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Philosophy, Ethics & Religious Studies

Subject Area: Humanities
Level: TWO-YEAR A Level
Exam Board: OCR
Syllabus No:

What do I need to study this course?

No previous study of the subject is necessary. A level Religious Studies is suitable for students with an open and enquiring mind, who enjoy engaging with challenging concepts and ideas, and who are willing to develop extended reading and writing skills. Students wishing to register for the subject must have a grade 4 in GCSE English.

What will I study?

You will acquire a large number of transferable skills that are useful for both university and the workplace. You will be encouraged to develop an open mind that can think clearly, not only using evidence to support arguments but also spotting poor ones, and developing your ability to analyse and argue in writing.

The A level consists of three specific strands; philosophy of religion, ethics, and the development of Christian thought. Over the two years you will study a wide range of different topics that address issues which affect modern society.

Philosophy of religion – in year one you will begin with the early Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. You will then look into the possible arguments for/against the existence of God, the ‘problem of suffering’ and evil, religious experience and miracles, as well as considering the challenge to religious belief from science and sociology. In year two you will study the nature of God, and issues in religious language.

Ethics – in year one a number of secular and religious theories of morality will be studied, exploring how these may be applied to issues in medicine and other areas of contemporary importance. In year two issues in sexual relationships will be explored, as well as questions such as what we mean by ‘having free will’ or a conscience.

Development in Christian thought – you will study key questions surrounding the nature of God. Who is Jesus? What is human nature like? What happens when we die? In your second year you will consider debates about interpreting the bible, as well as religious belief in a contemporary multi-faith/secular society. Issues such as gender and liberation theology will also be considered.

What next?

Religious studies is highly regarded as an entry qualification for higher education courses; it is a hinge subject which sits comfortably with sciences, arts and humanities, providing perspective and support to all forms of study. Its analytical approach nurtures skills that are prized by both universities and employers, including innovative thinking, clarity of thought, and communication skills. This A level also fosters the writing and research skills that are the bedrock for all degree courses and wider employment opportunities. It is considered a valuable area of study in a number of different fields that rely on an ethical or philosophical perspective.

Notre Dame students have gone on to study at a wide range of universities including Cambridge, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Leuven in Belgium, Sheffield, Leeds, UCL, and King’s College London. Students have pursued occupations as varied as medicine, teaching, politics, law, journalism, economics, finance, marketing and business.

Click here to view our A level Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Studies flyer.

Click here to go to this course on UCAS Progress.