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Religious Studies - AS / A level at Ipswich School

Course description

Socrates asserted that every individual has to grapple with the fundamental question:

'How should one live?'

and that in answering this question, a value system and philosophy of life are developed which give purpose, meaning and structure to being.

The Religious Studies AS/A level course reflects upon the answers great philosophers and ethicists have offered to Socrates` question. Students are encouraged to evaluate them, assess their strengths and weaknesses and, in doing so, begin to formulate their own theories and justify them.

Course content

AS Units

G571: Philosophy of Religion

Ancient Greek influences on religious Philosophy

Judaeo-Christian influences on religious Philosophy

Traditional arguments for the existence of God

Challenges to religious belief from psychology & sociology

G572: Religious Ethics

Ethical Theories - Natural Law, Kantian Ethics,
Utilitarianism, Religious Ethics

Applied Ethics - Abortion, Euthanasia, Genetic
Engineering, War & Peace

A2 Units

G581: Philosophy of Religion

Religious Language

Religious Experience

Attributes of God

Life & Death; The Soul

G582: Religious Ethics


Freewill & Determinism

The nature & role of the Conscience

Virtue Ethics

Applied Ethics - Environmental & Business Ethics, Sexual Ethics

The Lessons A variety of teaching methods are utilised in order to cater for different learning styles. Students will be encouraged to engage in structured independent learning in order to participate in group-led seminars; subject specific ICT resources are the focus of some lessons; discussion and debate are common features of our lessons, leading to the development of the skills required to write analytical essays evaluating the topics studied. Students are given the opportunity to attend conferences twice a year led by Peter Vardy and Julie Arliss which serve to consolidate learning and inspire further enquiry.

Entry requirements

A GCSE Religious Studies qualification is not required for the course: it is open to all those who are fascinated by philosophical and ethical questions of meaning, purpose and truth. It serves a set well to have a group with a variety of backgrounds, whether religious or not. Obviously, all applicants will need to demonstrate a high level of ability in their GCSE results in order to feel confident of achieving a good grade in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics.


The AS course forms 50% of the assessment weighting of the whole A level, and may be taken as a stand alone qualification based on the outcome of two exams.

There are two examined elements in the A2 course: an Ethics paper and a Philosophy of Religion paper, both of which draw upon the content of the two-year course and require an element of synopsis.

Future opportunities

Universities highly respect this A level. The academic content and the implied ability to reason, debate, justify, empathise, enquire, research and write, which is nurtured in RS students, is greatly valued. The course is very useful for careers in Law, Journalism and Politics, whilst future medical students and scientists will benefit especially from the Ethics units.

Further information

Which courses work well with Religious Studies?

This course combines well with most of the A level subjects offered. For scientists, it offers the antithesis of their field of study; many famous philosophers were scientists as well as theologians searching for the answers to ultimate questions. Essay writing skills and the critical examination of literature and primary sources are common features of Humanities subjects and English. In terms of content, there are significant links made with Psychology, and religious art has recently been popularised as a vehicle for examining key philosophical themes.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Ipswich School directly.

Last updated date: 20 May 2014
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