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Religious Studies GCSE

Religious Studies GCSE

Course Length

One or two years.

The course

GCSE Religious Studies aims to introduce students to the critical and analytical study of religion. The specification is built on the beliefs and practices of the Christian and Islamic traditions. No religious affiliation or belief is necessary to benefit from this academically rigorous course.

The course contains two components: In Component 1 (The Study of Religions), you will study the main religious tradition of Great Britain, Christianity. You will study Christianity and Islam, and their sources of wisdom and authority via sacred texts and teachings. For both Christianity and Islam you will look at beliefs, teachings and practices. This includes the nature of God, the afterlife, worship, pilgrimage and the way that being Christian or Muslim affects believers’ lives today.

In Component 2 (Thematic Studies), you will need to show your understanding of religion through the application and teachings of religious beliefs. You will need to be able to make specific reference to sources of wisdom and authority including scripture and sacred texts. You will also study religious, philosophical and ethical arguments related to issues raised and their impact and influence on the modern world. You must be able to explain contrasting beliefs on the following issues with reference to the main religious tradition in Britain
(Christianity) and non-religious beliefs such as atheism and humanism.

You will study four themes from the perspective of Christianity and Islam: Theme A (Relationships and Families) which looks at sexual relationships, marriage and divorce, as well as families and gender equality; Theme B (Religion and Life) which looks at the origins and value of the universe, human life, and environmental ethics; Theme D (Religion, Peace and Conflict) which looks at reasons for war, violent protest and terrorism, religious war and pacifism; Theme E (Religion, Crime and Punishment) which looks at the causes of crime, theories of punishment, forgiveness, and the death penalty.

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What skills do I need?

Some previous knowledge will be extremely useful although none is strictly necessary. Students must be prepared to discuss issues intelligently with respect, and it is necessary to have a genuine interest in religious matters. A good standard of literacy is vital.

How is the course assessed?

There are two papers, one for each component. Each paper lasts 1 hour 45 minutes and is worth 50% of the GCSE. There is no coursework.


AQA Religious Studies A – Islam
By M. Flemming, P. Smith, D.Worden
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0-19-837034-5

AQA Religious Studies A – Christianity
By M. Flemming, P. Smith, D.Worden
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0-19-837033-8

Exam Board and Specification Code

AQA A 8062

Mat Carmody
Head of Department

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