Religion, Ethics and Philosophy

Subject Leader

Miss S Philip – sphilip@oriel.w-sussex.sch.uk

Teaching Staff

Mrs N Barnes – nbarnes@oriel.w-sussex.sch.uk

Miss C Ryder – cryder@oriel.w-sussex.sch.uk

Mrs B Montague – bmontague@oriel.w-sussex.sch.uk

Religion, Ethics and Philosophy aims to develop students understanding of the world around them and how it is shaped by religious belief as well as teach students how to develop their own opinion and think critically about the world. Following the West Sussex Agreed Syllabus means that we are inclusive of all students from different faith backgrounds and none and allow students to explore the ultimate questions of human existence. We develop student’s ability to give reason for their argument and understand why others may disagree. Our schemes of work are a mix of learning about different religions and cultures as well as considering ethical and moral questions.


Key Stage 3 Overview

In Years 7 and 8 and 9 students study REP for 2 hours over a fortnight and be assessed on 2 skills:

AO1: demonstrating knowledge and insight

AO2: arguing and expressing views

They will study the following topics over the course of the 3 years:

Year 7


Old TestamentFive PillarsSocial InjusticeJesus in Art
We look at some of the main stories that form the basis of the Christian and Jewish faith. This includes looking at the meaning behind the stories for people of faith and how they relate to the practices and cultures of people today.The main focus of this scheme of work is the practices in Islam and the 5 pillars. For instance, we look at how they pray and why these rituals are important to them. We also then look at women in Islam as well as the concept of Jihad and how this is portrayed in the media versus what the word means for Muslims.We look at key figures throughout history who have fought for civil rights and how religion has influenced them. We look at a range of people from different religious backgrounds for example, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Muhammad Ali encouraging our students to think critically e.g. debating the advantages and disadvantages of Gandhi’s pacifist approach.In this scheme of work, we look at different stories about Jesus as represented through different art work. We discuss which artwork best represents what happens in the stories and why artists have chosen to represent the story in this way. We also discuss different representations of Jesus from different parts of the world and why they exist.

Year 8


Christian ChurchHinduismEthicsJudaism
We look at the different denominations in Christianity and how they came to exist looking at the different practices of each and why those differences exist.We look at the beliefs of Hindu for instance, their beliefs about God and the afterlife. We then look at how this informs their practices.We look at various ethical issues and debate them. Students are encouraged to give good reason for their opinion as well as to listen to others. We also discuss what is meant by being “good” or “bad” and whether we can come up with a definitive definition.We look at Jewish identity and how that has been informed by their history. We look at the practices of Jewish people today as well as persecution faced by Jews and how this effects individuals’ faith.

Year 9


IslamNew TestamentPeace and ConflictBuddhism
We look at the different between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims as well as their beliefs about God, the five pillars, the afterlife and the importance of the prophets for Muslims. We look at stories from the New Testament that are relevant to Christians today. We look at the concept of salvation and what this means to Christians.We consider the ethics of war and look at different responses to war. We discuss what the best response might be and look at the disadvantages of each as well. We look at the story of the Buddha and what Buddhists believe about this life and life after death as well as how this informs their practice. We consider how this non-theistic religion is different to others.


GCSE overview

Years 10 and 11

Year 10 onwards begins preparation for the RE GCSE. We follow the OCR exam board: http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/gcse-religious-studies-j625-j125-from-2016/

This specification aims to enable students to:

  • Become more critical and reflective in their approach to studying religion
  • Explore beliefs on key questions and respond personally
  • Enhance their spiritual, personal, social and cultural development
  • Develop their own values and opinions

Some students will choose a full course GCSE option they will study:


Christianity beliefs teachings and practicesIslamic beliefs, teachings and practicesRelationships and Family
This scheme of work covers Christian beliefs about the nature of God, the origin of the universe, the problem of evil and suffering including different responses to it, who Jesus was, salvation and the afterlife. Students will also learn about the practices in different denominations and the importance of them such as baptism, the Eucharist and pilgrimage.This scheme of work covers Muslim beliefs about the nature of God, the prophets, different attitudes towards Imams, divine justice, the scriptures, the afterlife and the concept of free will and predestination. Students will also study the five pillars and their importance as well as pilgrimage, festivals and Jihad. Students will learn, debate and discuss different attitudes towards the importance of marriage, divorce, cohabitation, sex before marriage, homosexuality and gender roles in society and within the church.
Dialogues between religious and non-religious groupsPeace and conflictExistence of God
Students look at the influence that religion has had on our political structure, the origin of the Church of England and discuss whether or not it is still relevant today. They will look at different attitudes towards different issues in our society like faith schools, abortion, euthanasia, fertility treatment and equality. Students will consider the causes of conflict and discuss different responses to them and how effective they are. They will look at key figures through history and concepts like just war theory and pacifism. Students will look at different arguments for and against the existence of God and debate how strong these arguments are. They will look at challenges to God’s goodness and at how people of faith believe God is revealed in the world.

Some students will choose a short course GCSE, they will study the following topics:


Christian Beliefs and TeachingsIslam Beliefs and teachingsRelationships and FamilyDialogues between religious and non-religious groups
This scheme of work covers the Christian beliefs about God, the origin of the universe, the problem of evil and suffering including different responses to it, who Jesus was, salvation and the afterlife.This scheme of work covers Muslim beliefs about the nature of God, the prophets, different attitudes towards Imams, divine justice, the scriptures, the afterlife and the concept of free will and predestination.Students will learn, debate and discuss different attitudes towards the importance of marriage, divorce, cohabitation, sex before marriage, homosexuality and gender roles in society and within the church.Students look at the influence that religion has had on our political structure, the origin of the Church of England and discuss whether or not it is still relevant today. They will look at different attitudes towards different issues in our society like faith schools, abortion, euthanasia, fertility treatment and equality.


A Level Overview

The school offers Religious Studies A Level (traditionally known as Philosophy and Ethics) . We follow the OCR exam board http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-religious-studies-h173-h573-from-2016/

This specification aims to enable students to:

  • Develop their interest in the study of religion and relate it to the wider world
  • Develop skills appropriate to specialist study
  • Be critical and enquiring
  • Reflect on their own values in light of their learning

Philosophy of Religion 
Plato and Aristotle Students debate the nature of reality looking at Plato’s theory of the Forms and comparing to Aristotle’s four causes.
Arguments for the existence of GodStudents consider the strengths and weaknesses of arguments for the existence of God that come from our observation of the world, such as the teleological and cosmological arguments, as well as arguments that come from reason, such as the ontological argument.
Problem of EvilStudents discuss the existence of evil and how many have tried to justify the existence of a loving and forgiving God in the face of the suffering that is evident in the world.
Religious experienceStudents consider how reliable individual and corporate religious experience is. They study examples from the Bible as well as contemporary examples and look at the psychological and physiological explanations and compare with the supernatural explanations.
Religious languageStudents consider whether or not we can talk about religion in a meaningful way and what we mean by “meaningful”. They will consider questions like is a statement only meaningful if it conveys provable fact or can emotive statements be meaningful as well?
God’s attributesStudents debate questions like can we have free will if God is omniscient? What does it mean for God to be omnipotent? Can God only do the logically possible? Is “almighty” a better description of what God is?
SoulStudents discuss different beliefs about the soul and compare dualist views with monist and materialist views.

Ethics 
Natural lawA look at Aquinas’s theory of ethics and whether what is right and wrong is evident in nature. Does natural law make sense without God?
Kantian ethicsStudents consider Kant’s categorical imperative and whether what’s right and wrong can be universalised. Should we do what’s right because of it’s our duty or because of the consequences of the action?
UtilitarianismThe greatest good for the greatest number. Does this always make sense? Students study Bentham’s hedonic calculator and whether there are higher or lower pleasures.
Situation ethicsStudents look at Joseph Fletcher and the idea that the ethical thing to do has to be decided based on the circumstances. Is the most loving thing to do always the most ethical thing to do? And is it evident?
Meta-ethicsIs ethics decided by culture or something outside us? Can we ever say something is truly “right” or “wrong”? Is ethics a matter of people saying “boo” or “hurrah” to something, or is it more than that?
ConscienceHow do we have a conscience? Students look at the psychological explanation as well as various other explanations and whether or not our conscience is always right.
Sexual ethicsStudents look at different attitudes surrounding sex before marriage as well as homosexuality. They consider different ethical theories and how they can be applied to the issues.
Business ethicsStudents consider whether capitalism is any good, whether or not whistle-blowing is justified, whether companies have responsibilities to shareholders and issues around globalisation.
Euthanasia/Medical ethicsStudents look at the issues surrounding active and passive, voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia and the sanctity of life. They whether the religious perspective of the sanctity of life should influence the law whether we should be allowed complete autonomy over our lives.

Development in Christian Thought 
Augustine’s teachings on human natureStudents debate whether we are inherently sinful, the effects of original sin and human’s sexual nature. Students consider what human nature really is like and whether Augustine’s view is overall optimistic or pessimistic.
Death and the AfterlifeHumans consider the different Christian conceptions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. They debate how much sense they make as concepts and consider Calvinist beliefs about election and predestination
Knowledge of GodStudents debate how we can, or rather, if we can “know” God and what it means to “know”. They consider whether God can be known through reason or through experience and whether or not either of these methods are reliable.
Religious Pluralism and Society and TheologyStudents look at the value of inter-faith dialogue and the scriptural reasoning movement and how the Catholic Church and the Church of England have both responded and contributed to inter-faith dialogue. They also consider pluralist, exclusivist and inclusivist views.
Challenge of SecularismStudents looks at beliefs that God is an illusion, the psychological explanation and debate whether Christianity should play any role in public life.
Person of ChristConsider whether Jesus was the Son of God, whether he claimed to be and how this actually works and effects Christianity. Was Jesus trying to undermine the Roman and Jewish leadership or was he a teacher of wisdom?
Gender in theology and societyStudents debate the different genders are suited to different roles and how attitudes have changed. They will also look at gender roles in the Church and discuss whether Christianity as a whole is fundamentally sexist or not.
Moral PrinciplesHow do Christians make moral decisions? Biblical? If so, how to account for contradictions and interpretation? Should they use tradition/Church based (Catholicism). If so, on what authority? Why not just use the Bible? Love based/situation ethics (Tillich & Fletcher). What about the bits of the Bible that expressly forbid some acts? Isn't this just conscience based ethics?
Moral ActionStudents look at Bonhoeffer’s teachings on costly and cheap grace, costly discipleship, pacifism and criticisms of him.
Liberation theologyA look at Marx’s critiques of capitalism and 'conscientisation’ (being aware that there is inequality), Marx’s solution to inequality (grab your pitchforks) and Christianity's solution to poverty. How good is the Christian response to the poor or is Christianity primarily focused on the next life?