Religious Studies

The RS Department encourages a genuine exploration of the world faiths to provide pupils with vital tools– an open mind and the habit of analysis. The aim is to explore the relevance of religion to everyday life and contemporary ethical dilemmas.

As a Cathedral School, there is a commitment to the teaching of the life of Jesus. Religious Studies is about our responses to profound experiences such as death, suffering, good and evil, as well as the search for meaning and purpose in life. It is hoped pupils will find “ransacking the treasures of the world religions illuminating, challenging and meaningful” as they figure out their own philosophy of life.

> Years 7-9

Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are investigated through text & story, film, artwork, authentic artefacts, as well as writing and discussion. Ceremonies and ritual are examined alongside beliefs and values. The course covers the four world faiths mentioned as well as an introduction to philosophy, and Darwinism.

> GCSE

All pupils take GCSE Short Course RS: Religion and Life. Ethical concerns facing society today are studied from the perspective of both Christianity and Islam and the GCSE course involves much discussion about the real world. Non-religious value systems are also considered as well as the relevant law, medical practice and religious teachings and texts. Some classic arguments in philosophy are also introduced as well as medical ethics, life after death, and religious or gender discrimination in the UK.

The course enables pupils to develop consistent views of their own on faith and lifestyles. In this subject, they are awarded marks for their own opinions so long as they supply rational, considered reasons.

> A Level

At A Level, Philosophy and Ethics take over. Pupils study the classic arguments for God’s existence; evil and solutions to the problem of evil; mystical experience, for example, Dame Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love. In the ethics module, pupils look at the Utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, Catholic Natural Law and Liberal Situation-based ethics, all illustrated in the fields of medical and sexual ethics.

At A2, there are further studies in ethics, ranging from peace and conflict studies to the frontiers of modern medicine - genetics, therapeutic cloning and the care of neo-natal babies. Kantian and Virtue Ethics are the additional theories studied.

At A2, there is the challenge of a long dissertation on one aspect of religion, for example, life after death or theories of human nature, giving pupils the freedom to choose their own line of inquiry and to work within several faiths, if they wish.

If a pupil enjoys discovering new ideas, debate and dialogue, reading texts and analysing arguments, then she or he will enjoy philosophy and ethics at A Level.

> Co-curricular

St. John’s Door – a weekly Sixth Form seminar on the analysis of religious texts.

> Trips

The following trips were organised for the academic year 2012 – 2013:

British Museum: Babylon & Royal Academy: Byzantium.

Hay Festival & the Globe at Hay Philosophy Institute: Don Cupitt on Myths to Maths.

Bloomsbury Conference: Peter Vardy on Immanuel Kant. Sexual Ethics.

British Museum: Hajj and Pilgrimage to Mecca.

Hereford’s Mappa Mundi for Christian Symbols.

Hereford Cathedral Conference: Conflict and the Just War Tradition.

Gloucester Cathedral Conference: Professor Grayling on Euthanasia and End of Life.

Malvern Conference: Greedy Bankers and Business Ethics. Utilitarianism Today.

Film for ‘fun’: Les Miserables at The Courtyard, Hereford.

Lecture: Dr. Jeffrey John, Dean of St. Albans, on Same Sex and Equal Marriage.

Website by Orphans.co.uk