Study option                                   Exam board                         Specification code

A Level two-year course                   OCR                                                       H573

Why choose religious studies?

This subject not only offers the opportunity to explore fascinating topics, it also develops a range of skills that will stand you in excellent stead, whatever your next step may be. It will develop your skills in the handling of materials, showing evidence of appropriate reading and careful documentation of a wide range of sources, using those sources imaginatively and organising and presenting information, ideas and descriptions clearly and logically.  The course will also develop your understanding and ability to interpret, analyse, compare and evaluate material and to make comparisons and connections.  Finally, it demands the ability to sustain arguments at a critical level. Avoiding polemic and bias in reaching an informed decision, students must be able to present and defend their opinion with evidence and reasoned argument. All of these skills are widely looked for by university admissions tutors and by employers.

Where can it lead?

Religious studies sits very well with other A Levels and can enhance your university applications in humanities, arts, sciences and social sciences and in subjects as diverse as medicine, law, PPE as well as theology, philosophy and other related subjects.

What will I study?

The course is broken down into three sections:

  • Philosophy of religion
  • Religion and ethics
  • Developments in religious thought

The first year of A Level:

Philosophy of religion

  • Ancient philosophical influences (Plato and Aristotle)
  • The nature of the soul, mind and body
  • Arguments about the existence or the non-existence of God
  • The nature and impact of religious experience
  • The challenge for religious belief of the problem of evil

Religion and ethics

  • Normative ethical theories (natural law, situation ethics, Kantian ethics, utilitarianism)
  • Applied ethics (euthanasia, business ethics)

Developments in religious thought

  • Religious beliefs, values and teachings, their interconnections and how they vary historically and in the contemporary world
  • Sources of religious wisdom and authority
  • Practices which shape and express religious identity and how these vary within a tradition

The second year of A Level:

Philosophy of religion:

  • Ideas about the nature of God
  • Issues in religious language

Religion and ethics:

  • Ethical language and thought
  • Debates surrounding the significant idea of conscience
  • Sexual ethics and the influence on ethical thought of developments in religious beliefsDevelopments in religious thought:
  • Significant social and historical developments in theology and religious thought
  • Key themes related to the relationship between religion and society

How will I be assessed?

There are three examinations at the end of the course, one for each of the three sections (all weighted equally), that combine to give you an A Level in this subject.

A Level exams are 2 hours in length.

Are there any specific entry requirements?

There is no requirement to have taken religious studies for GCSE although you do have to be capable of coping with the demands of an academic subject at this level. Religious belief is not a requirement either (and you will not be pressurised to become religious). You do need to be open-minded and prepared to have your preconceptions challenged!

Skills you will have learned during your GCSE courses will be used at A Level and there is a much greater emphasis on class discussion and debate.