RS and Philosophy

Departmental Information

The Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy offers dynamic and successful courses in all year groups. SMSC is clearly a key part of our curriculum, both implicitly and explicitly. We explore beliefs and experiences; promote respect for faiths and values and aim for pupils to enjoy learning about themselves, others and the surrounding world. Schemes of work and teaching styles enable pupils to use their imagination and creativity and to reflect upon their their experiences. Throughout the courses on offer, we provide opportunities for pupils to recognise right and wrong; to discuss the law and obedience to it, whilst understanding the consequences of our actions. We introduce pupils to the idea of investigating moral and ethical issues in the Lower School and develop this further in our GCSE courses and at A Level. The ability to think of and develop reasoned views is key to the skill of evaluation.

All students of King Edward’s follow the same path from the First Year to the Fourth Year. In the First Year pupils examine the purpose of studying religion and then follow this up with a study of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. This helps our students appreciate the advantage of living in a culture where different religious traditions flourish. In the Second Year we focus on how we learn about what people believe by exploring the stories they tell within their own communities. This includes a look at Jewish Faith History and stories of Jesus from the Gospels and is followed by a brief look at the foundations and beginnings of Islam.  Throughout these courses the skills of learning factual information and analysing ideas are practised in preparation for the GCSE examination. This work is critical to developing awareness of cultural differences and the role of worldviews in daily life. It is part of preparing students for a rapidly changing world where ideologies impact profoundly on everyone's lives. 

In the Third and Fourth Year all our students pursue the AQA Short Course A specification in Religious Studies as part of the core curriculum. In addition to this students may also opt to take a Full Course in Religious Studies and study for the HPQ. Christian beliefs and beliefs within Islam are studied at this level, with the themes of relationships and war, peace and conflict. In the full course, the themes of religion and life, alongside crime and punishment are studied alongside Christian practices and Muslim practices.

Aspects of Philosophy are also included within Extended Studies in the First Year and Open Forum in the Sixth Form.

Students who enjoy the challenge of thinking may choose to study A Level Philosophy. Here they can examine the nature of knowledge and the major thinkers contributions to moral philosophy - what is right and wrong and why. They can examine philosophical arguments for the existence of an intelligent creator (god not God) and explore philosophical and psychological explanations of 'mind'. They learn to reason and to write concisely; a perfect complement to both essay based subjects as well as science and maths. 

Our approach is always one of reasoned debate and careful exploration – very much in keeping with the spirit of King Edward’s.