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Religion and Philosophy

This course offers you the opportunity to engage with some of the most fundamental and challenging issues that have faced us as human beings. Together, religion and philosophy have shaped, and continue to shape human life at the deepest levels, providing ways of making sense of our existence and determining the values by which we live; in short, these disciplines form the foundations on which all cultures are built. Not only do these two subjects offer a range of answers about what to think – even more importantly, they teach us how to think, and to meet the spiritual and ethical challenges of the 21st century.

In the Philosophy of Religion unit you will study philosophical arguments concerning the nature of God and God's existence; the nature of soul, mind and body; the problem of evil; the nature, impact and credibility of religious experience; and the problems of expressing religious ideas and experiences in language.

The Religion and Ethics unit comprises study of a range of religious and non-religious ethical theories, and how these can be applied to the ethical issues raised by business, euthanasia and sexuality. We explore the nature of conscience, and finally meta-ethics - the study of whether and in what sense ethical values are 'real'.

The Developments in Religious Thought unit explores Christian beliefs, values and teachings, and how these vary historically and in the contemporary world, as well as challenges to religious belief from secular philosophies; we also study theology’s relationship with issues of gender and feminism, as well as economic justice and Marxism.

You will learn through discussion and presentations, as well as reading and essay-writing, and will develop the ability to analyse and marshal complex material, and formulate and present rigorous and well-justified arguments. Students are expected to complete five hours of homework per week.

Who should choose it?

You should choose A Level Religion and Philosophy if:

  • you are interested in the ideas that shape the world you live in, including the principles that underpin our political, legal and moral systems
  • you enjoy thinking critically and are prepared to challenge yourself and your beliefs, values and preconceptions
  • you enjoy discussion, reading and writing, and want to develop these skills to a high level in preparation for university study

Highly-regarded academic subjects in their own right at university level, the analytical skills and knowledge of cultural, historical and ethical issues developed in A Level Religion and Philosophy can also assist entry to a diverse range of university courses, such as English Literature, History, Psychology, Law and Development/Area Studies. Prospective medical and Bio-Science students find the study of ethics very useful and budding lawyers enjoy the chance to develop their skills in presenting arguments.

It is not necessary to have completed a GCSE in Religious Studies to study Religion and Philosophy to A Level.

What other subjects go well with a level Religion and Philosophy?

Subjects whose subject-matter complement aspects of RP, and which encourage close analysis of texts: English Literature and English Language, History, Latin and other foreign languages, Psychology, Government & Politics. The ethical and logical aspects of RP also go well with Biology and Maths respectively.

Beyond the classroom

The department organises trips for Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth to attend highly relevant A Level RP conferences each year. The department runs highly successful overseas trips which support the RP curriculum, such as the recent trips to Greece and Amsterdam.

Course details

You will complete three papers:

Paper 1 Philosophy of Religion

  • 33.33% of the A Level
  • 120 marks
  • Exam: Two hours

Paper 2 Religion and Ethics

  • 33.33% of the A Level
  • 120 marks
  • Exam: Two hours

Paper 3 Textual Studies

  • 33.33% of the A Level
  • 120 marks
  • Exam: Two hours

Further information on the contents of the course can be obtained from the OCR website, and members of the RP department are always happy to answer questions.

"RP has provided me with invaluable skills which are taught in an engaging and supportive environment. It has not only enhanced my ability to articulate philosophical ideas, but given me the confidence to formulate and convey my own opinions effectively. It’s a truly unique subject which provides you with a wellrounded knowledge and set of skills, which are applicable to any other A Level subject and RP will undoubtedly work well with them." Ellie, Sixth Former

"For me personally, RP has been invaluable for me in terms of independent study; out of all of my A Level subjects, I feel it has helped me the most to become much more independent in terms of research and confidence. I feel that the chance for discussion in RP is also like no other subject; and RP is great preparation for the university atmosphere that I'll be experiencing very soon." Grace, Sixth Former