What is A-Level Religious Studies (REP)?
We use the title Religion, Ethics and Philosophy as the A level is divided into these 3 disciplines. This is the A level that follows on from the GCSE you will have possibly studied beforehand. Religion, Ethics and Philosophy permeates all aspects of humanity and culture and has always influenced history, politics, economics, psychology, literature, art and music. This is an exciting, thought-provoking and rigorous subject which allows students to explore and engage with a wide range of disciplines. This dynamic course will nurture an enquiring and critical approach to its study.
In studying Religion, Ethics and Philosophy, you will develop important skills of analysis and evaluation; making judgements as to whether the evidence and ideas you encounter do indeed present a persuasive argument. You will also develop written skills in order to answer essay based questions during the course.
The A level is assessed entirely by examinations, comprising the study of the following three elements, each examined at the end of the course by a 2-hour paper:
• One of the world’s major religions: Judaism
• Religion and Ethics
• The Philosophy of Religion
What you'll do
Studying a religion
Students will build on their appreciation of religious belief and practice by exploring Judaism in a far more meaningful, satisfying depth and breadth than at GCSE. This will include a study of relevant and contemporary issues, (e.g. an exploration of feminist theology, a study of the relationship between Judaism and secular society, post-Holocaust theology, identity, etc.)
Studying the Philosophy of Religion
Students will explore the religious philosophy underpinning faith and the challenges posed by secular philosophy. They will examine questions about the nature and existence of God and consider whether belief in God is philosophically viable. They will also study the meaning of religious language, the problem of evil and suffering in the world and the nature of religious experiences (and if such experiences can be proven).
Students explore questions about human intentions and behaviour. Are there such things as “good” and “bad” or are these simply human constructs? Are there any absolute rights or wrongs (and if so, how do we determine this), or is everything relative? Is morality religion-dependent? What about atheists? We look at a wide range of ethical theories (both religious and secular) and apply them to various ethical issues that face society today, such as abortion, euthanasia, animal experimentation, war, homosexuality and polyamorous relationships.
Activities outside the classroom
We aim to attend Candle conference lectures from key speakers on a variety of topics linked to the ethics and philosophy part of the course, where hundreds of A level students attend are able to debate with one another. We also hold Webinars with Clare Lloyd an author of Ethics and Philosophy text books. She is great communicator, with ample experience leading student and teacher training sessions for A level RS.
To support the Judaism component, we visit the synagogue in Oxford where we have a bespoke session in which students are able to ask a huge range of questions. We also plan a talk from a holocaust survivor which supports our study of Holocaust Theology.
Prior to Covid, we joined the Classics department and visited Rome. We hope to include such trips once again.
Whom does this subject suit?
Any student with a proven record of accomplishment of sound skills in Humanities/English is welcome on our A level course, whilst those who took RS GCSE will have the opportunity to take their acquired knowledge to a much higher level. The course will appeal to anyone who has a genuine interest in religious thought and practice, philosophical and ethical perspectives and provides an excellent basis for continued study at university.
Most of our students will most likely have studied RS and the GCSE may provide them with a foundation of some of the religious teachings, ideas and terminology. However, the REP A level quickly builds on this from a starting point of assuming no prior knowledge.
What might the subject lead to?
The REP A level is a very flexible qualification. It is a recognised academic Humanities subject and many students proceed to Russell Group universities (including Oxbridge) to read for a wide range of subject-related degrees. In addition, positive research has demonstrated the esteem in which employers hold the subject, due to the breadth of the required analytical, critical and independent research skills.
REP is profitably studied in tandem with related Humanities subjects, with Sciences, with Ancient and Modern Languages and with the Creative Arts. Students in recent years have gone on to study Philosophy, PPE, Law, English Literature, Nursing, Fine Art, Medicine, Anthropology, Theology, Economics, Biology, Geography, Drama, Business, Psychology and Sociology.