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Key Stage 4

AQA (specification A) Religious Studies GCSE 

Interest in religion and the effect it has upon our culture is one of the fastest growing subjects. The GCSE course in Religious Studies reflects the changing role and importance of religion in today’s society including Ethics and Philosophy in the Modern World.

The course addresses issues primarily in Christianity and Islam but also allows for other religious beliefs to be studied. It allows students to reflect upon their own views and gives them opportunities to personally respond to the topics studied.

The two year course, taught over two periods a week, covers a range of issues including:

  • the problem of evil for religious believers; the questions the existence of evil raise about God’s creation and power
  • differing responses to situations when abortion is advocated
  • religious attitudes towards sex, marriage and divorce including responses to parental involvement and race in the choice of marriage partner
  • religious attitudes towards drugs and the debate about the classification and legal status of different drugs
  • different responses to war including reasons for pacifism and ways in which a ‘just war’ and ‘holy war’ have been justified
  • attitudes towards crime and punishment including the debate on capital punishment
  • issues in medical ethics, such as the debates about fertility treatment, cloning, transplant surgery and genetic engineering

                   …..and much, much more!

Religious Studies at GCSE is suitable for anyone who has an interest in the issues and debates that affect people’s lives today. You do not have to become a vicar or a priest! You do, though, need an open mind and an ability to see all sides of an argument. 

Topics Covered per Half Term 

Term  Year 10
Autumn 1 

Key Beliefs and Teachings in Christianity – component 1

(The nature of God; Different Christian beliefs about creation; Different Christian beliefs about the afterlife; Jesus Christ and salvation).

Autumn 2

Key Beliefs and Teaching in Islam - component 1

(The six articles of faith; The Oneness of God; The nature of God; Angels; Predestination; Life after death (Akhirah); Prophethood (Risalah); The Holy Books).

Spring 1 

Crime and punishment - component 2 E

Religion, Crime and Punishment (Corporal Punishment; The Death Penalty; Forgiveness).

Spring 2

Religion and Life - component 2 B

Religon and Life (Abortion; Euthanasia; Animal Experimentation).

Summer 1 

Christian Practices (Worship and Festivals) - component 1

(Different forms of worship and their significance; The role and meaning of the sacraments; The role and importance of pilgrimage and celebrations; The role of the church in the local and worldwide community).

Summer 2 

Christian Practices (Worship and Festivals) – component 1

Different forms of worship and their significance; The role and meaning of the sacraments; The role and importance of pilgrimage and celebrations; The role of the church in the local and worldwide community).

Revision of all of year ten topics

Topics Covered per Half Term 


Year 11

Autumn 1

Religion and animal rights

  • Religious beliefs about the status of animals; 
  • The extent to which animals are different from humans and their relative value;
  • Religious views on animal rights and the means of protecting those rights;
  • Religious responses to the preservation of species from extinction;
  • The contemporary use and abuse of animals including:

companionship, e.g. pets, guide dogs, animals in sport, transport and work, animal experiments, farming of animals (including free range and factory farming), zoos, hunting, bull fighting, the fur and ivory trade, genetic modification and cloning of animals, treatment of wildlife;

  • Issues concerning the slaughter of animals, meat, vegetarian and vegan diets.

Autumn 2

Religion and early life

Within this topic pupils should be familiar with the key teachings from the religion(s) studied and should be aware of how religious leaders and other faith members have interpreted these teachings and applied them to life in society today.

  • The concept of the sanctity of life in relation to its preservation;
  • Children being seen as a blessing and gift and the miracle of life;
  • The issues surrounding when life begins, including at conception, development of backbone, when heart starts beating, at viability, when the baby is born;
  • The issues concerning the quality of life, including severe handicaps, unwanted children, poverty and suffering;
  • Reasons used by religious believers for and against abortion;
  • The Law and abortion, including the 1967 and 1990 Acts;
  • The rights of those involved, e.g. mother, father and unborn child;
  • Alternatives to abortion, e.g. keeping the child; adoption and fostering;
  • Pro-Life and Pro-Choice arguments and pressure groups.

Spring 1

Religion and war and peace

  • The concepts of peace and justice and the sanctity of life in relation to war and peace;
  • The causes of war;
  • Conflict, including examples of recent wars;
  • The reasons why religious believers might go to war, including the criteria for ‘Just War’ and ‘Holy War’;
  • Religious believers and pacifism;
  • Victims of war, including refugees, those maimed;
  • Organisations which help victims of war, e.g. The Red Cross, The Red Crescent;
  • The work of a religious believer who has worked for peace;
  • Peacekeeping forces, e.g. United Nations, NATO;
  • Issues such as terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and nuclear proliferation;
  • Arguments for and against nuclear weapons, including proliferation;
  • Religious beliefs and teachings and modern statements about war and peace.

Spring 2

Religion and prejudice

  • Types of prejudice, including religion, race, colour, gender, age, disability, class, lifestyle, looks;
  • The causes and origins of prejudice, including ignorance, stereotyping, scapegoating, influence of parents or media, victims of prejudice, experience;
  • Concepts of tolerance, justice, harmony and the value of the individual;
  • Religious attitudes to prejudice and discrimination;
  • Effects of prejudice and discrimination (including the idea of positive discrimination);
  • Religious responses to prejudice and discrimination by individuals, groups, society and the law;
  • Religious believers who have fought against prejudice, e.g. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu.

Summer 1

Revision of all of year 11 topics and year 10 topics

Summer 2

Revision and final Exam