Religious Studies

The Religious Studies department works hard to engage students in some of life’s biggest questions such as ‘do we have a duty to look after the planet for future generations?’ ‘What happens after death?’ and ‘Should capital punishment be reintroduced to the UK?’

There will be opportunities for Students to produce pieces of art, complete creative writing tasks, watch extracts from a wide range of film and television programmes and work independently and collaboratively to complete a wide range of tasks designed to encourage critical thinking. We encourage students to develop their learning outside the classroom, such as being part of Plymouth-wide school events, commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day, taking part in the national Spirited Arts competition and visiting Auschwitz.

In years 7 – 8: students explore beliefs from the six main world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism) concerning a wide variety of ethical and philosophical issues, including human rights and life after death before comparing them with their own. Students are introduced to the skills that they will need in order to become successful learners in Religious Studies. These two years are spent encouraging students to reflect on their own beliefs and opinions whilst challenging ideas that are being presented to them.

In year 9: This year group would be given units of work that explore how religious beliefs and worldviews influence people’s thinking on a range of ethical and philosophical issues includingIssues of Life and Death; Issues of Morality; and Issues of Relationships. Students will cover topics such as: Medical Ethics; Crime; Punishment; War; Animal Testing and Drug use.

GCSE:  We currently follow Eduqas Specification A, which requires students to complete three units. The first unit, ‘Philosophy and Ethics’ involves students examining a wide variety of issues including abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia from both religious and non-religious perspectives before coming to their own conclusion. The second unit ‘Christianity in Britain’ looks at the Christian religion and how it is practised in Britain including rites of passage, festivals and the various denominational responses to a variety of issues. The third unit ‘Judaism’ requires students to investigate one of the oldest religions in the world, focusing on its beliefs and practices and how events such as the Holocaust have changed both Jewish and non-Jewish views on the religion. The course is examined at the end of Year 11, over three examinations. The Philosophy and Ethics lasts for two hours, and both the Christianity and Judaism papers last an hour each.

At A’ level:  Students study three units, the first of which is an investigation into the Buddhist religion focusing on how it has adapted to suit Western lifestyles and how elements of the religion such as mindfulness and meditation have become popular in the UK. The second unit focuses on Philosophy including the debates between Religion and Science, and a study of the work of Richard Dawkins, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung in relation to religion. The final unit looks at a variety of ethical issues including abortion, crime and punishment, euthanasia, immigration and nuclear weapons. Each unit is assessed via its own examination and students have progressed to a variety of university courses and apprenticeships including studying Law at King's College, London; Photojournalism, English, Philosophy, Education and Accountancy.

Student Statements

“I really enjoyed the GCSE course and am very pleased with my GCSE result. I am now studying the AS Philosophy & Ethics course and am enjoying the wide variety of topics such as euthanasia, fundamentalism and cults and ethical theories.”

“I like the discussion and debates in my RS lessons. We have looked at war, abortion, euthanasia and will soon be looking at the death penalty. You feel that your teachers listen to you and your opinions count. The revision materials really prepare you for the exam and I am working above my target level.”

“I like the fact that you don’t really know what to expect in your lessons. We learn in such a wide variety of ways including watching film clips, using the internet, discussing ideas, using artefacts and completing art-based tasks. My teacher works really hard to make the lessons interesting and enjoyable.”

Career Options

Religious Studies at GCSE and A’ level is seen as excellent preparation for many career choices (not just being a vicar!) including education, journalism, law, health care, the emergency services and armed forces. Some Students studying Philosophy & Ethics A’ level also study Maths, English, the Sciences, Psychology, Sociology, Art, Theatre Studies, Geography, History, Health & Social Care, Spanish and others. Previous A’ level students are now studying Maths, Art, Theatre Studies, Geography, Land Management, History and Religious Studies at university.


Learning Outside of the Classroom

We encourage students to continue their learning outside of the classroom. As part of the Collapsed Learning Days, we have taken students to a variety of places of worship in Plymouth including one of the oldest Synagogues in Western Europe and the Greek Orthodox Church. We have also taken students to the Imperial War Museum where they explored the Holocaust exhibition. Students following our A Level course also have the opportunity to apply for the Lessons from Auschwitz programme which involves a day visit to Poland and working with survivors and their descendants to plan workshops for students in schools about the Holocaust. In addition we have welcomed visiting speakers including a survivor from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and  speakers representing a range of religious beliefs from the Plymouth Centre for Faith and Cultural Diversity to talk to our students about a variety of issues.