What will I study?
Essentially the subject focuses on epistemology, i.e., different theories of knowledge, or, how we know what we know. The heart of the course lies with the pursuit of knowledge, truth and values. You will deepen your understanding of the modern world and of the place of religion within it. You will study a huge range of influential thinkers from Plato and Aristotle to Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Richard Dawkins and Mary Daly to name but a few.
The course comprises a dynamic blend of three main subject areas:
1. Philosophy: you will learn about the classical schools of Plato and Aristotle, about traditional proofs for God's existence, responses to evil and suffering, ideas about life after death; body and soul. You will examine the nature of religious experiences and question the meaningfulness of religious language.
2. Ethics: you will study key ethical theories including Natural Law, Utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, Relativism and ethics based on religion. You will apply these theories to issues surrounding euthanasia, sexual relationships and business ethics. You will question the existence of conscience and ask yourself if human behaviour is determined by heredity, environment and/or psychology.
3. Theology: you will explore how religions have been challenged by secularism, psychology, pluralism, Marxism and feminism. You will study Christian responses to these challenges and consider the difference between knowledge, belief and revelation.
How will I be assessed?
This is a linear course which is examined at the end of the second year by means of three essay papers lasting 2 hours each.
What skills will I gain? Where can the course lead?
Students of Religious Studies A-level adopt not just an inquiring and critical but also a reflective approach. You will learn to read in-depth, to analyse scholarly opinion critically and to argue effectively. You will be expressing your own views in a clear, concise and persuasive manner. These skills are fundamental in all areas of life and to any career.
This course is a thorough preparation for students wishing to study Philosophy, Theology or world faiths at university as well as numerous combination courses with Anthropology, Psychology or Sociology. An A-level in Religious Studies is also particularly useful for further studies in the Arts, Humanities, International Relations or Law. The study of ethics complements work in the field of medicine, medical sciences or the caring professions, and it is valuable for those intending to enter journalism or the teaching profession.