Year 13 course after the Year 12 exams in May/June 2016.  Unit 1 & Unit 2 are studied alongside each other throughout the whole year

 

 

Term

Unit(s) of Work

Summary

Autumn Term 1

Unit 1: Foundations

Philosophy of Religion

  • God of Classical Theism
  • Arguments for the Existence of God (Design & Causation)
  • The Problem of Evil & Suffering
  • Miracles

Ethics

  • The Relationship between Religion & Morality
  • Utilitarianism
  • Situation Ethics
  • Sexual Ethics
  • War & Peace

Unit 2: Investigations – Medical Ethics

Unit 1: Foundations (50%)

You study the different topics within Philosophy & Ethics, learning & evaluating a range of arguments from different philosophers, & developing your own opinions & criticisms for each one.  In the exam you choose three questions to answer, out of a possible eight questions – at least one Ethics question & one Philosophy question

 

Unit 2: Investigations – Medical Ethics (50%)

You spend time researching, writing & rewriting 1,500-2,000 word essays (like coursework) on the topic of your choice within Medical Ethics linked to two religions of your choice.  There is an exam, but by the time you sit the exam, you will have honed you writing skills & all the relevant information to just go straight in & answer the question given, in relation to your topic & religions of your choice

Autumn Term 2

Spring Term 1

Spring Term 2

Summer Term 1

Revision & Exams

Summer Term 2

Start Year 13 Work – see Year 13 table below

 

 

In Year 13 students complete Unit 3: Developments – Philosophy of Religion & Ethics (6RS03) & Unit 4: Implications – Philosophy of Religion (6RS04, Question 1).  Initially Unit 3 is taught solely, with Unit 4 started just before Christmas

Term

Unit(s) of Work

Summary

Autumn Term 1

Unit 3: Developments

Philosophy of Religion

  • Life After Death
  • Argument for the Existence of God (Ontological)
  • Religious Experience
  • The Non-Existence of God & Critiques of Religious Belief
  • Religious Language

Ethics

  • Critiques of the Relationship between Religion & Morality
  • Natural Moral Law
  • Deontology
  • Virtue Ethics
  • Justice, Law & Punishment
  • Ethical Language

Unit 4: Implications – Philosophy of Religion

Unit 3: Developments (50%)

A continuation on from the Foundations unit studied at AS Level, following the same principle, but with the added expectation of being able to critically evaluate the arguments made.  Exam is the same as at AS Level

 

Unit 4: Implications – Philosophy of Religion (50%)

This is the synoptic unit of the course, where you study, annotate & completely pull apart three philosophical articles.  In the exam you get a passage from one of the texts you have looked at, & you answer the question based on the passage & all the notes you made during the course, concluding with your analysis

Autumn Term 2

Spring Term 1

Spring Term 2

Summer Term 1

Revision & Exams

Summer Term 2

Not in school