A Level Religious Studies

 

What is it about at sixth-form level?

Is there a God? How should we live? This course approaches these fundamental questions in a distinctively philo- sophical way. You explore different arguments for God’s existence based on observation and reason, and a variety of responses to these arguments. You compare different theories of ethics from across the ages, looking at what they have to say about some very modern ethical problems. The importance of religious belief is being questioned today like never before and you will develop the skills to look at these issues in a sophisticated and critical way.

Both Philosophy of Religion and Ethics have been influenced by Ancient Greek philosophers; these form a starting point for our studies. We examine Judaeo-Christian thought and the problems for religion in the 21st century. The course aims to encourage an enquiring, critical and empathetic consideration of some of the questions people ask about life, God and the universe. Wherever you stand, there is much to be learned and admired from the complexity and subtlety with which theists, agnostics and atheists have addressed the sorts of questions that fascinate everyone.

Lower sixth

For AS there are three papers. In Paper 1 (Philosophy of Religion) you look at ancient philosophical influences on religion and the nature of the soul, mind and body. Three famous arguments for the existence of God: the teleological, cosmological and ontological arguments are examined. You then consider whether evil presents a challenge for theists, and examine the nature and influence of religious experiences. In Paper 2 (Religion and Ethics) you study ethical theories: Kantian Ethics, Natural Moral Law, Situation Ethics and Utilitarianism. You then apply these theories to debates regarding Euthanasia and Business Ethics. In Paper 3 (Developments in Christian Thought) you explore Augustine’s teaching on human nature, Death and the afterlife, Knowledge of God, the person of Jesus Christ, moral principles and moral action.

Upper sixth

The full A level qualification consists of the same three papers covered at AS, with added breadth of material. In Paper 1 (Philosophy of Religion) you examine issues concerning the nature and attributes of God and religious language. In Paper 2 (Religion and Ethics) you study Meta-ethics, conscience according to Aquinas and Freud, and Sexual Ethics. In Paper 3 (Developments in Christian Thought) you examine Religious pluralism and theology, Religious pluralism and society, Gender and society, Gender and theology, the challenges of secularism, and Liberation theology and Marx.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Religious Studies is a much-respected subject. It introduces perennially fascinating theological and philosophical problems that engage you and develop your critical and analytical skills. You learn to think in abstract ways and to challenge your own beliefs. You develop the ability to read and understand complex ideas and the ability to articulate them clearly in essays. All of these are valuable skills across a wide range of disciplines, making it a subject universities look favourably on.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You do not need Religious Studies GCSE or indeed any other particular qualifications to study the subject at A level. You should be aware that the course requires a good deal of reading and writing and a capacity for logical thought.

How is the course assessed?

Lower sixth

All three AS papers are assessed by 1 hour 15 minute written exams, each worth a third of the overall qualification. Each paper will contain four essay questions of which you choose two essays to answer. Each essay will be worth 30 marks. 

Upper sixth

All three A level papers are assessed by 2 hour written exams, each worth a third of the overall qualification. Each paper will contain five essay questions of which you choose three essays to answer. Each essay will be worth 40 marks.

Reading

OCR Religious Studies A level Year 1/AS
By Campbell, Wilkinson & Wilcockson
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN ISBN 978 147186 6692

OCR Religious Studies A level Year 2
By Campbell, Wilkinson & Wilcockson
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN ISBN 9978 147 186 6746

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: OCR H173, A level: OCR H573

 

The information above is correct at the time of going to press (May 2016). The specification is currently under review by Ofqual and has not yet been accredited. However, it is likely that the final accredited specification will differ, if at all, only in points of very minor detail.

Anastasia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”

Julia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AABB

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”

Andrew

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”

Cynthia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*A

Progressed to
University College London (Economics)

“My subject teachers and Personal Tutor have been very patient and helpful in supporting my studies and university application.”

Akmaral

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”