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Level: Advanced (Level 3)Awarding Body: OCR

Why study Religious Studies?

Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought is a challenging and interesting course which will enable you to:

  • Explore a range of philosophical and Ethical ideas
  • Challenge any preconceived notions
  • Develop Critical Thinking skills
  • Exploring new perspectives on familiar topics, such as how we use our language
  • Reflect upon their own lives by exploring ethical theories and moral dilemmas
  • Consider debates across philosophy, psychology and science
  • Open and broaden your mind and prepare you for the demands of higher education

What can it lead to?

Philosophy and Ethics is widely respected by major universities and prospective employers. It provides excellent training for a variety of careers such as law, teaching, counselling, business, journalism, politics, social work, police, research, broadcasting, medicine and the arts. The high intellectual demands of Ethics and Philosophy are recognised by universities as equipping students to further their evaluative and analytical skills.

How is the course organised?

Exam Board - OCR

A Level. This qualification is linear. This means that students will sit all their exams at the end of the two year course.

There are three assessed components; Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought.

Methods of Assessment

Essays are the principal method of assessment.

Three types of written work are undertaken during the year:

  • Study essays
  • Timed essays
  • Examination Essays

Students will be expected to submit study essays and will also be required to write timed essays in class. Assessment feedback will be given on how to improve which includes target setting and evaluation. Homework will be set each week for each of the topics taught and students will be encouraged to use material on Moodle in the form of extended reading to develop their knowledge and research skills.

Content overview

Component 1: Philosophy of religion

Students study philosophical language and thought, and issues and questions raised by belief:

  • Ancient philosophical influences
  • The nature of the soul, mind and body
  • Arguments about the existence or non-existence of God
  • The nature and impact of religious experience
  • The challenge for religious belief of the problem of evil
  • Ideas about the nature of God
  • Issues in religious language.

Component 2: Religion and ethics

Students explore key concepts and the works of influential thinkers, ethical theories and their application:

  • Normative ethical theories
  • The application of ethical theory to two contemporary issues of importance
  • Ethical language and thought
  • Debates surrounding the significant idea of conscience
  • Sexual ethics and the influence on ethical thought of developments in religious beliefs.

Component 3: Developments in Christian 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
  • Significant social and historical developments in theology and religious thought
  • Key themes related to the relationship between religion and society

How is the course assessed?

Assessment Overview

Component Marks Duration Weighting
Philosophy of Religion 120 2 hours 33.33%
Religion and Ethics 120 2 hours 33.33%
Developments in Christian Thought 120 2 hours 33.33%


What do I need to qualify for this course?

Entry requirements:

  • 6 GCSEs grades 9-4 (A-C) and English Language grade 4 (C) or above.
  • Although GCSE offers a useful background, it is not compulsory. Given that the two areas of study are Philosophy and Ethics, this ‘A’ level is not focused on the world religions, but on the philosophy of religion which is very different from GCSE and is not a continuation of GCSE. Subsequently, students do not have to have any particular religious commitment to study this course.

Who are the teachers?

RE is taught by qualified staff that have extensive knowledge of the subject. Teaching at this level requires a thorough familiarisation with the concepts, themes and developments in terms of both structure and content. All staff are qualified to at least graduate standard in the specialist subjects and all are fully familiar with the content involved.

The Head of RE is Ms R Watton.

What do students say about the course?

The Philosophy Paper gave me the opportunity to study some academic and scholarly texts preparing me to deal with difficult and dense texts at university. I have since reassessed my career choice and, after leaving St Charles, I will be studying International Relations, with a view to working for the United Nations or a conversion course to Law. 

As I progressed in the Philosophy and Ethics course, I did not view it like other courses where I learned things with a view to getting an exam qualification. The knowledge I gained from the course was so dense and engrossing, I would study and research it in my free time and it has influenced the way I view everyday phenomena. I now consider the knowledge I have gained more important than the qualifications it will yield. As an aspiring journalist the course will enable me to write and analyse articles with greater sophistication. 

I really enjoyed Philosophy and Ethics as it helped me to develop and form my own opinions, whilst also challenging them.  Also, there was a variety of teaching methods such as group work and drama, which kept the subject interesting.