Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics

Why Study Religion, Philosophy and Ethics?

Religious Studies is multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary. Not only is it the study of what religions believe and do, it is also a study of: significant events that have changed history; the origins of fundamental beliefs that have shaped cultures; the impact of belief on the rise of science; and the continuing societal influence religion has on the modern world.

The study of religion, philosophy and ethics often includes the study of a range of other subjects: science, sociology and psychology, for example. This multi-disciplinary approach helps develop a variety of skills and subject knowledge that enriches student experiences in other fields of study. Philosophy is one of the oldest and most well-respected academic disciplines and feeds into multiple subjects up to university level. Ethics undeniably influences politics, law and medicine and, therefore, those with an interest in such areas may find the study of philosophy and ethics at both GCSE and A-Level to be of great value.

What is studied at KS3?

What is Religious Studies and why is it important?

Students in KS3 explore a range of beliefs, teachings and concepts in Religious Studies. They are also encouraged to think for themselves in relation to all the topics we study.

As Socrates once said:

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

By this he meant that to be human is to be self-consciously human. To reflect on one’s thoughts, desires, motives and to try to fully understand oneself and, of course, others.

The same theme was carved on the walls in the temple to Apollo:

‘gnōthi seauton’ – ‘Know Thyself’.

An important opportunity for students at Kendrick in studying religion is to understand the origins of the beliefs and actions of others, and discover for themselves their position in this religious and, increasingly, non-religious world.

Year 7 

In Year 7 students will study selected beliefs and practices of the six world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism; Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

This will give them a good basic knowledge of some of the most influential religions for both future study and, more importantly, knowledge of the origins and diversity of significant beliefs and practices expressed within our multicultural society.

For example, they will study:

In Hinduism: puja, reincarnation, yoga.

In Buddhism: The three treasures, the eightfold path and the life of a monk.

In Sikhism: The ten gurus, the 5Ks and sewa.

In Judaism: The covenants, the mitzvot and the Sabbath

In Christianity: salvation, baptism and denominational diversity.

In Islam: The five pillars, Ramadan and islamaphobia

Year 8 

In Year 8 students will build on the knowledge they have learned in Year 7. Most of their work will explore different kinds of theme in religion. This will encourage them to explore more than just the basic beliefs and teachings, but how religion impacts on the lives of believers.

They will explore:

  • Religious symbolism
  • Sacred space
  • Mythical themes
  • Poverty
  • Sacred Text

Year 9 

In Year 9 they are encouraged to stretch and challenge their thinking skills. They now build on their understanding of the basic beliefs and teachings and how they impact on individuals, and begin to explore more philosophical and ethical thoughts within religious discourse.

They will study:

  • Approaches to the study of religion [anthropological, sociological and psychological].
  • Philosophy of religion
  • The study of ethics
  • Women in Faith
  • New religious movements.

Assessment at KS3 in Religious Studies 

Assessment in Religious Studies is not only focused on remembering and recalling facts, but applying those facts in a skillful manner.

Students are trained to write in a logical, coherent and meaningful way in order to express concise reasoning in relation to questions asked.

Self-assessment, peer assessment and teacher guidance are central to student academic development and students are trained to revise effectively using well-researched revision methods.

P4C – Philosophy For Children 

Students are also expected to develop compassion and empathy for other people’s perspectives through P4C [Philosophy For Children] discussions that encourage them to explore ideas in a circle of discussion. Here, they learn about each other’s thoughts and feelings about different topics and develop questions based on a given stimulus. They then explore a chosen question [usually related to the course of study] and openly explore their responses to those questions in a thoughtful and responsive manner. Here, students go beyond the curriculum and bring in outside knowledge and experiences to share with others in a respectful environment.

What is studied at KS4? 

Exam Board: AQA Religious Studies A (8062MA)

Why Study Religion, Philosophy and Ethics

Whether one is religious or not, no-one would dispute the idea that religion and religious beliefs have a significant impact on the world. This course gives students the opportunity to study the two largest world religions, including what they do and the beliefs that lie behind those actions. This, combined with Philosophy and Ethics, makes for a course that encourages deep reflection on the way we and others view the world and how we respond to it.

This multidisciplinary approach helps develop a variety of skills and subject knowledge that enriches student experiences in other fields of study. Philosophy is one of the oldest and most well-respected academic disciplines and feeds into multiple subjects up to university level. Ethics influences politics, law and medicine and, therefore, those with an interest in such areas may find the Religious Studies course to be of great value.

The course comprises two components:

1. The study of religions: beliefs, teachings and practices.

2. Thematic studies.

For the study of religions, we will specialise in Christianity and Islam and explore the key beliefs, teachings and practices of these two major world religions.

For the thematic studies, we will explore four themes that focus on philosophical and ethical issues. Each of these themes gives students the opportunity to apply two or more religious or non-religious attitudes to each of the following issues:

Relationships and families

  • Issues relating to sexual relationships.
  • Marriage and divorce.
  • The purpose of families.
  • Roles of men and women and gender equality.

Religion and life

  • Abortion o Euthanasia
  • Animal experimentation/rights.
  • Religious and scientific ideas about the origins of the universe and the origins of life.
  • Environmental ethics.

The existence of God and revelation

Religious and non-religious attitudes towards:

  • Philosophical arguments for God’s existence.
  • Miracles
  • Evil and suffering
  • Scientific arguments about the origins of the world and life
  • Revelation; visions; special revelation; enlightenment.

Religion, peace and conflict.

  • Peace, justice and forgiveness.
  • Violence and violent protest.
  • Terrorism
  • Reasons for war.
  • Pacifism.
  • Nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction.

There are two examinations, each 1hr 45min in length.

Paper 1: Study of religions (Christianity/Islam): Written examination: 1hr 45min – 50%

Paper 2: Thematic Studies: Written examination: 1hr 45min – 50%

This is an exciting course that will incite debate and discussion. 

For further information on the course, please go to

What is studied at KS5?

A Level Philosophy [AQA]

Philosophy is one of the oldest academic traditions dating back to the ancient Greeks. It is still thriving today as an important academic subject studied at the highest level in top university courses.

Philosophy organises knowledge in order to make sense of what we know and to reveal new insights.

“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

Two great traditions that have had a huge impact on the world have their roots in Philosophy: Maths and Science. They are now studied in their own right, but quite often the greatest mathematicians and scientists have also been great philosophers.

Philosophy attempts to unpack an understanding of the world in a different way to science. It uses the logic of language, the evidence around us and the ability to think these through in order to solve problems that are fundamental to human existence and our understanding of the nature of reality itself.

A-Level Philosophy is a two-year course with two three hour exams at the end of Y13.

The A-Level Philosophy course comprises four key topic areas:

  • Epistemology [Philosophy of Knowledge]
  • Metaphysics of Morals
  • Metaphysics of God
  • Metaphysics of Mind

Epistemology explores:

  • What is knowledge
  • Perception as a source of knowledge
  • Reason as a source of knowledge

Metaphysics of Morals explores:

  • Normative ethical theories [utilitarianism, etc.]
  • Applied ethics [stealing, eating animals, telling lies, etc]
  • Meta-Ethics [the origins of morality]

Metaphysics of God explores:

  • The concept and nature of God
  • Arguments relating to God’s existence
  • Religious Language

Metaphysics of Mind explores:

  • What do we mean by mind?
  • Dualist theories [mind and body are different]
  • Physicalist theories [mind and body are the same]
  • Functionalism [thought experiments arguing that mind and body are different but not physically]


Mr Paul Nemeth - Subject Leader

Mrs Ella Callcut-John