Alumni Facility Hire

Religion, Philosophy & Ethics

What will students be studying this year?

Initially, Year 7 students will spend time examining their own beliefs and the views of their peers. This allows for important interaction and socialisation amongst the form class, helping students to explore each others’ views and backgrounds in a respectful manner. The students will then go on to consider the Origins of the Abrahamic Faiths i.e. Judaism, Islam and Christianity. They will consider the similarities and differences between them, including their history and values, in order to give students a firm foundation for studying Christianity and Islam further at GCSE and Judaism and Christianity as discrete topics following on from the introduction. We ensure that their understanding is not monolithic, but that there is an awareness of the diversity within religion, and similarities and differences between religions. The final topic for the summer term is Hinduism which is an introduction to the Eastern religions which will continue in Year 8. Throughout Year 7 students will have the opportunity to debate various issues and will also be introduced to Philosophy for Children in preparation for the units studied in Year 8 and the Philosophy unit studied at GCSE.

In Year 8 students will study Buddhism and will consider the similarities and differences between the two Eastern religions they have studied, including their shared history and values. Students will then begin an introduction to Philosophy starting with the unit ‘What is Real’, considering the scepticism of Plato and Descartes. They will then move onto ‘What does it mean to be human?’ which considers philosophical and ethical issues such as Artificial Intelligence, Animal Rights, Stoicism etc. Students are able to make links with their study of Buddhist ethics and this also provides a foundation for the philosophical and ethical issues of the Themes paper at GCSE.The last unit in Year 8 is an ethical one - Life and Death. This looks at ethical dilemmas such as abortion and euthanasia from a philosophical angle e.g. Natural Law versus Situation Ethics. It is a very accessible introduction to those topics studied not only at GCSE but also at A Level.

In Year 9 students will begin studying the full GCSE course which is examined at the end of Year 11. We will be following the AQA Religious Studies (A) GCSE specification (8062). On this course, students will prepare for two exam papers (1) ‘Religions: Beliefs, teachings and practices’ (Christianity and Islam) and (2) ‘Thematic studies’. The ‘Thematic studies’ paper allows students to explore religious, philosophical and ethical studies from a wide range of religious perspectives and also non-religious perspectives such as atheism and humanism. In Year 9, students will study, ‘Islam: Beliefs and teachings’ and ‘Christianity: Beliefs and teachings’.

What are the major assessments this year?

Each topic studied features an assessment at the end, and these take a number of forms from short answer knowledge recall, describe and explain questions in Year 7 at the end of each topic to essays based on GCSE style exam questions in Year 8. For each topic a detailed ‘tracking sheet’ is provided where students record their marks and reflect on how they are going to achieve their personal target in the next assessment. At the end of Year 7 there is a 50-minute ‘End of Year’ examination, which is undertaken by all students in the United Learning group on the two topics of Judaism and Christianity. In Year 8 there is a 50-minute exam at the end of the year where students will be assessed on Buddhism and a choice of either of the Philosophy topics. Throughout Year 9, students will complete practice GCSE questions and there will be end of unit assessments on Islam Beliefs and Christian Beliefs which follow the GCSE format. At the end of the year they will be tested on both of these topics in a final examination.

What will the current performance grade be based on, and what do the levels mean?

The current performance grade is based on all of the assessments and homework that they have completed to date. Students are provided with a specific levels descriptor sheet before each assessment. 

What should my daughter do if she feels she is struggling in the subject?

In the first instance, she should speak to her subject teacher. She should try to identify specific areas of the subject which she is finding a challenge so that we can offer targeted support which may take the form of lunchtime or after school support sessions. In addition she may be assigned a student from the sixth form who can offer help and advice.

How can I support my daughter?

The best way to support students is to talk to them about their studies, what they are particularly enjoying and whether they would like further help. Do try to engage them in discussion by asking them their views on topical issues, and whether they would agree or disagree with the views of others. An important skill that we try to develop in Year 7 is the ability to justify their opinions, and understand others, so you could challenge them to provide further support for their view, or to look at a topic from an alternative perspective. Discussing any ethical issues (for example, extremism or sexual discrimination) or philosophical issues (such as “why are we here?” or “what evidence is there for God’s existence?”) would be beneficial. Newspapers, television and radio are a great source of topical issues and there are often documentaries covering ethical or religious issues which are very accessible.

What kind of independent work should my daughter be completing?

Students are given regular independent homework to complete and this should be recorded in your daughter's planner.These tasks should build on what has been learnt in the lesson and should take between 20-30 minutes maximum to complete. When students’ homework and assessments are marked, they receive a number of targets and corrections and students should be proactive about working on these. Students should also keep abreast of contemporary issues in the news and discuss these topics with their friends and family outside of lessons.

Who can I contact for further advice and information?

Please feel free to contact the Head of RPE, Mrs Jackson, on with your question or concern. If you wish to withdraw your daughter from all or some RPE lessons, please contact your daughter's Head of Year.

Key Documents

United Learning comprises: United Learning Ltd (Registered in England No: 00018582. Charity No. 313999) UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee.
Registered address: United Learning, Worldwide House, Thorpe Wood, Peterborough, PE3 6SB.

Financial Accountability and Freedom of Information
Website Terms, Cookies and Privacy