Religious Studies is an increasingly popular subject to study at AS and A2 level. This is due in part to the consistently strong GCSE results in the subject at BMS, but mostly because of the content of the course.
The new curriculum allows an approach to the subject which is accessible whilst retaining its academic rigour. A measure of the interest generated amongst our students is the proportion of them who go on to study either Theology, or related subjects, at university: ten in the last two years have gone on to do so at Russell Group Universities, as well as the enthusiasm for the subject generated during the courses.
Those who have not studied the subject at GCSE level will not find themselves disadvantaged as these are stand-alone courses which complement a wide range of interests: Indeed, those joining the subject from outside the department consistently perform to the same high academic standards in the final examinations. The courses aim to promote an enquiring, critical and empathetic approach to the study of belief systems. It is therefore equally appropriate to those taking predominantly science focussed subjects as those with a Humanities or wider Arts portfolio.
There is a great deal of contiguity and complementarity across the curriculum, particularly in terms of the skills required in other essay based subjects such as English or History. As a Department we focus on the skills of academic argument and reasoning, which link to and assist in the development of clarity of thought.
Which syllabus do we follow?
We follow the AQA course in Religious Studies.
There are four units in total, two at AS and two at A2.
What is each unit about?
Religion and Ethics 1
AS unit 1 is called Religion and Ethics. How do we understand the process of making ethical decisions? Is there such a thing as a ‘wrong’ decision? Pupils look at two systems, Utilitarianism and Situation Ethics and apply them to a variety of issues as well as evaluating the systems’ own usefulness. It also deals with religious and ethical understandings of the nature and value of human life, as well as dealing in detail with abortion and euthanasia
AS unit 10 is called Islam: The Way of Submission. It deals with aspects of the core theology of Islam, looking at the nature and authority of the Qur’an. The Five pillars, the doctrine of God and finally looks at the concepts of Risalah and Akhirah.
A2 unit 3H is called ‘World Religions 2: Islam’. It builds upon the AS course in Islam and looks at the importance of Shari’ah and the role it plays in the lives of Muslims. This is followed by a look at the two minority groups within Islam, Shi’a Islam and Sufi Islam. The last topic area looks at the role, purpose and importance of Women and the family in Islam.
A2 unit 4B is called ‘Religious Fundamentalism’. In this topic at least two different contemporary fundamentalist movements are studied. The module also investigates what is the essential nature of fundamentalism in general. Historically, how did it arise, how does it arise, and how should we react to it?
How is each unit examined?
AS Units 1 – 2
Students sit two 1 hour 15 minute exams, one for each of the two modules. On each paper students answer two questions out of four. These examinations account for 50% of the A Level.
Students sit a 1 hour 30 minute exam. Students answer two questions out of four on their topic. This accounts for 25% of the A Level.
Students sit a 1 hour 30 minute exam. Students answer one question. This accounts for 25% of the A Level.
It is clear that the opportunity to study some fascinating areas of thought is on offer. Students of all academic persuasions certainly benefit from introduction to topics which have exercised the minds of the greatest thinkers of the last two, three and four millennia.
It is worth making clear to those considering joining the Sixth Form from other academic institutions that Religious Studies is taken seriously at BMS. Approximately half of Years 10 and 11 opt for the subject at GCSE level and in recent years have achieved outstanding proportions of A and A* grades. This success follows on into the Sixth Form with last year’s students gaining 100% A and C Grades at A2 and 92% A and C Grades at AS. If you are a suitable candidate for the subject at BMS, you can achieve similar success in the subject: a recent example includes a student who improved his B at GCSE to A Grade at AS.
Religious Studies provides an excellent stepping stone to a wide variety of courses at the top Universities. Previous students of the subject have gone on to study Theology, Philosophy, Anthropology, Oriental Studies, Economics, History, Geography, Law and Physics, at many different Universities including, Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham, Durham, The LSE, Birmingham and Loughborough.