We aim to:
Encourage pupils to develop intellectual curiosity, including an interest and enthusiasm for gaining knowledge of different systems of belief, ethics and ways of life, including religious, moral, philosophical and cultural
Promote an understanding and appreciation of the impact that beliefs and values have on actions
Enable pupils to develop key critical thinking skills of analysis, interpretation, evaluation and argument
Empower pupils to become independent learners who are creative and collaborative
Engender pupils with an awareness and appreciation of the role that Religion and Philosophy play in the lives of individuals and communities; fostering cross-curricular connections through investigating a range of contemporary issues
Do I need to have a religious belief?
There is absolutely no reason for students of religion to be religious. All that is asked is that pupils adopt an open mind and attempt to appreciate the subtleties, nuances and intellectually demanding nature of the concepts contained in religious beliefs and practices.
Religion and philosophy in the lower school
In the light of the current curriculum reforms, the department is reviewing the way in which religion and philosophy is delivered in the Lower School. It is envisioned that all pupils will have the opportunity to increase their knowledge of religion, as well as developing their philosophical acumen, in the course of their Life Studies lessons. The emphasis on developing critical thinking skills as well as gaining knowledge will be deliberate and will reflect the wider aims of the department and School. In particular, it is anticipated that pupils will approach moral, social and political problems from a range of perspectives in an attempt to cultivate a more sophisticated understanding of the complexity of contemporary world issues. Debate will form a large part of class discussion and pupils will be encouraged to appreciate the difficulties to be found in making value judgements, particularly regarding ethical issues.
Religion and philosophy further up the school
The course will comprise of two main components: Study of Religion and Religious, Philosophical and Ethical Themes.
At the time of going to print, the new exam board specifications were still awaiting approval from OFQUAL, although it is anticipated that the course will require pupils to gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of two major world religions (Christianity and Islam) through a study of the various beliefs, teachings and sources of wisdom and authority central to those traditions.
The course will also enable pupils to examine fundamental questions regarding the nature and existence of God and the impact of religion in the 21st century through a study of topics such as peace and conflict and human relationships. This will provide an opportunity to apply philosophical and religious teachings to a variety of ethical and contemporary issues, all of which have relevance in our everyday lives.
The course makes no assumption concerning faith background. Indeed, the atheist’s position is welcomed as just as valid as that of the theist. What is demanded is an ability to construct well-reasoned arguments to support your view and a willingness to challenge the often unthinking acceptance of the consensus.
At A-level, the department offers Religious Studies as well as Philosophy which is taught as a distinct subject. Both courses allow pupils to consider a wide range of philosophical and ethical topics, ranging from war and euthanasia to the nature of the world around us and our place in it.
Students who opt for Religious Studies will be required to demonstrate knowledge, understanding and skills in three broad areas: Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Ethics, and Systematic Study of Religion (from the perspective of one major World religion, which will be decided once the new specifications are approved). At the time of going to print, the new exam board specifications were still awaiting approval from OFQUAL, however it is anticipated that topics will include:
Philosophy of Religion:
- Arguments for the existence of God
- Challenges to God’s existence
- The meaning and purpose of Religious Language
Comparative study of two major thinkers Religion and Ethics:
- Normative ethics, including both secular and religious approaches
- Applied ethical issues, e.g. medical ethics, sexual ethics, etc
Comparative study of two major thinkers Systematic Study of one religion:
- Religious beliefs, values and teachings
- Sources of authority and wisdom
- Religious forms of expression
- Practices and rituals