Religious studies at A level offers a window to a higher level theological and philosophical discussion.
We encourage students to discover truth for themselves, to develop the ability to articulate their own worldview, and to adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach. In the course students explore religious, ethical and existential questions through rational and critical enquiry and by studying the language and concepts people have used to talk about God.
A level religious studies offers students the opportunity to gain a thorough grounding in key Western philosophical concepts, themes, ideas and techniques and develop their skills of analysis and reasoning. It also helps students learn to form their own judgements and how to express them coherently, as well as how to contribute to the process of debate. The skills learnt can be applied successfully to other academic subjects and to the many theories and arguments students encounter in their everyday lives.
Students do not need to have taken a GCSE in religious studies in order to take the subject at A level but they should be interested in philosophical ideas and writing evaluative essays.
- Learning journey - Lower Sixth
Students explore the philosophy of religion arguments for the existence of God; evil and suffering; religious experience and language; miracles; and self and life after death.
Students also take a module in ethics and religion including ethical theories; issues of human life and death; issues of animal life and death; introduction to meta ethics; free will and moral responsibility; conscience; and Bentham and Kant.
- Learning journey - Upper Sixth
In the Upper Sixth students carry out a study of Christianity including sources of wisdom and authority; God/gods/ultimate reality; self, death and the afterlife; good conduct and key moral principles; expression of religious identity; religion, gender and sexuality; religion and science; religion and secularisation; and religion and religious pluralism.
They also explore the dialogue between philosophy of religion and religion: how religion is influenced by, and has an influence on philosophy of religion in relation to the issues studied.
The final element is on the dialogue between ethical studies and religion: how religion is influenced by, and has an influence on ethical studies in relation to the issues studied.
- Providing stretch
Students can attend study conferences in London and Cambridge to consolidate their knowledge and stretch their understanding. There are also opportunities for students to opt into smaller trips in and around the area on topics as diverse as Science Fiction and Religion, The Selfie and Identity, An Evening with Rabbi Lionel Blue and The Forgiveness Project Annual Lecture.
We have a well-stocked departmental library, including university-level study guides to primary tracts of the world’s great thinkers, and encourage students to read widely. Suggested texts on our wider reading list include Chadwicks The Early Church, William Reaper’s A Beginner’s Guide to Ideas and Toulmin’s Cosmopolis. There are many good journals and newspapers at students’ disposal, including The Church Times and Dialogue magazine.
- Beyond the classroom
The student-led Think Society meets weekly for philosophical debate. Religious studies students also enjoy our F.R. Leavis Society seminars, designed to encourage interdisciplinary thought across the arts and humanities.
Senior Debating Society provides an excellent opportunity to develop the ability to form and sustain an argument. Debates are held on a fortnightly basis and there are lots of chances to participate in external competitions and workshops.
The lunchtime lectures in our 42 society programme often raise interesting philosophical and ethics questions, and students have heard from Dr Rowan Williams (on the topic of religion and creativity), Professor Philip Graham (on assisted dying), and Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger (on the moral choices facing society).
- Religious studies at university
We provide 1:1 support for those considering a university degree in the subject, helping students with their applications and discussing wider themes and reading.