GCSE Philosophy, Religion & Ethics

GCSE Religious Studies is aimed at pupils who enjoy questioning the world around them, engaging in critical evaluation of others’ beliefs and examining the fundamental questions that are at the heart of what it is to be a human being. Throughout the course, an open-minded, critical approach is encouraged with topics frequently being considered from more than one point of view. As well as gaining a clear understanding of the approach of two contrasting religious traditions and secular viewpoints, pupils will be able to discuss, analyse, and develop their own opinions about these important issues. The aim is for pupils to finish the Religious Studies course with a better understanding of their own and others’ views and a critical, creative approach to reasoned argument. With such a broad syllabus and relevance to current events, pupils will be inspired and excited by the opportunity to explore the impact of religion upon the world.

Course content

There are two examinations on the AQA syllabus and they are examined at the end of year 11:

  1. The Study of Religions
    This is an in depth study, comparison, analysis and evaluation of the beliefs and practices of Buddhism and Christianity.
  2. Philosophic and Ethical Thematic Studies
    This unit focuses on the exploration of four of the following themes:
  • Religion and Life e.g. the origins of the universe, the use and abuse of animals, abortion, euthanasia, the afterlife.
  • The existence of God and revelation e.g. the design argument, the cosmological argument, miracles, atheism.
  • Religion, peace and conflict e.g. protest, terrorism, war, nuclear weapons, pacifism, holy war.
  • Religion, crime and punishment e.g. reasons for crime, aims of punishment, forgiveness, the death penalty.
  • Religion, human rights and social justice e.g. prejudice, discrimination, wealth, poverty, religious freedoms.


Pupils have the opportunity to:

  • visit a Buddhist Temple; Visit sites of ethical significance on the joint History and PRE Berlin trip
  • attend Philosophy Club

Next steps

Religious Studies is a popular subject that introduces pupils to the skills required in A Level courses and in the world of work. Pupils interested in careers in law, business, the arts, journalism, teaching, civil service and academia would benefit from having a GCSE in Religious Studies.

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