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Religious Studies

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Religious Studies at AGGS enables pupils to engage with relevant, contemporary and challenging questions that impact on all of our lives: questions about spirituality, meaning and purpose, the self and the nature of reality, right and wrong, equality and diversity, authority, global citizenship, and what it means to be human.

The Religious Studies Department comprises of a team of dedicated subject specialists. Our aim is to provide enjoyable, meaningful and thought-provoking learning experiences for every pupil. Our approach is academic, and our backgrounds ensure that all of our pupils can study religion from a wealth of different perspectives which includes archaeology, history, theology, ethics and philosophy.

As well as learning about religion opportunities are provided for pupils to learn from religion. Open-ended enquiry and curiosity are encouraged. Evaluation and reflection are embraced. Discussion and debate are plentiful. Their learning should lead them towards mature reasoning, independence of thought and moral awareness. It is hoped that pupils will make free and informed choices based on sound evidence as a result of a balanced presentation of the issues in class.

Religious Studies plays an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, helping them to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens. The Religious Studies Department operates within the aims of the school to encourage personal development in its fullest sense, including the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all pupils. Religious Studies also makes an important contribution to the school’s duty to promote community cohesion, prompting pupils to consider their responsibilities to themselves and to others.

From Year 7 to Year 9 all pupils take Religious Studies. It is a popular option for GCSE, where the pupils study a variety of philosophical and ethical issues in relation to Christianity, as well as an enquiry in to Hinduism. These two religions will continue to be studied following the introduction of the new GCSE in September 2016. At A-Level we study Philosophy of Religion, Ethics and Life, Death and Beyond, exploring theodicies, natural theology, deontological and teleological thinking and different understanding of ‘soul’ among other issues. Our new A-Level will be revised to be a study of Buddhism and Christianity. The course will encompass the study of philosophical and ethical concepts alongside a traditional and contemporary understanding of the two religions in a modern world.

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions

Religious Studies

How useful is Religious Studies for the future?

Religious Studies provides young people with employment benefits and personal benefits, as well as social and global benefits, helping them to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens.

Religious Studies provides a wide variety of valuable and transferable skills, including research, problem-solving, formulating and defending positions, critical evaluation, essay writing, independent learning, appreciating others’ perspectives, logical reasoning, analysing and synthesizing data and interpersonal communication.

Religious Studies, ChristianityReligious Studies equally produces learners who analyse their values, who cultivate a better understanding of themselves and others and who develop moral awareness and a sense of responsibility.

Religious Studies will also develop citizens who respect and value diversity, who engage with the very real moral issues facing society today.

Religious Studies is a well respected academic subject at all the major universities. At AS and A2 Religious Studies is of interest to both Arts and Science students. It compliments other humanities subjects whilst providing a useful contrast to others, by introducing the ethical and philosophical issues and helping develop an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the student’s studies.

What do pupils study in years 7, 8 and 9?

Our year 7 course involves a study of the history of religion. As archaeologists, pupils discover the beginnings of myth, fable and legend as they originated in Stone Age belief through to tribal religions of the world today.  Subjects studied include: the Mother Goddess and Stone Age burials, the journey of the soul in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greek Myth, Animism and Dreamtime as well as modern day tribes in today’s societies.

Religious Studies

The RS department is aware that Christianity is the major religion of the UK and many of our laws, customs and even literary, artistic and musical references are based upon it. A knowledge of Christianity is an essential tool to life in the UK. The Education Act and the Agreed Syllabus and national RE Framework all expect that Christianity should be studied throughout school, along with at least two other religions. Our year 8 course begins with a study of Jesus’ life, then navigates through the six major religions, plus non-religions, using Ninian Smart’s Seven Dimensions of Religion. These dimensions encourage an investigation of the six major faiths by considering their social, philosophical and ritualistic constructs and open pupils’ minds to the representation of faith in a developing, multi-cultural Britain.

Religious Studies, BuddhismPupils should have a good standing in the major faiths to begin a journey of discovery of Religion in the Media and Religious Conflict. The Year 9 course explores attitudes to religion through the media, politics and cultural shifts throughout contemporary culture. A common misconception is the connection between terror, extremism and religion and so pupils will be provided with the skills to differentiate between media bias, opinion and fact and understand the core, caring principles at the heart of religion. Pupils will encounter also the rise of atheism and the alternative religions being followed in contemporary Britain. Studies may include: terrorist acts in the name of religion, the Holocaust, Ann San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Ghandi and freedom fighers,  Atheism, Humanism and non-religions.

 


 

Extra Curricular

There are currently three faith-based groups that meet during lunchtimes and are organised by pupils for pupils, overseen by volunteer members of staff from the Religious Studies Department.

Christian Union meets regularly on Thursday lunchtimes, the Islamic Society meets regularly on Friday lunchtimes and the Jewish Society hosts separate events throughout the year.

These groups have a varied programme of activities, including special events and visiting speakers.

Any faith group can be set up if there is sufficient interest amongst pupils, and as long as there are senior pupils willing to organise meetings.

Annually the Institute of Philosophy runs an eight week ‘An Introduction to Philosophy’ course for Key Stages 4-5.

The School of Life also allows for interfaith meetings, debates, activities and guest speakers for students of any or no faith and inquiring minds.

Clubs

Religion

Christian Union Thursday 12:30 13 Mrs Bowyer
Islamic Society Friday 12:30 9 Mr Davenport/Miss Turnbull
Jewish Society Adhoc 12:30 9 Miss Stokwisz

 


 

Key Stage 3 – Year 7-9

Year 7: Two lessons of RS within every 10 day cycle, taught in their form group.

The course is designed to help pupils recognise and appreciate the origin and development of religious ideas, introducing pupils to the basic concepts and practices of religion including: what religion is all about, why we study religion, different types of religion past and present, alternatives to religion, concepts such as awe and wonder, mystery and universal questions, religious terminology, an introduction to the six major world religions and ideas about God. The year finishes with a cross-curricular ‘Journey of Discovery’ project that encourages independent learning.

 

Year 8: Three lessons of RS within every 10 day cycle, taught in their form group.

Our year 8 course begins with a study of Jesus’ life, then navigates through the six major religions, plus non-religions, using Ninian Smart’s Seven Dimensions of Religion. These dimensions encourage an investigation of the six major faiths by considering their social, philosophical and ritualistic constructs and open pupils’ minds to the representation of faith in a developing, multi-cultural Britain. It is imperative that students develop the ability to compare religions, particularly with their own, and the year 8 course is the best opportunity for students to discover the similarities and differences across the major religions and non-religions.

 

Year 9: Three lessons of RS within every 10 day cycle, taught in their form group.

The course addresses the impact and relevance of religion in contemporary society, investigating specific case studies that made the news and focussing on the beliefs and practices of Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. Themes that are examined include: whether religion is a good thing, how religion is portrayed in the media, responses to suffering, how religion offers a sense of identity and belonging, the relationship between science and religion, how religious literature should be interpreted and religious attitudes to life.


 

Key Stage 4 – GCSE

Religious Studies is a Humanities subject that can be taken by anyone, whether or not they are religious themselves.

If you have an interest in multi-cultural, moral and philosophical issues Religious Studies is the right course for you, because it is about you, your life and the issues you will face when you leave school and go into the multi-ethnic, multi-faith society that is the UK. It will extend your knowledge of the religions of the world and develop your thinking, problem-solving, writing and evaluation skills. You will be involved in independent learning, making presentations, research and decision-making and learning to draw conclusions from the evidence.

Religious Studies is not about making you religious; it is about enabling you to think for yourself about religious and moral issues in a critical and enquiring way.

Full Course (from 2016) – AQA

  • Component 1 – The Study of Religions

Pupils will study the beliefs, teachings and practices of two religions: Christianty & Hinduism

How it’s assessed

Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes

96 marks (plus 5 marks for Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG))

50% of GCSE

The questions within each religion have a common structure of two five-part questions of 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 marks plus one 12 mark question.

Each religion is marked out of 48.

  • Component 2 Thematic studies

Four Religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes chosen from the following:

Theme A: Relationships and families.

Theme B: Religion and life.

Theme C: The existence of God and revelation.

Theme D: Religion, peace and conflict.

Theme E: Religion, crime and punishment.

Theme F: Religion, human rights and social justice.

How it’s assessed

Written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes

96 marks (plus 5 marks for Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG))

50% of GCSE

Questions…

Each theme has a common structure of one five-part question of 1, 2, 4, 5 and 12 marks.

Each theme is marked out of 24.

Example questions:

  • Give two examples of the work of the Church in the local community. [2 marks]
  • Explain Christian teachings about judgement. [4 marks]
  • Explain how practising ahimsa (non-violence) influences Hindus today.  [5 marks]
  • ‘The best way for Hindus to reach an understanding of Brahman is by meditating.’
    • Evaluate this statement. In your answer you should:
    • Refer to Hindu teaching
    • Give developed arguments to support this statement
    • Give developed arguments to support a different point of view
    • Reach a justified conclusion. [12 marks]

 


 

Key Stage 5 – AS Level and A2 Level

Advanced Level Religious Studies

Students may opt to study RS at AS and A2 Levels. It is NOT a requirement that students have a GCSE in RS. Nor is it necessary to hold any religious beliefs; this is an academic study of several areas of theology, philosophy, ethics and religions.

The department follows the AQA RS specification which involves the study of Buddhism and Christian philosophy and ethics, with emphasis on Buddhism as a religion of study.  

This qualification is linear. Linear means that students will sit all their exams at the end of the course. There are two assessed components. Students must take assessments in both Component 1 and Component 2 in the same exam series.

Subject content

Component 1: Philosophy and religion

  • Buddhism and the philosophy of religion

Component 2: Ethics, religion and society

  • Buddhism and ethics

 

Component 1: Philosophy and religion

What’s assessed

Section A: Study of religion

In Buddhism, the following content is covered:

  • God/gods/Ultimate Reality.
  • Life after death.
  • The challenge from science.
  • The nature and role of religion.
  • Sources of wisdom and authority.

Section B: Philosophy of religion (with reference to Christian & Buddhist philosophy)

  • Arguments for the existence of God.
  • Evil and suffering.
  • Religious experience.
  • Religious language.
  • Self and life after death.
  • The nature and function of religion.

Section C: The dialogue between philosophy and religion

  • How religion is influenced by, and influences, philosophy of religion in relation to the issues studied.

How it’s assessed

Written exam: 3 hours

100 marks

50% of A-level

Questions

  • Section A: Study of religion – one two-part question worth 10 marks and 15 marks relating to the religion chosen (25 marks).
  • Section B: Philosophy of religion – two two-part questions worth 10 marks and 15 marks on philosophy of religion (25 marks each).
  • Section C: The dialogue between philosophy and religion – one unstructured synoptic question from a choice of two (25 marks).

In all sections, questions may be set that span more than one topic.

Component 2: Ethics, religion and society

What’s assessed

Section A: Study of Buddhism

  • Key moral principles.
  • Religious identity.
  • Religion and sexual identity.
  • Religious pluralism.

Section B: Ethics and religion (with reference to Christian & Buddhist ethics)

  • Ethical theories.
  • Issues of human life and death.
  • Issues of animal life and death.
  • Introduction to meta ethics.
  • Free will and moral responsibility.
  • Bentham and Kant.

Section C: The dialogue between ethical studies and religion.

  • How religion is influenced by, and influences, ethical studies in relation to the issues studied.

How it’s assessed

Written exam: 3 hours

100 marks

50% of A-level

Questions

  • Section A: Study of religion – one two-part question worth 10 marks and 15 marks relating to the religion chosen (25 marks).
  • Section B: Ethics and religion – two two-part questions worth 10 marks and 15 marks (25 marks each).
  • Section C: The dialogue between ethical studies and religion – one unstructured synoptic question from a choice of two (25 marks).

Example questions:

Component 1:

  1. Examine how Buddhist teaching helps Buddhists respond to the challenge of secularisation. [10 marks]
  2. ‘Religion has a positive impact on society.’

Assess this view with reference to Buddhism. [15 marks]

  1. Examine how faith in God may be challenged by natural and moral evil. [10 marks]
  2. ‘Belief in an afterlife is reasonable.’

Critically discuss and evaluate this view with reference to the dialogue between Buddhism and Philosophy. [25 marks]

Component 2:

  1. Examine why there are different views in Buddhism concerning the issues of:
    • marriage
    • homosexuality

You should refer to both issues. [10 marks]

  1. ‘Buddhist feminism has had little impact on Buddhism.’

Assess this view. [15 marks]

  1. Examine differing views about the use of conscience as a guide to moral decision making. [10 marks]
  2. ‘Buddhist understandings of the status and rights of animals have been undermined by ethical studies into animal rights.’
  3. Critically discuss and evaluate this view with reference to the dialogue between Buddhism and ethical studies. [25 marks]

 

Why not check out our examination results? Click here to see our latest A-Level RS results.

Further details can be obtained from school or from the AQA website.