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Religious Studies A Level at Westcliff High School for Boys

Course description

The study of RE enables students to consider and respond to a range of important questions related to their own spiritual development, the development of values and attitudes and fundamental questions concerning the meaning and purpose of life. The academic aims of the Department are to develop the learning potential of the students, by enabling them to think critically and communicate effectively through a variety of media; to encourage learning in an active, engaging, and enjoyable manner. 

Course content

The Advanced Subsidiary Curriculum: Unit 1: Philosophy of Religion 1 (90 minute examination). 50%

In year 12, studies in Philosophy focus on the possibility of God’s existence and challenges to them, from classical ancient Greece (Plato and Aristotle), the high Middle Ages (Thomas Aquinas), and scholars responding to the European Enlightenment (William Paley, Emmanuel Kant). Challenges to the existence of God are studied in two units, focusing on the Problem of Evil and Suffering, and a new unit in Science and Religion. Contemporary issues involving modern scientific theory, and the possible links between the two disciplines are considered. 

Unit 2: Religious Ethics 1 (90 minute examination). 50%

Ethical studies in year 12 focus on four major theories, and how they are applied to medical ethics and the nature of modern warfare. Natural Law, and other forms of religious ethics are pitted against utilitarian theories (Bentham, Mill, Singer, Hare) and the duty-based ethics of Immanuel Kant. These are then applied to difficult situations arising out of the debates on abortion and euthanasia; the right to a child and genetic engineering; War and Peace. 

The A2 Curriculum: Unit 3: Philosophy of Religion 2 (90 minute examination). 50%

Year 13 studies are much broader, with fewer but larger units covered. In Philosophy, the existence of God is presumed, and issues surrounding the Nature and Attributes of God are explored. Similarly, how one speaks about God is a feature of a study of the varieties of Religious Language. Given these broad assumptions, issues surrounding Religious Experience and Miracles are explored critically, using a variety of case studies (Toronto Blessing, Stigmata amongst others). The course ends almost where it begins, with a detailed critique of the possibility of life after death, and how this is coherent alongside beliefs in a soul and/or mind. A variety of models are considered, and in it we return to the problem of evil.

Unit 4: Religious Ethics 2 (90 minute examination). 50% 

Year 13 Ethics returns to studies in Aristotle and Aquinas via Virtue Ethics and the nature and role of the Conscience. Alongside studies in the Nature and Attributes of God, we consider the extent to which humans are free to make moral decisions. A further unit concerning the nature and meaning of ethical language (Meta Ethics) widens the debate on language generally. Our ethical theories are then finally applied to issues surrounding Environmental and Business ethics, and contemporary issues surrounding Sexuality.

Entry requirements

No prior knowledge of the subject is required. The specifications build on, but do not depend on, the knowledge, understanding and skills specified for GCSE Religious Studies. It is recommended that candidates have attained communication and literacy skills at a level equivalent to GCSE Grade B in English. Indeed, students who have no previous (GCSE) qualifications have recently succeeded in obtaining grade A.


The aims of these specifications are to encourage candidates to :

  • develop their interest in and enthusiasm for a rigorous study of religion and relate it to the wider world;
  • treat the subject as an academic discipline by developing knowledge, understanding and skills appropriate to the specialist study of religion;
  • adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of religion;
  • reflect on and develop their own values, opinions and attitudes in the light of their learning.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Westcliff High School for Boys directly.

Last updated date: 09 June 2015

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