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Religious Studies

Curriculum Intent

At Holcombe we aim to deliver the following ambitious outcomes for our students through our curriculum. Students will:

  • Be aspirational and ready for the next step in life
  • Achieve high quality academic outcomes
  • Develop as effective, efficient, resilient learners who can work independently towards ambitious goals
  • Develop an awareness of their own strengths and acquire effective habits to be successful at school and beyond
  • Develop long term knowledge and skills which can be effectively deployed in new circumstances
  • Develop the cultural capital to be able to successfully engage with a wide variety of social situations
  • Develop an awareness of their place as a citizen in the school, wider community and the world beyond

Key Stage 3

Religious Studies is a fascinating and diverse subject and during their time at Holcombe students will examine the beliefs and practices of the six major world religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, as well as considering non-religious spirituality and attitudes. We also spend lots of time analysing ethical issues, and problems affecting society and the world as we know it. Students will explore children’s rights, war and peace, crime and punishment, the environment, prejudice and discrimination and much more.  We also examine some of the major philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God in KS3. This is a challenging topic, but one which students thoroughly enjoy!

Studying R.S. helps students to develop important skills and habits which will benefit them both at school and outside of it, in the workplace and as citizens in the wider community and the world. Students will learn to empathise, evaluate, express themselves, analyse, investigate, interpret, communicate effectively, reflect and much more. Religious Studies is one of the few subjects which gives students the chance to express their ideas and opinions, and supports their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Through studying R.S. students learn to appreciate and respect different ideas and ways of life as long as these are consistent with British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths. Students do not have to be religious to study R.S. – we are learning about religion and spirituality (whether religious or non-religious), and while students will explore their own beliefs and values, the subject does not teach them to be religious.

Year 7

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Introduction to beliefs and
practices, Hinduism - Core beliefs
Hinduism – key practicesIslam – core beliefsIslam – key practicesSikhism – core beliefsSikhism – key practices



Year 8

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Caring About Issues – rights and responsibilitiesCaring About Issues – our global communityCaring About Issues – moral decision makingIntroduction to Philosophy of ReligionArguments for and Against God’s Existence – ultimate questionsArguments for and Against God’s Existence – philosophical responses



Year 9

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Buddhism – core beliefsBuddhism – key practicesComparative religionInspirational peopleChristianity - Beliefs & Teachings: Nature of God, Trinity and CreedsChristianity - Beliefs & Teachings: Creation, the Fall and Problem of evil

KS3 Learning Journey

Please see attached Key Stage 3 Learning Journey for Religious Studies.

Key Stage 4

Religious Studies is a challenging but extremely rewarding subject to study at GCSE and the Religious Studies department is very proud of its students’ success at this level.

We study OCR’s Religious Studies specification at GCSE, and the elements of the course cover Christianity, Islam and religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a Christian perspective.  This focus enables our 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, the pace of religion in the modern world, the existence of God, and ethical issues such as euthanasia and violence and conflict.  At GCSE we want students to look forward to their lessons in 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 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 three exams undertaken at the end of the two year course.

Christianity (Beliefs and Teachings, and Practices) – Students examine a number of the fundamental 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 beliefs about God, life after death, festivals, places of pilgrimage and the divisions between denominations. 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.  This unit is examined via a one hour exam.

Islam (Beliefs and Teachings, and Practices) – Students develop their knowledge and understanding of Islam and explore the core beliefs within this faith and the significance these beliefs have for Muslims, as well as examining Muslim practices and how they reflect these beliefs. This unit includes learning about the nature of Allah, prophethood, life after death, the five pillars of Islam, worship, festivals and Jihad. Students will analyse the similarities and differences between different groups within Islam. This unit is examined via a one hour exam.

Religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a Christian perspective – Over the course of this unit, students learn about different Christian and non-religious attitudes to family roles and relationships, gender roles, equality, arguments for the existence of God, religious experience, war, peace and conflict, forgiveness and dialogues within and between religious and non-religious beliefs and attitudes. 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 the views they express. This unit is examined via a two hour exam.

At KS4 all students study Religious Studies for one period each fortnight 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 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 with a particular focus on business, environmental and medical ethics. Students are encouraged to engage in the Holcombe Debate Society to further enhance their consideration of issues relating to

Religious Studies complements just about any other subject such as Business Studies, History, Sociology, Psychology and Geography. Religious Studies can also be a useful complement to Sciences, particularly for those who wish to follow a career in medicine or psychology, and universities consider it to be a beneficial choice for those who wish to pursue a career in Law. The many valuable skills developed through the subject support students in achieving their potential both academically and pastorally. Students who have studied R.S. at GCSE regularly attain positions of responsibility within school such as Head Boy/Girl or members of the School Captains Team, and are often among those who succeed in obtaining a place at Oxford, Cambridge or other top universities.

Comments from past students include:

“When people ask me what I did at GCSE/A Level and I say ‘Religious Studies’, they always assume it was an easy subject that I sailed through. Nothing has developed me more in terms of how I think and interact with others and it’s the subject I’ll miss and value the most.”

“Studying R.S. at both GCSE and A level was extremely rewarding. It enabled me to discuss current and past ethical issues in a safe environment with dedicated teachers. Being able to debate with fellow students gave me the confidence to have a greater impact on my school in general, helping me achieve my role on the School Captains Team where discussing my views with others was vital. The R.S. department couldn’t have helped me more throughout my time at Holcombe.”

Year 10

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
J625/01 Christianity – Beliefs and teachings: Jesus Christ, salvation, eschatology.J625/01 Christianity – Practices: Worship and prayer, pilgrimageJ625/01 Christianity – Practices: Role of the Church in the community and the worldJ625/02 Islam - Beliefs & Teachings: core beliefs, prophethood, sources of authority and eschatologyJ625/02 Islam - Practices: Public and private acts of worship and Five Pillars, Festivals and JihadJ625/06 Religion, Philosophy and Ethics in the Modern World from a Christian Perspective: Relationships and families


Year 10 Core

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Exploring spiritualityExploring spiritualityQuestions of Philosophy, Ethics and TheologyQuestions of Philosophy, Ethics and TheologyChristianity – Practices: Rites of passageChristianity – Practices: Rites of passage


Year 11

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
J625/06 Religion, Philosophy and Ethics in the Modern World from a Christian Perspective: The Existence of GodJ625/06 Religion, Philosophy and Ethics in the Modern World from a Christian Perspective: The Existence of God AND  Religion, peace and conflictJ625/06 Religion, Philosophy and Ethics in the Modern World from a Christian Perspective: Religion, peace and conflictJ625/06 Religion, Philosophy and Ethics in the Modern World from a Christian Perspective: Dialogue between religious and non-religious beliefs and attitudesJ625/06 Religion, Philosophy and Ethics in the Modern World from a Christian Perspective: Dialogue between religious and non-religious beliefs and attitudes and revisionEXAMS and revision

KS4 Learning Journey

Please see attached Key Stage 4 Learning Journey for Religious Studies.

Years 12 and 13

Religious Studies requires students to engage with many of the ultimate questions which have fascinated humanity for millennia. To be successful in this subject an enquiring mind, the ability to think critically, and an enthusiasm for debate are essential.  Students will need to question, analyse, interpret, apply and evaluate a range of theories concerning the nature of belief and morality. Throughout the course the ability to make comparisons and connections between various concepts is developed. Students must construct and communicate articulate arguments and this frequently requires students to understand and argue points of view that may be contrary to their own. We study OCR’s Religious Studies specification which includes Philosophy of Religion, Religious Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought. Our students are consistently positive about the value in studying this subject at A level (although they are always honest about the significant level of intellectual challenge it involves!)

Comments from past students include:

“When people hear of the subject ‘Religious Studies’ they may assume it involves only studying religions around the world which, to many, is not a very attractive subject. However, taking this subject is far from that. The material is so absorbing and it enlightens you, helping you to develop not just skills, but your own identity and perspective on the entire universe. There is no other subject that engages with philosophical problems, ethical dilemmas and the ever-progressing world of today as much as Religious Studies does. It is more than looking at the practices and principles of different religions, rather it is about finding answers to the universe’s greatest questions and forming beliefs of your own. Finally, it complements almost any other subject you may take (the number of times I would refer to scholars I had learnt about in R.S. in my English classes is unbelievable) and is very well respected by universities.”

“Religious Studies is one of the most relevant and interesting subjects I have studied to date, in both the nature of the topics and ethical questions raised, but in the skills the subject allowed me to develop and nurture. It improved my writing style and ability to think critically in essays requiring well-articulated and developed thought. The subject allows you to express your opinions on certain topics, but expects development and justification to reach informed and balanced judgements; a skill which is transferable across all my other A Levels. The topics studied are relevant to the world and applicable to things happening around us every day, such as business ethics and the ethical implications of the running of business and topics such as whistleblowing. This allows both a better understanding of current affairs, but also the ability to approach situations and topics with a broader perspective before reaching opinions and judgements. Furthermore, the skills nurtured in my studies of RS are, in my opinion, applicable to my intention to pursue a career in law. It has allowed me to be analytical and process topics before breaking them down to reach an evaluative evaluation. This is demonstrated by the privacy scandals of ‘Facebook’, where the principles found in modern philosopher Immanuel Kant’s “Categorical Imperatives” could be applied, such as the principle of universalisation, to conclude that Facebook are unethically treating the users as a means to an end, the end arguably being commercial dominance in access to personal data.”


Year 12

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Philosophy: Intro to Philosophy,
Plato & Aristotle
Ethics: Intro to Ethics, Natural Law
Theology:  Augustine on Human Nature
Philosophy: Soul Mind & Body
Ethics: Situation Ethics
Theology:  Death and the Afterlife
Philosophy:  Arguments from Observation
Ethics: Kantian Ethics
Theology: Knowledge of God’s Existence
Philosophy:  Arguments from Reason
Ethics: Utilitarianism
Theology: Person of Jesus Christ
Philosophy: Religious Experience
Ethics: Euthanasia
Theology: Christian Moral Principles
Philosophy: The Problem of Evil
Ethics: Business Ethics
Theology: Christian Moral Action



Year 13

Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Philosophy: The Problem of Evil
Ethics: Euthanasia
Theology: Christian Moral Action
Philosophy: Religious Language
Ethics: Meta Ethics
Theology: Religious Pluralism and Theology
Philosophy: 20th Century Perspectives on Religious Language
Ethics: Conscience
Theology: Religious Pluralism and Society

Philosophy: Attributes of God

Ethics: Sexual Ethics

Theology: Gender and Society

Theology: The Challenge of Secularism

Theology: Liberation Theology and Marx

Theology: Gender and Theology


KS5 Learning Journey

Please see attached Key Stage 5 Learning Journey for Religious Studies.

Online Learning Support

There are many useful sources for information and learning support for Religious Studies. Here are some of the ones which we suggest you may find useful:

This is the exam board we use for GCSE and A level Religious Studies. On the OCR website you can see the specifications, sample papers, specimen mark schemes, examiners’ reports and sample answers to exam questions.

Very useful for knowledge and understanding of a diverse range of faiths.

Useful overview of different ethical issues.

Lots of useful information about Christianity – also lots of short video clips which are helpful to get a clearer understanding from a Christian viewpoint. This is a good source for KS3 and KS4 students.

Useful video clips for students of all ages about religious belief and practice.

Knowledge and quizzes for KS3 Religious Studies.

This site is very useful KS4 students –particularly for the ethics topics.

Most useful content is on the Christianity tab. Gives an outline of different Christian beliefs and the basis of them, and key practices.

This site support GCSE study in all subjects.

Seneca enables students to test themselves on key GCSE RS content.

Knowledge and quizzes for GCSE RS content.

A level resources including exemplar essays for all three units of the course.

A level resources including exemplar essays for all units, sample essay questions and advice.


The skills and subject knowledge developed in Religious Studies can be of great benefit to those intending to study many Arts subjects at Higher Education, but the subject complements virtually any other. The skills honed in R.S. are especially useful in careers requiring the ability to prepare, present and challenge arguments, good interpersonal skills and cultural awareness. Some of the valuable transferrable skills developed in Religious Studies include:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong skills of evaluation and analysis
  • An enquiring mind and problem solving abilities
  • Creative thinking
  • Empathy and understanding for other perspectives
  • Willingness to engage in discussion and debate
  • Metacognition in understanding one’s own views
  • Persistence and a positive approach to challenges
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Time management skills and the ability to meet deadlines

The development of these skills through Religious Studies equips students for a huge array of career paths including law, education, journalism, social work, politics, medicine, marketing, management, administration, public services, charity work, the civil service, the media and many more!

British Values

Through studying Religious Studies students further develop their understanding of the following British values:

  • Democracy: This essential value is modelled by teachers and students are expected to respect the right to be heard of every individual. Opportunities to discuss, debate and share opinions are a key part of Religious Studies lessons and as such students develop the willingness to engage in discussion/argument yet to disagree reasonably and respectfully about religious, moral and spiritual questions.
  • The rule of law: Students examine moral decision making and consider different ethical codes for living, (and philosophical theories of ethics at A-level). They look at the concept of equality in the law, particularly in relation to race, gender, religion and sexuality.
  • Individual liberty: Students explore questions about identity and belonging, and examine relevant moral issues such as punishment, equality, euthanasia and human rights. Students develop self-understanding and self-awareness enabling them to feel confident about their own beliefs and identity and to develop a realistic and positive sense of their own religious, moral and spiritual ideas.
  • Mutual respect: Students learn to appreciate and respect different cultures, worldviews, faiths and beliefs, and that they must be respectful when challenging or evaluating other people’s ideas. Through Religious Studies they develop wonder and awe at the amazing diversity of religious and spiritual belief and practice (both religious and non-religious). Students learn to be sensitive to the feelings and ideas of others and the possible impact of ideas and behaviour on others, to be open to points of view different from one’s own and to discern between what is worthy of respect and what is not.
  • Tolerance: Appreciation of and respect for their own and other cultures and faiths is a fundamental part of Religious Studies. Students learn to recognise the rights of others to hold their own views.