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

In Paper 1 (Philosophy of Religion) you will begin by looking at the philosophical concept of God, tracing its roots back to the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and famous arguments for the existence of God: the design; cosmological and ontological arguments. You will also consider religious experiences and the problem of evil. In Paper 2 (Religion and Ethics) you will study four ethical theories: Utilitarianism, Situation Ethics, Natural Moral Law and Kantian deontology. You will then consider how they inform thinking about euthanasia and ethics in business. In Paper 3 (Developments in Religious Thought: Christianity) you will explore explore Augustine's teachings on human nature, the afterlife, and faith and grace. You will also look at the person and moral teachings of Christ.

Upper sixth

You will continue with all three papers. In Paper 1 (Philosophy of Religion) you will look at God's attributes and whether they are coherent along with the questions of whether and how religious language is meaningful. In Paper 2 (Religion and Ethics) you will look at meta-ethics and the objectivity of moral discourse. You also examine religious and non-religious views on the concept of conscience and apply the ethical theories you have studies to topics in sexual ethics. In Paper 3 (Developments in Religious Thought: Christianity) you will look at religious pluralism, gender and theology, the challenge of secularism and liberation theology.

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 written exams. Each exam lasts 1 hour 15 minutes and is worth 33% of the AS level. In each paper, you answer two questions from a choice of three.

A level

All three A level papers are written exams. Each exam lasts 2 hours and is worth 33% of the A level. In each paper, you answer three questions from a choice of four.

Reading

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

OCR Religious Studies A Level Year 1 and AS
By H. Campbell, M. Wilkinson, M. Wilcockson
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-1471866692

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

OCR Religious Studies A Level Year 2
By M. Wilkinson, M. Wilcockson
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-1471866746

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: OCR H173; A level: OCR H573

Zainah James
Head of Department

Tiffany

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

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."

Oliver

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A

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."

Nathaniel

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

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."

Ella

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

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."

Chris

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A

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."