Key Stage 4
Religious Studies is a challenging but extremely rewarding subject to study at GCSE. The Religious Studies department is very proud of its students’ success at this level with 100% of students achieving grade A*-C in 2011 and nearly every year since, and many students achieving full marks on one or more of their examination papers.
We study OCR’s World Religions A specification at GCSE, and focus specifically on the Christian religion. This focus enables the students to build on their considerable prior learning effectively, and then to stretch themselves to excel. It is also very important that students explore and learn how to express and justify their own views on issues such as marriage, charity, diversity within a faith, and ethical issues such as euthanasia and animal rights. At GCSE we want students to look forward to their three periods of Religious Studies each week and to engage in class discussions and debates with enthusiasm. There is a lot to learn, but we work hard to make learning relevant, interesting and fun! We visit local places of worship to expand our understanding of key beliefs and practices, and also have special speakers who come into lessons to give us first-hand insight into topics such as pilgrimage.
There is no coursework for GCSE Religious Studies, and the final assessment is based on attainment in 4 one hour long exams, usually undertaken at the end of the three year course.
Christianity 1 (Beliefs, Special days, Divisions and Interpretations) –Students examine a number of the core beliefs held by Christians and look in more depth at the impact these have on the life of a Christian. Some examples of topics covered include festivals, places of pilgrimage and the divisions between denominations.
Christianity 2 (Worship, Community and Family, Sacred Writings) – Students examine how different groups of Christians approach aspects such as worship and family life. They also look at how this contributes to social and global community cohesion. How the Bible is used in public and private worship, family roles and religious ceremonies are other key areas of study.
Perspectives on World Religions – This unit explores a wealth of fascinating topics including responsibility for the planet, war, peace, justice and human rights, equality of race and gender and attitudes towards other religions. Students will consider their own views in relation to these as well as examining a range of Christian responses.
Ethics (Relationships, Medical Ethics, Poverty and Wealth) – Over the course of this unit, students learn about different attitudes to euthanasia, abortion, animal rights, poverty, marriage and divorce and much more. They will think about the way in which Christians’ beliefs on these issues affect their life and outlook in today’s world, and as always, must consider and justify their own views.
Religious Studies is capable of complementing just about any other subject such as Business Studies, History and Geography. Religious Studies can also be a useful complement to Science, particularly for those who wish to follow a career in medicine. The skills developed in Religious Studies include interpersonal skills, communication and evaluation; among other things all of which are exceptionally important in most jobs, particularly the social sector. These skills could be particularly useful for careers such as law, education, social work, politics, medicine, administration, public services, the media and many more!
At KS4 all students study Religious Studies for one period each week as this is a statutory subject. While this ‘Core R.S.’ is not externally examined, the skills developed (including empathy, communication, evaluation and many more) help to support students in their other GCSE subjects and in their lives outside of school. Over the course of year 9, 10 and 11 students have the opportunity to explore several major religious traditions, atheism and humanism, and to discuss and debate ethical issues and relate them to the world we live in today. We also undertake media units where key themes such as forgiveness, retribution, discrimination and the person of Christ are explored through the medium of film. Students undertake a number of projects during their core R.S. lessons including designing and building a church in year 9, and discovering the legacy of the Sikh gurus in year 11.