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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 Philosophy, Ethics & Religious Studies is suitable for students with an open and enquiring mind, who are willing to develop extended reading and writing skills, and who enjoy engaging with the big and challenging questions of life, such as: Is there a God? What is a moral action? Students wishing to enrol on the subject must have at least a grade 4 in GCSE English.

What will I study?

Philosophy of Religion – You will begin with the basis of all philosophy: the Greek scholars Plato and Aristotle. From there you will explore the arguments and evidence for and against the existence of God, the problem of evil, whether humans have a soul, what God is like, and whether God can be found in religious experiences or spoken about at all.

Ethics – You will explore different theories about how to be moral (both religious and secular), along with their practical application to issues such as euthanasia, business, and sexual ethics. Ideas surrounding the existence of a conscience will be considered as well as evaluating whether ethics is just a matter of opinion.

Development in Christian Thought – This strand looks at how Christianity has developed over the centuries, from an exploration of the nature of Jesus, to arguments surrounding how Christian thought has developed and impacted society, both in the past and present. How should a Christian challenge dictatorships such as Hitler’s or those in South America in the 20th century? You will also consider the influence of feminism on society and religion, as well as the role of other faiths and secular thought in contemporary society.

These three strands will be examined in three separate, equally weighted exams at the end of the two-year course.

You will acquire a large number of highly valuable transferable skills that are useful for both university and the workplace. We will encourage you to develop an open mind: to think clearly, analyse evidence, and argue effectively in writing, as well as supporting you to gain a crucial insight into important aspects of modern society.

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.

Did you know?

According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.


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

Click here to go to this course on UCAS Progress.