St Augustine's Catholic College

A Level Religion, Philosophy & Ethics

Religious Studies is a stimulating A Level course which deals with some of the significant questions in life, such as:

  • If God is good, then why is there evil in the world?

  • Should Christianity change to keep up with the times?

  • What, if anything, does religion have to contribute to contemporary moral debate?

It offers intellectual challenge and allows students to develop an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of religion and its contribution to the wider world.

What will I study?

The course has 3 equal components – 1. A Study of Christianity, 2. Philosophy of Religion, and 3. Religion and Ethics.

A Study of Christianity:

This component involves an in-depth and rigorous study of Christianity, covering themes ranging from religious figures and sacred texts to practices that shape religious identity. It also considers how social and historical developments have impacted Christianity, e.g. the changing roles of men and women and how they are reflected in Feminist theology.

Philosophy of Religion:

This component gives the opportunity to undertake an in-depth and wide-ranging study of fundamental philosophical ideas, ranging from arguments for the existence of God to the use of religious language. It also explores some of the challenges to religious belief, such as the growth of atheism, and arguments from Freud and Jung suggesting that religion is the product of the human mind.

Religion and Ethics:

This component requires an in-depth and broad study of fundamental ethical themes, ranging from ethical language and thought to freewill and determinism. It also applies different ethical theories to important moral issues, such as sexual ethics, the use of nuclear weapons as a deterrent and the use of animal experimentation for medical research.

How is it taught?

The course is taught with a strong emphasis on discussion, lively informed debate, independent reading and research. Each component involves exploring how significant ideas have been presented in the works of key scholars. The subject requires and helps students to develop the ability to research and analyse complex material, construct and critically evaluate synoptic arguments and develop good essay writing skills. However, it also encourages in students religious tolerance and respect, alongside a strong sense of their own values and attitudes in the light of their study.

How useful is A level Religious Studies?

Religious Studies provides a solid foundation for future study, especially in higher education courses in the arts, humanities, law and social sciences. The Russell Group place it alongside History and Economics as good preparation for University study. It gives a good foundation for a career in education, journalism, law, media and the caring professions, amongst others. It produces students who have sound independent study skills, an enquiring mind, an appreciation of different viewpoints and the ability to come to clear, balanced decisions – all qualities valued by employers.


All units are assessed by written examination at the end of the 2 -year course (3 x 2-hour exams).