Christian Theology & Philosophy
Religious Studies is taught to all pupils throughout the School. The department's main aim is to ensure that pupils leave the School with a sound knowledge, understanding and critical awareness of the Catholic Christian faith. Integral to this aim is the moral and spiritual formation of the students, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding their own faith and values.
The RS Department has six teachers with qualifications in theology, philosophy, psychology of religion, pastoral theology and education. We have a large resource area of books and electronic resources for use by staff and students. We run frequent trips and visits, including recent annual trips to Rome for Sixth Form students.
Key Stage 3
Year 7 are introduced to central themes within Christian Theology with a programme based around the liturgical year. Year 8 builds on this using the sacraments and architecture of Westminster Cathedral as a way in which to consider more deeply the mysteries central to the Christian faith.
Year 9 follow a structured programme based around a study of the person of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, and a consideration of Judaism as the context for the Gospel and as the roots of Christianity. The course is based on Edexcel’s GCSE specification as a preparation for formal GCSE studies in Years 10 and 11.
All students in Years 10 and 11 follow the Edexcel GCSE specification A. This includes three areas of study: 1) A detailed examination of Catholic beliefs, teachings, practices and lifestyle; 2) A study of Islam as a second religion; and 3) Philosophical and ethical issues from a Catholic Christian perspective. In all of this, pupils are asked to evaluate the origins and nature of religious belief and practice from a variety of different perspectives, religious and secular.
The A Level course follows the OCR specification, looking particularly at issues in Philosophy of Religion, Religious Ethics, and Developments in Christian thought. These three strands bring together diverse areas such as arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, religious experience, ethical theories and their application to issues such as business ethics and euthanasia, feminism, Marxism and secularisation. The course is challenging but immensely engaging, enabling students to read widely, engage in lively discussions and learn how to formulate their own arguments.
The Philosophy course is offered at both Standard and Higher levels. The purpose of the course is to enable students to think philosophically, to evaluate and put forward arguments, through consideration of issues surrounding what it means to be human, ethics, politics and religion. In addition to this, pupils study J. S. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ as their set text. Students of philosophy become adept at critical thinking, better able to think logically and identify weaknesses in arguments.
Theory of Knowledge
The department also delivers the Theory of Knowledge element of the IB curriculum with a careful and broad study of the ways in which we gain knowledge. The ToK course is part of the core of the IB and all students are required to complete it. The course is assessed through a 1600 word essay and a presentation.