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Exam Board and Specification Codes: OCR (H573)

Are there other realities beyond the physical world? Is your mind a part of your body? Were humans carefully designed by a creator or is our existence an unintended quirk of nature?

What is the most valuable thing in the world? What should we care about the most? Does life have a purpose? Is it wrong to kill someone who wants to die? 

Are humans essentially wicked and sinful? Does anyone deserve to suffer an eternal punishment? Was Jesus a revolutionary? Should Christians fight to overthrow capitalism?   

The above are just a small sample of the fascinating questions raised by the syllabus, but they also give a flavour of the kinds of discussion and debate in which a student of the subject at A-Level will be invited to engage.

What is covered by the course?

Component 1 - Philosophy

  • Plato and Aristotle’s theories of the soul
  • Descartes’ theory of the mind
  • Arguments for the existence of God: ontological, cosmological and teleological
  • Arguments against the existence of God: the problem of evil

Component 2 - Ethics

  • Immanuel Kant’s deontological ethics
  • J. S. Mill’s utilitarianism
  • Thomas Aquinas’s Natural Moral Law
  • Sexual ethics
  • Euthanasia

Component 3 - Religion

  • A choice between Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism

How is it examined?

At the end of the two years, pupils sit three papers, each of them 2 hours long.

Paper 1 - Written Assessment (2 hours)

  • Three essay questions
  • 33.33% of the A-Level

Paper 2 - Written Assessment (2 hours)

  • Three essay questions
  • 33.33% of the A-Level

Paper 3 - Written Assessment (2 hours)

  • Three essay questions
  • 33.33% of the A-Level

Related university courses & careers?

The valuable transferable skills gained through Religious Studies set students up well for any arts or humanities course at university. The courses the most closely linked are, of course, Theology and Philosophy, but, owing to its interdisciplinary nature, students also emerge from the A-Level well-equipped to study subjects as diverse as Law, English, and the Social Sciences. The way of thinking it promotes, the breadth of subject matter it covers, and the academic skills it imparts provide a good grounding for a variety of careers.

Suggested literature & resources

‘Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy’ by Simon Blackburn
‘Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics’ by Simon Blackburn
‘What does it all mean? A very shorty introduction to philosophy’ by Thomas Nagel
‘Philosophy: The Basics’ by Nigel Warburton 
‘Western Philosophy: An Anthology’ by John Cottingham 

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W2 4AT

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59 Queen's Gate,
South Kensington, London,

Tel: +44 (0)20 7225 0577

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