Religious education

Head of department

Mr J Clarke 

Teaching staff

Miss C Jackson

Religious education

“There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.” George Bernard Shaw

Aims of the Department

The Religious Education Department aims to enable pupils to develop their knowledge and understanding of the world’s major religions, reflect on some key philosophical questions and study issues relating to contemporary moral issues with a personal, social and global dimension.

Course outline for philosophy, culture, religion & ethics

Year 7

  • Introduction to Philosophy - Ultimate Questions
  • Is there a God?
  • Are we alone in the Universe?
  • Judaism - Passover - the Festival of Freedom

Year 8

  • Hinduism - the sanctity of life, Hindu concept of God (Brahman) - karma (actions have consequences) & reincarnation
  • Christianity - the Incarnation - the Adam & Eve myth - early life of Jesus

Year 9

  • Christianity - Holy Week - the Crucifixion & Resurrection of Jesus
  • Christian faith in action - the life & work of Martin Luther King - racism
  • Buddhism - the life & teachings of the Buddha - the 3 Universal Truths

Years 10 & 11

Examination Title : GCSE Religious Studies A (World Religion(s)) J620 - Full Course

Unit B569 – Buddhism 1
Unit B570 – Buddhism 2
Unit B584 – Christian Scriptures 2 (Luke)
Unit B603 – Ethics

Examination board : OCR
The GCSE is composed of four units – two on Buddhism as a world religion and two on Christianity, one focusing on a study of Luke’s Gospel and the other on Christian perspectives on a range of moral issues related to human relationships, poverty and wealth and medical ethics.

Buddhism 1

  • The life of the Buddha, the three universal truths, the four noble truths, karma, samsara and rebirth, the three poisons, enlightenment and nirvana, the three reguges, the five precepts
  • Festivals, eg: rain retreats and Wesak; pilgrimage, eg: Bodh Gaya and Sarnath
  • Major divisions and interpretations – Theravada Buddhism, Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, the Western Buddhist order

Buddhism 2

  • Places and forms of worship, including Buddhist images, art and temples; meditation
  • The application of Buddhist principles to issues relating to the family, wealth and employment, the role of the monastic community, lifestyle of monks and nuns, beliefs about death and life after death
  • Sacred writings – the Pali Canon, Vinaya Pitaka and Metta Sutras

Christian scriptures 2 (Luke)

  • Jesus as Messiah – birth story, Simeon’s declaration and Jesus in the Temple; Christian concept of the Trinity; Jesus’ teaching on prayer – the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son; the kingdom of God – the parables of the sower, great banquet, lamp of the body and the narrow door; Christian discipleship – the centurion’s faith, the cost of discipleship and Peter’s denial
  • Wealth – the parables of the rich fool, the rich young man; the widow’s offering; Women – Martha and Mary; Jesus’ anointment by a sinful woman; the resurrection

Outcasts – the man with leprosy; the parable of the Good Samaritan; Zacchaeus the tax collector; the crippled woman healed on the Sabbath; Suffering – the rich man and Lazarus

  • The Holy Spirit – the events of Pentecost as described in the Acts of the Apostles

Ethics

  • Religion and Human Relationships – the roles of men and women in the family; marriage and civil partnerships; divorce and remarriage; sexual relationships and contraception
  • Medical ethics – abortion; fertility treatment; cloning; euthanasia and suicide; the use of animals in medical research.
  • Religion, poverty and wealth – the causes of hunger, poverty and disease; charity; the use of money, eg: gambling and lending; moral and immoral occupations.

These ethical issues will be studied in relation to Christian perspectives.

Assessment
Each unit is assessed by a one hour examination which is worth 25% of the total marks.

Weblink
The full syllabus specification may be found on the OCR website at :
http://www.ocr.org.uk/Data/publications/key_documents/GCSE_RS_A_Spec.pdf

Religious education at key stage 4

In the Fourth and Fifth Year, the statutory religious education course deals with a wide variety of religious, ethical and philosophical issues. These include the following topic areas : -

  • Personal relationships - including love, sex, marriage and divorce
  • Peace and Justice – war, nuclear weapons, human rights, racism
  • Birth and death issues - abortion, contraception, euthanasia and suicide.
  • World community – global poverty and inequality of wealth
  • A special study into the issue of Capital Punishment

In studying these issues, students will look at a variety of religious and non-religious perspectives and where relevant, the historical, legal and medical background to the topics. Students will approach the issues in a variety of ways, including small group and whole class discussions, student presentations, drama and role play, film, outside speakers and formal debates. Students will be encouraged to develop their own thoughtful and reflective perspectives on these important contemporary ethical issues.

AS course

Entry requirements

There is no specific requirement for students to have taken a GCSE in the subject in order to study it at AS/A level but it should prove an advantage, especially if courses in Buddhism and Christian Perspectives have been taken.

This consists of two units : -

  1. Religion and ethics. In this module students will explore the ethical principles expressed within Christianity, Situation Ethics and the philosophy of Utilitarianism. In addition to this students will investigate religious teaching on the nature and value of human life – this will include reference to topics such as racism, sexism and animal rights. The issues of abortion and euthanasia are also studied, as well as one other ethical issue chosen by the student.
  2. Buddhism as a world religion. This will involve a study of the central concepts of Buddhism such as the three marks of existence, the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and the Sangha.

Each unit is worth 50% of the AS level (and 25% of an A level) and is assessed by an examination lasting 1 hour 15 minutes. Unit 1 is taken in January and Unit 2 in June.

A2 course

Students who continue the subject to A2 level will study a further two units : -

  1. Studies in religion. This will involve a more in depth study of Buddhism, including Mahayana Buddhism, aspects of Buddhist Philosophy, Meditation and Buddhist Ethics.
  2. Religion and human experience. In this module students investigate the topic of Life, Death and Beyond including beliefs about the value, purpose and destiny of the human race – are we made by God for a purpose or are we just gene machines which are the product of evolution? Heaven & Hell and Judgement Day, the nature of near death experiences and non-religious attitudes to this topic will also be explored.

Methods of assessment

AS level

Students take one examination on each of the two modules – each examination lasts for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Two essay questions out of a choice of four must be answered. Each unit is worth 50% of the AS level (and 25% of an A level). Unit 1 is taken in January and Unit 2 in June.

A2 level

Students take one examination on each of two modules – each examination lasts for one hour and 30 minutes. The examination on Buddhism two essay questions out of a choice of four must be answered. The examination on Religion & Human Experience involves answering one extended essay question out of a choice of two. Each unit is worth 25% of the A level and both units are examined in June.

Additional information

Religious studies is about exploring the philosophy, religion, ethics and culture. As such it involves thinking deeply, analysing and evaluating thought systems, religions, values and concepts and developing your own worldview. Key skills developed are clear and coherent communication, the ability to understand and represent other people’s points of view, the ability to present persuasive arguments and being able to read, analyse and synthesise information, ideas and different types of literature.

Students who opt for the course will be given an opportunity to visit various Buddhist communities, and go on two residential visits to Manchester (March 2010) and New York (March 2011).

The subject can be combined with any other AS/A2 level and is a useful qualification for a wide variety of university degree subjects, including economics, English, geography, history, law, philosophy, politics, psychology, sociology and theology.

The skills involved in Religious Studies are relevant in any career which requires clear thinking, careful analysis, balanced evaluation, effective communication and good presentation of ideas, eg: law, journalism, radio and television, police, social services, politics and public administration, teaching, the health service, working with children, tourism and advertising.

What students have said about RE

“I enjoy RE because it gives me the opportunity to think about some of the really big issues in life. It certainly stretches your mind.”

“RE gives you the chance to study some great thinkers and to discuss their ideas.”

“RE helps you to think and critically evaluate your own beliefs and those of others. It makes you think for yourself and not just accept what other people tell you.”

“It’s interesting, challenging and different from my other subjects.”

“RE has helped me to become a more confident and broad minded person.”