The RS Department aims to teach "the Christian values which lie at the heart of the College" and to furnish pupils with the ability and opportunity to explore the implications of belief socially, practically and intellectually.
In the Sixth Form these aims are broadened to focus more directly on some of the specifically philosophical and ethical issues which impact on modern life. This prepares students to think critically about the world and their place in it, and to develop an awareness that ‘ideas have consequences.’
About the Curriculum
Our A Level curriculum in RS is tremendously wide, ranging in both content and in the skills it nurtures. We study the philosophy of religion, dealing with the traditional arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil and of religious language. To get the most from this study we look more broadly at the way arguments work and take a quick tour of the history of philosophy more generally. The second paper taken is on religion and ethics which requires a study of some of the schools of ethical thinking (utilitarianism, deontology and natural law, for example) and also some more topical approaches such as environmental and sexual ethics. The third paper deepens students’ understanding of the Christian heritage by examining key New Testament texts – especially the Gospels- from the perspectives of the historian and the literary critic. All this contributes to a broad, fascinating and an excellent ‘lesson’ in the humanities for anyone who chooses to take it on.
These strategies are taken further again in Sixth Form study where more independent reading and thought are strongly fostered. Essay writing skills are prioritised and a sharp focus is given to precision in thought and expression, and in keeping with the subject matter. Discussion remains central: to contribute one’s own thoughts to a group for wider critique is vital in honing and developing ideas and approaches.
Several students have used their grounding in these disciplines as a basis for entries in various essay competitions or for an EPQ. The real enrichment on offer, though, is in terms of personal maturity and intellectual development as we explore these intrinsically important issues.
Religious Studies sits alongside any other humanities subject in terms of its ‘saleability.’ We have had several recent students go on to study Theology/Religious Studies at Oxford and other Russell Group universities; likewise many students find it a useful springboard for PPE type courses. Many others go on to study Law, English, History and a variety of other subjects. For these students, RS has provided a distinctive angle on the world and has contributed to their all-round education. We ask ‘big’ questions and look carefully at some of the most significant answers on offer.