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Religious Studies A Level at Raine's Foundation School

Course description

This course is for students who want to explore the deeper questions behind religion and the structures that inform it. It is a rigorous and philosophical course that challenges candidates’ own beliefs as well as those of contemporary religions. Christianity is the primary religion studied, alongside the thoughts of some of the world’s greatest philosophers and theologians.

Candidates for this course should be prepared for some big thinking. Students will also explore some of the most important ethical questions, just as relevant today as when they were first asked.

What will I study?

At AS, the specification concentrates on a number of key religious and moral themes, intended to provide students with a broad introduction to understanding religious ideas.

Religion and ethics

1.       Utilitarianism

  • Strengths and weaknesses of the ethical systems of Bentham and Mill
  • Which is more important – the ending of pain and suffering, or the increase of pleasure?
  • How worthwhile is the pursuit of happiness, and is it all that people desire?
  • How compatible is Utilitarianism with a religious approach to ethics?

2.       Situation Ethics

  • Strengths and weaknesses of Situation Ethics as an ethical system
  • Does Christian love allow people to do anything, depending on the context, and how far is it true that love should be the highest Christian law, overruling all others when necessary?
  • How practical is Situation Ethics?
  • How compatible is Situation Ethics with other Christian approaches to moral decision-making?

3.       Religious teaching on the nature and value of human life

  • How far must a religious view of life be fatalistic?
  • How far can religion support the idea of equality?
  • Human life must be given priority over non-human life and some human lives are more valuable than others – how far could religion accept this view?

4.       Abortion and euthanasia

  • Does the definition of human life stop abortion being murder?
  • Can abortion and euthanasia ever be said to be ‘good’?
  • Do humans have a right to life, and a right to choose to die?

Philosophy of Religion

1.       The cosmological argument: Aquinas’s arguments for the existence of God, and what we mean by God. God as the temporal first cause; God as the sustainer of motion, causation and existence; God as the explanation of why there is something rather than nothing.

  • How far does the cosmological argument prove that God exists or show that it is reasonable to believe in God?
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the argument
  • The value of this argument for religious faith

2.       Religious experience

  • Can religious experience show that God probably exists?
  • Is it necessary to have a religious experience in order to be able to understand what a religious experience is?
  • How successful are the challenges to religious experience from philosophy and science?

3.       Psychology and religion

  • Has ‘God’ been explained away by psychology?
  • The strengths and weaknesses of psychological views of religion
  • What is the relationship between religion and mental health?

4.       Atheism and postmodernism

  • Is religion in retreat in the modern world?
  • Is postmodernism an affirmation of religion?
  • How successfully has religion responded to the challenge of atheism?

A2 Study deepens the understanding developed in the AS course.

  • Libertarianism, free will and determinism; are we free at all?
  • Virtue Ethics: what does it mean to be a good person?
  • Religious views on sexual behaviour and human relationships: what does religion and society say about the complex world of relationships?
  • Science and technology: how should we react to cloning, animal experiments and genetic engineering?
  • In addition there is an in depth essay submitted that draws on all the areas of RS previously studied at post-16 level.

Entry requirements

5 GCSE grades at A-C including English and RS are strongly recommended. A Grade B or above in English GCSE is also strongly recommended.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Raine's Foundation School directly.

Last updated date: 25 March 2015
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 1-2 years