What Is Religious Studies: Philosophy & Ethics?
This is not a course teaching people to be religious – or convincing people to stop being religious.
This is a course about thinking philosophically. This means setting your emotions to one side and considering a matter coolly and rationally, following ideas through to their logical conclusions. Sometimes those conclusions may clash with the teachings of a particular religion and sometimes they may clash with the assumptions made by atheists. It is not our intention to change anybody’s mind, only to help students think clearly about important matters.
Staff & Classes
Psychology is taught at the Grammar School as an AS and A Level GCE subject. It is offered as an option to all students in year 12 and 13. Students do not need previous experience in the subject to do the AS/A Level. However, the course involves essay writing under exam conditions so a strong(B+) pass in GCSE English or Religious Studies (full course) is desirable. Success at and (more importantly) enjoyment of GCSE Religious Studies (short course) will certainly help.
The AS/A Level follows the Edexcel Specification and is completed on a modular basis.
The number of sets in each year group fluctuates slightly, but in 2009/10 there is one set in Year 12 with a dozen students and one set in Year 13 with just two. Lessons are characterised by lively discussion and debate.
The AS Course
In Year 12 students think about two main topics: the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics.
Philosophy of Religion covers arguments for and against the existence of God, miracles, prayer and the problem of evil and suffering in this world. Ethics covers reasons for believing in good and evil, different opinions about why things are right and wrong and a study of ethical dilemmas like war and sexuality.
Unit 1 - FOUNDATIONS
This paper consists of short essays where the students get to show their understanding of ideas about the existence of God and the nature of morality.
Unit 2 - INVESTIGATIONS
This paper sets one longer essay about the relationship between religion and science, giving students a chance to reflect on evolution, artificial intelligence and multiple universes.
The A2 Course
Year 13 carries on the study of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics in greater depth.
Philosophy of Religion looks at more complex arguments for the existence of God and the philosophy behind Atheism as an outlook on life, as well religious experiences and religious language. Ethics looks at some of the more unusual ethical theories, the relationship between religion and morality and moral relativism, as well as considering the philosophy of law and justice.
Unit 3 - DEVELOPMENTS
This paper consists of short essays where students get to write more evaluatively and analytically about the existence or non-existence of God and the nature of morality.
Unit 4 – IMPLICATIONS
Students take their pre-released anthology into the exam and answer one question from a choice of 9, explaining the philosophical ideas in the texts and showing an understanding of their place in the philosophy of ethics and religion.