Religious Studies seeks not just to learn about world religions and their associated beliefs; but rather, it addresses the fundamental questions of truth and life in light of the formation of the human person. Religious Studies has an important role to play in broadening the mind and heart of each individual through an exploration of shared human experiences. The course at TGS seeks to facilitate the ability of each student to learn from diversity and make informed judgements about religious and moral issues, informed by the worldviews of faiths studied and those of their peers. The classroom nurtures an ethos of respect and moral and academic integrity. The course is outlined below:
Religious Studies at Thetford Grammar School develops as a facilitator of pupil’s personal development. The teaching and learning of Religious Studies at each of Key Stages takes into account the awareness and abilities of pupils; and the religious beliefs and practices that pupils encounter should be facilitated in such a way as to contribute towards the personal development of the child – namely as they engage with their own context in the world today.
This approach to learning tends to take an approach of shared concerns and experiences as opposed to shared topics and therefore rather than learning purely ‘about’ the different beliefs and practices of many religions; pupils will explore questions such as those concerning matters of life and death from their own point of view, as well as though contrast of differing religious perspectives.
The schemes of learning for Key Stage 3 are designed with a view to the Norfolk Agreed Syllabus for Religious Studies.
Introduces ‘ultimate questions’: what is ‘real’; how do we ‘know’ what is real; how do ‘we’ know what is real?
Pupils are introduced to the worldviews of theism, secularism and postmodernism and consider these, thinking about the impact of these views on our lives and on our ideas of tolerance.
Pupils consider sources of wisdom and authority from the perspectives of Christianity, Judaism and a secular ethic (Utilitarianism). Pupils use these religious and non-religious perspectives to approach the ‘big question’ of whether taking a life is ‘always wrong’.
Pupils study Judaism and Sikhism and explore the ways in which beliefs and teachings impact upon the identity of a Jew or a Sikh.
Pupils explore Christian approaches to making ethical decisions, including an introduction to Situation Ethics, and a secular approach (Kantian ethics). Pupils learn the way these worldview might approach a moral dilemma – including issues of whether human life should be protected at all costs, animal rights and war and assess which approach is more helpful in each case.
Pupils learn about the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu approaches to prejudice and poverty. Pupils reflect on what they can do in response to the poverty and prejudices experienced in the world today.
Pupils consider religious and non-religious approaches to life after death, including humanist, Buddhist, Christian and Islamic beliefs. Pupils will also consider the coherency of these different beliefs and the ways in which such beliefs might impact on the way someone chooses to live their life.
Pupils consider different types of argument (deductive and inductive) and statements (a priori and a posteriori). This allows them to consider what they count as ‘evidence of reality’ and what they count as ‘logical’. In turn, this will help them to begin to evaluate some of the philosophical arguments for the existence of God (design and causation) and the challenge posed by evil and suffering.
Pupils spend a term focussed on the beliefs, teachings and practices of Buddhism. Enquiry questions that run throughout this unit of study include ‘what is belief and what does it mean to be religious’; ‘does suffering have a purpose’ and ‘does suffering prove that God does not exist?’
Pupils explore the extent to which human life can be seen as sacred, as well as the extent to which science makes people ‘play god’. The question of quality versus sanctity of life opens discussion to current world issues of abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment, paving the way for GCSE study if so opted!
Course Outline and Assessment Information
The GCSE in Religious Studies provides candidates with the opportunity to explore philosophical and ethical issues in the modern world and will also incorporate the study of two major world religions: Islam and Christianity.
Assessment is 100% examination. Component one is assessed by two one-hour examinations, each carrying a 25% weighting of the overall score (one for beliefs, teachings and practices in Islam, and one for Christianity). Component two is assessed by a two-hour examination, carrying a 50% weighting of the overall score.
Component one: Study of religion:
- Beliefs and teachings in Islam and in Christianity
- Practices in Islam and Christianity
Component two: Philosophical and Ethical studies in the modern world:
- Learners will study different philosophical and ethical arguments and their impact and influence in the modern world from the perspective of one of the religions they studied in Component Group 1.
This is divided into four themes of study:
1. Relationships and families:
- Religious teachings about the nature and purpose of families in the 21st Century
- Sex, marriage, cohabitation and divorce
- Issues related to the nature and purpose of families
- Roles of men and women
- Equality; gender prejudice and discrimination
2. The existence of God, gods and ultimate reality, and ways in which God, gods or ultimate reality might be understood:
- Through revelation, visions, miracles or enlightenment
3. Religion, peace and conflict:
- Violence, war, pacifism, terrorism, just war theory, holy war
- The role of religion and belief in 21st Century conflict and peace making
- The concepts of justice, forgiveness and reconciliation
4. Dialogue within and between religions and non-religious beliefs:
- How those with religious and non-religious beliefs respond to critiques of their beliefs including the study of a range of attitudes towards those with different religious views – inclusivist, exclusivist and pluralist approaches.
This is a new syllabus. The OCR A Level provides an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of world religions, and explore philosophy of religion, and religion and ethics. Students are encouraged to engage in relevant topical issues including those of euthanasia, Business and sexual ethics. The Russell Group of top universities has made it clear that Religious Studies A Level provides ‘suitable preparation for university generally’.
Students study for three separate but related papers: Philosophy of Religion, Ethics, and Developments in Christian Thought.
Topics included in A Level study are:
- Ancient influences on Philosophical thought (Plato and Aristotle)
- The nature of the soul, mind and body
- Arguments about the existence or non-existence of God
- The nature and impact of religious experience
- Challenges to religious belief from the problem of evil
- Ideas about the nature of God
- Normative ethical theories
- Application of ethical theory to Business ethics, Euthanasia and Sexual ethics
- Debates surrounding the significant area of conscience