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Religious Studies A Level at Carmel College, a Catholic Academy

Course description

The ability to think clearly and logically, the opportunity to study the greatest thinkers the world has produced, and the forum to argue about the most dangerous and contentious issues in human history. That is Religious Studies.

Many people too readily assume that Religious Studies lacks academic value and has no vocational relevance. This is often due to the false assumption that RS is the same as the old ‘scripture’ lesson. Today’s approach to RS incorporates educational principles which are applied in any other subject.

At Carmel College students wishing to continue their studies of religion or go on to study a vibrant new area may choose to take Religious Studies. The course leads to either an AS (after one year) or an A level (after the two years) in Philosophy and Ethics from the OCR examining board.

The subject covers Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, the fathers of critical thinking, to the giants of modern day philosophy. Students will explore concepts of God as creator and characteristics such as his ‘goodness’; these will be questioned as to their meaning and reliability. Students will go on to study the challenges to religion from society, science and suffering. The religious response through the classical proofs for the existence of God will be studied, criticised and evaluated.

There are various issues involved in religious language, through the study of Ethics, the meaning of terms and the use of the word ‘good’ is unpacked as is the Relativist vs Universalist debate. Through the centuries there have been developments of ethical schools of thought such as Natural Law, Utilitarianism, the Categorical Imperative right up to the modern day with Virtue ethics and Proportionalism. These are studied, analysed and compared. The student will need to have an interest in current affairs as there will be the expectation to apply these theories to recent issues such as genetics, transplants, embryology, sexual ethics, punishment, environment, business and war.

A successful student at this subject will need to enjoy reading, have the skills to be able to write essays, and have the facility to analyse and keep an open mind. Throughout the course the emphasis is on application of knowledge and so a thorough understanding will be required. This will be gained through participation in class discussions, attendance at lectures given by guest lecturers and independent research through the department’s extensive subject library and the many recommended websites. Particularly in A2 study, students will have a greater maturity of thought and expression and more developed analytical skills. 

Course content

The specification to be studied is approved by the OCR examining board.

There are two areas of study:

PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION This covers topics such as: Greek philosophy and the Old Testament; proofs for the existence of God; the problem of evil and suffering; religious language; religion and science; miracles; revelation; the nature of God; life after death and, religious experience.

ETHICS This covers topics such as Meta ethics; relativism and universalism; ethical theories; the nature and role of conscience; medical and sexual ethics; business and environmental ethics and, war and pacifism.

The timetabled allocation for the subject is five hours per week. You will have one teacher for Philosophy and another for Ethics. You will need to spend AT LEAST four hours per week in personal study. During this time it is important to read books, journals and media reports, and to research podcasts and websites using the links on the SharePoint site.

Entry requirements

If you have studied RE, we require you to have a grade ‘B’ or above. You must also have a grade ‘B’ in English in order to meet the demands of essay writing.


  • Philosophy AS / Ethics AS

These will be examined in the first year.

  • Philosophy A2 / Ethics A2

These will be examined in the second year.

Examination is through 2 exams in the first year and a further 2 in the second year. The exams require two essays to be written.

Future opportunities

If you plan to go to a college for further / higher education RS will be readily accepted. RS A-Level is accepted by the Universities as a subject of academic standing for entry requirements.


How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Carmel College, a Catholic Academy directly.

Last updated date: 05 September 2016

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