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, drama and poetry, watch extracts from a wide range of film and television programmes and work independently and collaboratively to complete a wide range of tasks. We encourage students to develop their learning outside the classroom through independent homework tasks at KS3, 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: Students explore social science approaches to studying religion.This builds on the knowledge of religions and belief systems in the UK before moving onto the GCSE specification and how religious beliefs and worldviews influence people’s thinking on a range of ethical and philosophical issues including Issues of Relationships; Issues of Crime and War and Issues of Life and Death. Students will cover topics such as: Capital Punishment; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Animal Testing and Euthanasia.
In year 10: Students complete a GCSE in Religious Studies. We 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 it’s beliefs and practices and how events such as the Holocaust has changed both Jewish and non-Jewish views on the religion. The course is examined at the end of Year 10, 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 it’s 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.
“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.”
Meet the staff
- Miss Clare Gent - Head of Religious Studies
- Mr Ian Hartley – Humanities Teacher
- Mr Torsten Payne - Religious Studies Teacher
- Dr Ian Jamison – Religious Studies Teacher
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 explore ‘Jewish London’ and 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. We have also had visiting speakers from Animal Aid, Christian Aid and the Plymouth Centre for Faith and Cultural Diversity to talk to our students about a variety of issues.
Personal and Social Development
The Personal and Social Development (PSD) qualifications offer imaginative ways of supporting young people in:
becoming confident individuals who are physically, emotionally and socially healthy
being responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society and embrace change
managing risk together with their own wellbeing
as well as introducing them to new activities and personal challenges.
Who is it for?
PSD at Entry 1, 2 and 3 is used by students aged 14+ and adults in the Foundation Learning stage of their development. PSD Levels 1 & 2 is used by mainstream establishments for students aged 14-19, and also for adults. These qualifications also play a major role in rewarding achievement within the non-formal sector.
Facts and figures
Nationally recognised certification
Accreditation for existing PSHE and PSD activities
Opportunities to include activities both inside and outside of school and in non-formal situations
100% coursework and postal moderation
In Wales and Northern Ireland, ASDAN qualifications can contribute towards school/college performance measures. Download this information sheet for details.
Following amendments to the school and college performance tables in England, qualifications that do not rely on a written examination for assessment purposes, such as ASDAN qualifications, do not, themselves, contribute to the tables. There is however strong evidence that ASDAN qualifications improve performance in English and Mathematics, which have a double weighting in school performance measures such as Progress 8.