Exam Board – OCR

Qualification – A Level H573

Entry requirements – GCSE grade 5 in philosophy and ethics and grade 5 in English

Course specification

The OCR A Level in religious studies will build on the knowledge, understanding and skills established at GCSE level. Learners will be introduced to a more advanced approach to religious studies, and will develop a deeper understanding of the beliefs, teachings and philosophy they study. The course will cover three components; philosophy of religion, religion and ethics, and developments in Christian thought.

“Philosophy and ethics is often considered to be just about learning about God. As a student currently studying this subject I can tell you, it is far from just that! Philosophy and ethics is fundamentally a love of logic.”

– Student

In philosophy of religion learners will study philosophical issues and questions raised by religion and belief. These include arguments regarding the existence or non-existence of God, the nature and influence of religious experience and the problems of evil and suffering. They will also explore philosophical language and thought, through significant concepts and the works of key thinkers, illustrated in issues or debates in the philosophy of religion.

Religion and ethics is characterised by the study of ethical language and thought, with exploration of key concepts and the works of influential thinkers. Ethical theory will also be applied to issues of importance; namely euthanasia, business ethics, and sexual ethics.

Developments in Christian thought provides an opportunity for the systematic study of one religious tradition. This will include the exploration of religious beliefs, values, teachings and practices that shape religious identity, as well as sources of wisdom and authority. Also central are the ways in which religious traditions have developed over time, and religious responses to challenges and significant contemporary social issues.

Studying philosophy and ethics is like going down a rabbit hole. The subject begins with an examination of some of the basics of Western philosophy, and expands from there.

Interconnecting ideas and beliefs begin to become apparent and the intricacies of the subject take form. Philosophy and ethics is a heavily content driven subject, so it requires students to take responsibility for their progress and take on wider reading in their study time. The majority of homework set is essay based, in order to prepare students for the final examinations.

During the two years of study, we offer trips to Krakow and Auschwitz and Amsterdam. The aim of these visits is to enrich our students’ education as well as supporting their studies.

What doors will this open up for me?

Philosophy is the ultimate transferable skill. With its emphasis on reason and argumentation, philosophy is an excellent preparation for a career in law, religion, business, international diplomacy, teaching, social work and psychotherapy, medicine or journalism and writing. As well as this, most world leaders study philosophy at university alongside politics and economics.

According to a recent study, philosophy students do better in verbal and writing skills than students with any other A Levels. This shows the ability that philosophy has to support any degree with a demand for essay writing skills.

Learning journey

Our learning journeys can be used to understand each subject in more detail.

Philosophy and ethics