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Level: Advanced (Level 3)Awarding Body: OCR

Why study Religious Studies?

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

  • Evaluate the arguments for and against the existence of God;
  • Explore a range of philosophical 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 (2017-2019). 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. Students must take assessments in both Component 1, Component 2 and Component 3 in the same exam series.

Methods of Assessment

Essays are the principal method of assessment and regular essays are set throughout the course.

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.

Homework will be set each week for each of the units taught and feedback will be given on how to improve the work through target setting together with more detailed comments on essays.

Students will be encouraged to use material on Moodle in the form of extended reading to develop their knowledge and research skills.

How is the course assessed?

Component 01: Philosophy of religion

  • 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 02: Religion and ethics

  • 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 03: Developments in religious thought

  • Christianity

What do I need to qualify for this course?

Entry requirements:

  • 6 GCSEs grades 9-4 and English Language grade 4 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?


"RS A level has truly been a both fascinating and intellectually rewarding subject. Personally for me RS A level, with the help of my incredibly inspiring teachers, has helped me to gain a new perspective in life whereby now I think more critically when it comes to a wide range of philosophical issues. Additionally the masterclass opportunities offered by the RS department is again like no other, which included an Oxford University masterclass in Y12 that truly opened my horizons. If you are currently a Y11 who wants to develop their argumentative and critical skills I would as a Year 13 student recommend 100% you pick A level RS, the skills you will learn is like no other and it's honestly a truly amazing subject with many masterclass opportunities to Universities like Oxford and Cambridge."


"My interest for R.E. comes from my personal beliefs and these contrast with the world. Ideas such as Morality, Theology, Philosophy of Mind and Atheism, just to name a few encompass many of the questions which I had, have and will have about the natural world and humanity’s role in it. R.E. and consequently Philosophy and Ethics are interesting subjects due to how they highlight what is at stake when it comes to our knowledge and applicability of said knowledge. It informs fields like Science, Politics, Sociology, and Psychology so in essence, Philosophy and Ethics are the basis of Human interaction. My enjoyment of R.E. also stands from my engagement with Theology, which despite not being a field which I subscribe to, the syllabus provides with interesting challenges which did put many of my beliefs to test and some have changed in consequence. As far as teachers go, the Department of R.E. has no shortage of great Teachers, namely Ms. Watton and Ms. Leech. Ms. Watton structures the lesson in a manner to make more engaging and to allow for deep and interesting discussions despite adversities such as remote learning. Both teachers provide great support in learning and essay writing skills as well as to how to formulate arguments around scholars and Theology which are instrumental tools for University. As for University itself, R.E. is essential due to my interest and pursuit in a Philosophy and Politics degree and possibly a Philosophy and Theology Postgraduation degree."



"Partaking in the Religious Studies A-level course at St Charles has inspired my curiosity for religion, society and culture; provoked me to question the accuracy of my own knowledge and understanding of the physical world; and enhanced my ability to thoroughly analyse and evaluate religious and moral theories.
Prior to the course, I lacked confidence in my ability to write an essay, my insecurities almost drove me away from pursuing my passion. I am so grateful that I took the risk and committed. I have managed to overcome challenges I have encountered though out the course in which I owe thanks to my teachers. My teachers have been incredibly supportive; providing useful resources and offering constructive feedback in a way that is encouraging and kind. The classrooms have a non-judgemental atmosphere, making them the perfect environment to flex curiosity. The Religious studies course covers a wide range of topics, including both religious and non-religious ethical theories and scholars. We explore more than just the “what’s” but the “whys”; lessons are interactive and engaging. I have grown so much from taking this course and am considering pursuing Philosophy and Religion at university."


"As the end of year 12 approaches I can only express great gratitude towards the RE A level course so far. Philosophy and Ethics have given me the tools to establish a well-rounded argument, provided a wider understanding of concepts and ideas that shape society- ones of which I would have never realised had such an impact on the world today before taking the course. Overall it has developed me as a person, and certainly broadened my horizons. During year 12 I attended a Philosophy masterclass at Cambridge University which, prior to the course, would have been unimaginable to me. RE and what it has taught me so far, has been captivating. The teaching methods keeps the subject interesting and every lesson is a new accomplishment. The influence it's had on me is inconceivable, from researching philosophical theories in my free time to linking everyday conversations to ethical scholars. I am enthusiastic of the future this course has to offer and my success as I progress into Y2."

"I have just completed my first year of A levels and really enjoyed Philosophy and Ethics as it helped me to develop and form my own opinions whilst also challenging them. This subject has also helped with my other courses especially Government and Politics, where my analytical skills have improved immensely. I would recommend A Level RE! I have since reassessed my career choice and after leaving St Charles I want to study International Relations at University. "

What else should I know about?

In order to prepare for A Level Religious Studies in September, you can keep up to date with the following resources:

 ‘Crash course Philosophy’ on YouTube – engaging and informative videos on all Philosophy & Ethics topics.

TED Philosophy talks online – A range of presentations on contemporary issues, creating an up-to-date and thoroughly relevant discourse.

Philosophy for beginners Apple podcasts- a series of five introductory lectures, aimed at students new to philosophy.