Religious Studies

A level Religious Studies is a course that centres around two main areas; Philosophy and Ethics. Many people choose to study this subject as it is an excellent way of organising your thinking and training your brain to address complex debate in a systematic way.

 

Students are encouraged to use an enquiring, critical and empathetic approach to the study of the Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics. During the course, sixth formers will develop the skills of recall, selection and deployment of specified knowledge. They will be able to identify, investigate and analyse questions arising from the study of Philosophy and Ethics. Students will also be able to interpret language and terminology in context; interpret and evaluate religious concepts, issues, ideas, the relevance of arguments and the views of scholars.

The topics of study include various ethical issues and students can use insights from various religious traditions and from the long tradition of philosophical reflection on ultimate questions. Consideration of ethical issues and knowledge of the various ethical approaches is of vital importance in today’s world. Every day the media alerts us to the latest ethical debates and dilemmas. Rather than list all the careers that will demand an insight into ethical principles as this century progresses, the challenge is rather to think of a career in the modern world that does not require ethical thinking! Ethical understanding is an essential career skill before any mention of the challenges of personal ethical choices.

The course is designed to be: accessible, varied, flexible, interesting and challenging.

Curriculum

In the Sixth Form, the department is follows the OCR specification:

Unit G571: Philosophy of Religion

An introduction to major influences on philosophy of religion:

Ancient Greek influences on religious philosophy: basic knowledge of the thinking of Plato and Aristotle:

  • Plato: analogy of the cave (The Republic); the concept of Forms (especially good)

  • Aristotle: the ideas about cause and purpose in relation to God (Metaphysics: Book 12), the Prime Mover

Judaeo-Christian influences on religious philosophy:

  • A basic understanding of the following aspects of the Judaeo-Christian concepts of God as Creator and the Goodness of God.

Traditional arguments for the existence of God:

  • Ontological Argument: Anselm and Descartes; challenges from Gaunilo and Kant;

  • Cosmological Argument: Aquinas and Copleston; challenges from Hume and Russell;

  • Teleological Argument: Aquinas and Paley; challenges from Hume, Mill and Darwinism;

  • Moral Argument; Kant; challenges from Freud;

Challenges to religious belief:

  • The problem of evil; the classic theodicies of Augustine and Irenaeus;

  • The challenges of religion and science, in terms of the ways in which these disciplines approach an understanding of religion, particularly with reference to the threat to Christianity posed by Darwinsim, ‘intelligent design’ and ‘irreducible complexity.’

Unit G572: ‘Religious Ethics’

Ethical Theories:

  • An introduction to the following concepts within ethical theory (Moral Relativism/Absolutism)

  • Natural Moral Law (Aquinas and the influence of Aristotle)

  • Kant and the Categorical Imperative v’s Hypothetical Imperative

  • Utilitarianism; Bentham, Mill and Singer

  • Christian Ethics (including Divine Command

  • Relation between these ethical systems and religious methods of ethical decision making, in terms of a comparison between the religious ethics studied and the views of Kant, Bentham and Mill.

Practical Ethics:

  • Medical Ethics: abortion, euthanasia, the right to life, the right to a child, genetic engineering and embryo research/ War and Peace and how the ethical theories above would relate to the issues presented by these ethical dilemmas.

Full specification can be found here.

Staff

Religious Studies is taught by: