Religious AS/A-Level

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates 399 BC)

“I’m breaking through
I’m bending spoons
I’m keeping flowers in full bloom
I’m looking for answers from the great beyond.”
REM - ‘Great Beyond’

How do we know things?

What happens when you die? Is murder wrong? How do we know things? In religious studies we learn to question things, criticize different points of view and generally become more open-minded to other people’s beliefs.

The Course

The religious studies course is split into two separate sections – philosophy of religion and ethics.

AS course – on the philosophy side of things we look at Plato and Aristotle, theories on the Body and Soul, arguments for and against the existence of God and lots more! In ethics we look at loads of different ethical theories (Natural Law, Utilitarianism and Situation Ethics to name a few) and then we put these into practice in different situations such as abortion, euthanasia and embryo experimentation.

A2 course – In the second year the philosophy module is in the form of coursework which looks at either religious language or religious experience. For this we get VIP access to the resource cupboard – very exciting! A2 ethics gets even better with lots of room for debate. Subjects include environmental ethics, the just war theory and sex and relationships.

Like a Rainbow…

The course is split into seven modules – one for each colour of the rainbow! All the information sheets and booklets are printed out onto coloured paper for each consecutive module (e.g. the work from the orange module is on orange paper) which makes it really easy to organise your notes and revise for exams. At the end of the two years you will end up with a whole rainbow in your folder!

Facilities

The only facilities really needed for philosophy and ethics are an open mind and willingness to contribute to discussions but we also have the use of the Religious Studies resources cupboard which is extremely useful when writing coursework. We also have a section of reference books in the school library which is great if the book you need is not in the cupboard.

“This is your last chance, after this there is no going back. You take the blue pill, the story ends you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.
You take the blue pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember I’m offering you the truth, nothing more.” (Morpheus – the Matrix)

As well as the Matrix we watch other philosophical videos such as Minority Report, Sliding Doors and The Life of David Gale which come up in the Free Will and Determinism section of the course.

Students

Students had a lot to say about Philosophy and Ethics:

“Philosophy is awesome; it’s interesting and makes you think about other people’s views.” – Gemma Bridgman

“Philosophy is great but there’s loads to take in! I really enjoy it though.” – Rachael Höke

“It makes you question your own views and things you think you know.” – Natasha Teskey

Cakes

Eating cakes in Philosophy has become somewhat a tradition which was started by the head of department, Miss Windross, who tried a new Nigella Lawson recipe out on us. We find nothing beats munching on chocolate cake while having a deep philosophical debate!

“Philosophy is great! We eat cakes!” – Kelly Neal

Examples of Work

Class-work consists of discussion, writing notes, spider diagrams, reading information, writing essays and understanding the stuff. Here are some examples of different pieces of work from both the AS and the A2 courses:

“Philosophy is a chance to learn to be more open and diplomatic to different and sometimes controversial views. It is a chance to express opinions on current situations and affairs”– Meghan Blackwood

Life After Philosophy

Students who studied religious studies A-level can go on to do all sorts of things. You might want to do a degree in philosophy, or combine philosophy with another subject at university. The possibilities are endless! Religious studies also teaches you skills that are highly regarded by employers, such as the ability to express ideas both verbally and through writing as well as being able to analyze and criticize points of view.

Sarah-Jane Bee explained why she wanted to study Philosophy combined with History at university:
“Philosophy teaches you really valuable skills like being able to form a concise argument and do independent research. Philosophy is so interesting and it is relevant to everyday life; it has definitely taught me to be more open minded when dealing with issues – I always think the matter over before forming my own opinion instead of rushing into a judgment. I want to do philosophy at university because I find it challenging and stimulating. It is also a good partner for any subject if you want a combined degree.”

By Rachel Lownsbrough

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