HHS religious studies department
In a world where young people are incessantly asked for their opinion, and as these opinions are held in such high regard by many facets of society, it is essential to be able to recognise, analyse, rebuild, evaluate, synthesise and empathise with a vast array of viewpoints and perspectives as well as being able to justify and provide reasons for your own.
Religious Studies and Philosophy allows students to hone these skills in a way that no other subject can, through the use of a teaching method that is over 2000 years old.
In Year 7, students begin with some thematic elements of religious studies to acclimatise them not only to new groups and classes but also for teachers to gauge knowledge levels from primary school, taking in a plethora of information.
Students study the different terms for beliefs (atheist, monotheist, agnostic etc), the chronology of the world's main religions, the symbols of these faiths and the meanings behind them, the possibility of miracles, the need for rules, the Ten Commandments, and several lessons regarding the study of religion itself.
Specialist vocabulary: atheist, agnostic, monotheist, polytheist, theist, deist, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Aquinas, laws of nature, Miracle, the 10 Commandments, Moses.
Our Introduction to RS covers a range of topics from morality to Christianity, and ideas about forgiveness. Students also learn to apply various religious and philosophical terms, as well as exploring why we should study this subject.
In the Religious Heroes unit, students study a different religious hero each lesson, and have to complete an independent learning task throughout the year.
Joan of Arc
Julian of Norwich
Martin Luther King
In the Summer Term, students follow a unit on Buddhism, exploring beliefs and practices associated with the religion, including meditation and rituals.
Internet links for Buddhism:
- Seven Years in Tibet
- The Dalai Lama's Twitter page
- The Life of the Buddha (YouTube)
- Sand mandala (YouTube)
The Problem of Evil: students study this philosophical problem in the Autumn Term, exploring possible solutions.
Looking for God: continuing the theme of philosophical questions, students explore the ideas surrounding God and God's qualities (and gender), and try to come to conclusions regarding their own beliefs about ultimate reality.
Sikhism: Students learn about Sikhism in society and a range of beliefs and practices. How and why Sikhs worship is also explored as part of the syllabus.
Students begin the year with a unit on Medical Ethics, exploring sometimes challenging and difficult topics concerned with medical ethics and religion, including abortion, fertility and euthanasia.
In the Spring term, we look at Religion, Wealth and Poverty, and what we can do about the problems of inequality. Students explore poverty in the UK and worldwide, and the work of religious organizations to combat it.
In a unit on Religion and Equality, students examine ideas about religious discrimination, Islamophobia and western society and Christian responses to it.
At GCSE, we follow the OCR course Religious Studies B: Philosophy and Applied Ethics (click for PDF specification).
The course aims to enable students to adopt a critical, reflective approach to the study of religion, to explore religions and beliefs, reflect on fundamental questions, engaging with them and respond personally. Taking a GCSE in RS will enhance their personal, social and cultural development, and their understanding of different cultures, helping students to reflect on and develop their own values, opinions and attitudes in the light of their learning.
The four units we study are:
- Deity, Religious Experience and End of LIfe
- Good and Evil, Revelation and Science
- Relationships, Medical Ethics, Poverty and Wealth
- Peace and Justice, Equality and the Media
Skills students will learn
- Cognitive and research skills
- Independent learning
- Debating skills
- Listening and respecting others' opinions
- Presentation skills
- Literacy (with specific reference to writing balanced arguments)
- Analysis and evaluation of contemporary global, political and religious viewpoints.
Assessment : 4 one-hour exams, answering 2 questions in each exam.
GCSE Religious Studies could lead into the further study of Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology, Citizenship, Law, English, History or Geography, among others.
You do not need to have studied RS at GCSE to do it at A-level, and you do not need to have religious views to do it: RS teaches you to defend your beliefs, whatever you believe.
This A level is for anyone who is interested in studying the big questions in Philosophy and Ethics, from both a religious and a non-religious viewpoint, such as:
- Where did the universe and human life come from?
- Do space, time and matter really exist, or are they constructed by the brain?
- Can we use reason and logic to prove that God exists?
- What are religious experiences?
- What happens after death? What is the evidence for reincarnation of the soul or resurrection of the body?
- What are near-death experiences evidence of?
- How do we account for the existence of evil and suffering in the world?
- Are moral values facts, or just statements of opinion?
- How should we behave in matters concerning marriage, divorce, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, war, genetic experimentation?
At the end of each year (AS and A2), you will take exams in Philosophy of Religion and Ethical theories.
RS teaches the skills of argument and analysis. It is therefore a major access route into careers like: Law, Medicine, Business, Journalism, Dentistry, Nursing, Teaching, Lecturing, Accountancy, and so on: in fact to any career that involves argument and analysis. At degree level, RS is often taken with Philosophy, Business Studies, Accountancy, the Sciences, and so on – because it shows your ability to think, plan and evaluate, valuable assets for any career.