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 components that focus on the religions of Christianity and Islam. In Component 1 (The Study of Religious Beliefs, Teaching and Practices), you will look at how Christianity is one of the many religious traditions and beliefs in Great Britain today. You will study Christianity and Islam and their basis in Christian sources of wisdom and authority via scripture and sacred texts. For Christianity, you will look at four areas: (i) Key Beliefs; (ii) Jesus Christ and Salvation; (iii) Worship and Festivals; and (iv) the Role of the Church in the Local and Wider Community. For Islam, you will also cover four areas: (i) Key Beliefs; (ii) Authority; (iii) Worship and Duties; and (iv) Festivals.

In Component 2 (Thematic Studies), you will be expected to show your understanding of religion through the application and teachings of religious beliefs. You will be expected to be able to make specific reference to sources of wisdom and authority including scripture and sacred texts. You will also study religious, philosophical and ethical arguments related to issues raised and their impact and influence on the modern world. You must be able to explain contrasting beliefs on the following issues with reference to the main religious tradition in Britain (Christianity) and nonreligious beliefs such as atheism and humanism. You will study a total of four themes from the perspective of Christianity and Islam: Theme A (Relationship and Families) which looks at sex, marriage and divorce as well as families and gender equality; Theme B (Religion and Life) which looks at the origins and value of the universe and the origins and value of human life; Theme E (Religion, Crime and Punishment) which look at the causes of crime, theories of punishment, forgiveness and the death penalty; and Theme F (Religion, Human Rights and Social Justice) which focuses on prejudice, discrimination, wealth and poverty.

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 for each component. Each paper lasts 1 hour 45 minutes and is worth 50% of the GCSE. There is no coursework.


AQA Religious Studies A – Islam
By M. Flemming, P. Smith, D.Worden
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0-19-837034-5

AQA Religious Studies A – Christianity
By M. Flemming, P. Smith, D.Worden
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0-19-837033-8

Exam Board and Specification Code

AQA A 8062

Mat Carmody
Head of Department