A Level Religious Studies


What is it about at sixth form level?

Is there a God? How should we live? These two fundamental questions underlie everything you will be looking at in the Religious Studies A level. You will be approaching them in a distinctively philosophical way. You will

be exploring many arguments for God’s existence and problems that argue for atheism. You will be comparing different theories of ethics from across the ages and 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 the issues in a sophisticated and critical way.

Many of the arguments and views have emerged within the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and studying the New Testament will enrich and give context to these debates. However, the fundamental questions we started with transcend any one faith and this is not a course that tries to get you to make up your mind. 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

The AS qualification consists of three papers. In Paper 1 (Philosophy of Religion) you will begin by looking at three famous arguments for the existence of God: the design, cosmological and ontological arguments. You will consider religious experiences and the problem of evil. In Paper 2 (Religion and Ethics) you will study three ethical theories: Utilitarianism, Situation Ethics
and Natural Moral Law. You will then apply them to debates regarding war and peace, and sexual ethics, the environment and equality. In Paper 3 (Christianity) you will explore Christian beliefs, values and teachings, and the practices that shape religious identity. You will also examine the significance of the bible as a source of authority, and the role of Jesus in the life of Christians.

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 will examine issues concerning religious language, life after death, and the significance of scientific debate. In Paper 2 (Religion and Ethics) you will compare Kant’s deontological ethics with Aristotle’s virtue ethics. You will then explore medical ethical issues with a focus on debates concerning the beginning and end of life. In Paper 3 (Christianity) you will examine social and historical developments in Christianity: the challenge of modern science, secularisation and new movements such as global evangelicalism. You will also study the works of scholars on atonement, and the relationship
between religion and society, including issues of multiculturalism and gender equality.

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 will engage you and develop your critical and analytical skills. You will learn to think in abstract ways and to challenge your own beliefs. You will 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?

AS level

All three AS papers are assessed by 1 hour written exams, each worth a third of the overall qualification. Each paper consists of two sections: four short structured questions followed by an essay question from a choice of two.

A level

All three A level papers are assessed by 2 hour written exams, each worth a third of the overall qualification. Each paper consists of three sections: three short, structured questions; two extended- response questions based on excerpts from an anthology; and an extended essay question from a choice of two.


An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
By B. Davies
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0199263479

Being Good
By S. Blackburn
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0192853776

Christianity: An Introduction 3rd Revised Edition
By A. McGrath
Published by Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-1118465653

An anthology of extracts for all three papers is provided by the exam board.

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: 8RS0, A level: 9RS0

Fozia Niazi
Head of Department


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Royal Veterinary College (Veterinary Medicine)

"I have loved MPW. The class sizes are very small and it is easy to ask questions. The teaching is really interactive and they all care so much about the students. My Director of Studies helped a lot with my UCAS statement, suggesting what to include and perfecting it with me. I honestly don’t think I would have go any university offers without her help."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Law)

"I’ve had three fantastic years at MPW: I’ve had a happy time; I’ve met some amazing people; and, most importantly, I’ve left school knowing that I have fulfilled my potential, leaving with GCSE and A Level grades that I can be proud of. I feel that the teachers and Directors of Studies all care deeply about their students' futures and performance."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (History and Politics)

"All of my teachers have been great; they are experienced, friendly and treat us all like adults rather than teenagers. I’ve also enjoyed being in a city. There is so much to do and we’ve been on a lot of theatre trips after school which is something I hadn’t been able to do before. My favourite thing about MPW has been the people I have met."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King's College London (Biology)

"I would like to say a big thank you to my teachers. Everyone at MPW has been so warm towards me and my teachers are so friendly and willing. They also adapt to learning styles and have been sensitive about responding to my needs; they provide extra help when I need it but also give me space to absorb new topics or information when I need that."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bath (Mechanical Engineering)

"One of my favourite things about MPW is the people I have met, who are all really nice and really fun to be with. My Director of Studies was really enthusiastic which rubbed off on me. She also helped enormously with UCAS, taking the time to clearly explain what I needed to do and supporting me."