The study of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics raises the big questions of life, about God, meaning and how we ought to live as human beings. You will have an opportunity to explore these issues in some depth with other interested students. In addition to the personal value of studying such a subject, you will also acquire valuable skills of critical thinking and philosophical analysis.
All students studying for A Level would be expected to have five GCSEs at grade C or above (grade 5 or above) in academic subjects, of which two, including GCSE English Language, must be B grades (grade 6).
You do not need to have studied GCSE Religious Studies, or to have any particular religious faith, but critical thinking skills and a keen interest in Philosophy are necessary given the nature of the subject.
In the Philosophy of Religion, you will be introduced to Ancient Greek influences on religious philosophy, such as the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, and will also consider traditional Judaeo-Christian ideas of God, such as God’s goodness and role as Creator. You will then consider the traditional arguments for the existence of God and the challenge posed to belief in God by the existence of evil and suffering in the world.
In Ethics, you will consider a range of approaches to a philosophical and religious understanding of issues regarding euthanasia, abortion and genetic engineering.
The A Level course is again split into two modules, one covering further Philosophy of Religion topics and one covering further Ethics topics. Philosophy topics include miracles, religious language, the nature of God and life after death; Ethics topics include a study of free-will, conscience and practical ethics topics such as the environment, business ethics and sexual ethics.
Each component is assessed by a written examination paper. This means that you will have two exams for your AS Level, and two exams for the A Level. There is no coursework for these qualifications.
An AS or A Level qualification in Religious Studies is most directly related to degrees in Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies. It is, however, relevant to many other fields of study, such as History, Psychology, Sociology, Literature and Politics.
Given the large component of ethics within the course, it is also highly useful for many people-centred careers, such as teaching, medicine, the police, and community and social work.
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