GCSE Religious Studies

The Course

GCSE Religious Studies aims to introduce students to the critical and analytical study of religion. The specification followed is based on the doctrines and literature of the Christian and Islamic traditions, but no religious affiliation or belief is necessary to benefit from this academically-rigorous course. 

The course contains two units. Unit 2 (Religion and Life from the Perspective of Christianity) covers four issues. In Belief in God, we look at characteristics of the classical God of theism, features of a religious upbringing, religious experiences, prayer, atheism, alternative explanations for existence, the problem of evil and suffering, and the design and causation arguments for the existence of God. Matters of Life and Death looks at life after death and ethical issues surrounding the sanctity of life, abortion and euthanasia. In Marriage and the Family, we look at marriage and family life, divorce, contraception and homosexuality. 

Finally in Community Cohesion, we look at equality, living in a multi-cultural society, ethnicity and how to promote a racially and religiously-tolerant society. Through all these topics we also look at the influence the media plays in influencing and informing belief. 

Unit 8 (Religion and Society from the Perspective of Christianity and Islam) also covers four areas. In Rights and Responsibilities, we look at how scripture can inform ethical decisions, along with the role of conscience and the importance of human rights, as well as looking at genetic engineering and the ethics of it. Environmental and Medical Issues looks at our relationship to the natural world and its resources, and attitudes towards infertility treatment and transplant surgery. In Peace and Conflict, we look at attitudes towards war, the concept of a ‘just war’, fighting in families, bullying and the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. Finally, in Crime and Punishment, we look at the need for law and justice, views on capital punishment, and laws and attitudes concerning drugs and alcohol.

What skills do I need?

No previous knowledge of the subject is necessary, but students must be prepared to discuss issues intelligently and to have a genuine interest in religious matters. A good standard of literacy is important.

How is the course assessed?

There are two papers, one each unit. Each paper lasts 1 hour 30 minutes and is worth 50% of the marks. You will answer questions on all four areas of each module. There is no coursework.


Edexcel Religion and Life
By S. Tyler, G. Reid
Published by Edexcel, ISBN 978-1846904196 

Edexcel Religion and Society
By S. Tyler, G. Reid
Published by Edexcel, ISBN 978-1846904233

Exam Board and Specification Code

Pearson-Edexcel 2RS01

Oliver Milton
Head of Department