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Course Summary

Students will study both a range of religions focussing on ethical and philosophical questions. Ultimately the aim is for students to gain a GCSE in Ethics and Philosophy at the end of year 11. RE is a compulsory subject and teaching for this begins in yr 9.

What will students learn?

Year 7
Students will be introduced to philosophical, religious and ethical study using a wide range of enjoyable and interactive tasks. We will explore Big/ Ultimate or Philosophical questions through independent reflection and class debate. We will analyse key questions such as, what is the purpose of life before embarking on a deeper study of two if the main six religions; Christianity and Buddhism. We will reflect on their beliefs, teachings and practices, assessing what it means to be ‘ethical’ and how we all, as human beings, try to make the right decisions when faced with moral dilemmas in life. Students are encouraged to share their own opinions as well as listening to other people’s in a mature and considerate manner.

After an introduction to Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (PRE) we will begin to analyse key elements of two of the world religions. Our first investigations are into the origins of Judaism and Christianity using a range of interactive activities from creating detailed mind-maps to a group decision-making game! Next, we explore key figures in these world religions such as Abraham and Moses and then embark on a study of modern religious practice, including places of worship and methods of celebration. We delve into ethical practices within the world religions to identify what it means to be a ‘good person’ and why humans are obsessed with trying to achieve this goal! We look at key figures such as Jesus and how religion can sometimes act as a guide to being a ‘good person’. We also analyse the non-religious/ Atheist viewpoints to create a collective definition of a ‘good person’. We probe into philosophical study in a quest to ask and answer Big or Ultimate questions. These are unanswerable questions such as; What is the meaning of life? What happened at the beginning of the Universe? Where do you go when you die? We analyse the responses from Atheists and Scientists as well as the aforementioned main world religions.

Year 8

Students will build on knowledge of world religions through a study of the key elements of Hinduism and Islam reflect on their responses to philosophical questions and ethical dilemmas. We will continue to use a range of transferable skills, for example reasoning and problem solving, in order to explore, discuss and write about the topics studied. Students continue to be encouraged to express their own opinion as well as listen to and examine the opinions of others. We will begin to structure our arguments and support them with evidence.

In Year 8 we begin the academic year by examining two more of the main world religions; Hinduism and Islam. We examine the origins and the fundamental of worship. Next we compare and contrast Islam and Hinduism analysing their births ceremonies, weddings, festivals and funerals to name a few. Next we revisit the idea of the impact of religious beliefs on ethics by investigating the topic ‘What are human and animal rights?’ and respond to ethical statements, for example, ‘It is always wrong to go to war’. We analyse religious responses such as the Hindu principle of non-violence (ahimsa) but we also compare the religious views with others as well as a non-faith/ atheist perspective. We also analyse animal rights and how far equality for all living beings can really be achieved. Whilst delving into ethics we discuss the treatment, use and abuse of animals in our world. From ‘meat’ to ‘best mate’ we reflect on religious teachings about animals in our world and discuss our own views towards the status of the animal. Finally, we reflect on the philosophical topic of the problem of evil. If there is a God surely he loves us (humans) enough to stop evil and suffering in our world? This is a challenging unit but forms the basis of a GCSE topic so gives Students a real insight to studying GCSE Philosophy and Ethics.

Year 9
This year embarks on a study of Philosophy and Ethics at GCSE. The intention being to equip Students to be sensitive to religious and spiritual beliefs that may or may not be their own, whilst building on the skills, knowledge and understanding from Year 7 and 8 but lifts the learning further into the world around us, for example, it often mirrors what is being discussed in the news-media.

We begin year 9 with the topic (from GCSE AQA A, Component 2 Thematic Studies) entitled, ‘Relationships and families’. We first analyse how we make decisions towards ethical dilemmas then compare their impact and influence on the modern world. We investigate religious teachings and attitudes about such issues a types of relationships, contraception and family planning as well as marriage, divorce, the role of the men, women and the family and gender equality. Learning will be expanded by a range of research and discussion of issues in the news-media. Next we will complete a second thematic study entitled, ‘Religion and Life’. This topic is thoroughly enjoyed by theorists, agnostics and atheists alike! We want to know how religion and science try to answer the same questions. We look at proof and different interpretations of what it means. We analyse the cosmological revolution and discuss whether religion has been made redundant because of the findings of science. Finally, we focus beliefs and attitudes of the origins of human life, examining such concepts as evolution, sanctity of life and quality of life and the impact of these on contemporary ethical dilemmas, such as euthanasia and the existence.

How will students be assessed?

Teacher assessments will be set every nine weeks. These will be used to assess progress and help determine the end of Key Stage 3 level of achievement. Students may be given time at home to complete elements of the assessments and deadlines must be met. The assessments involve pieces of individual written work or group presentations.

Homework

Students will complete a variety of homework tasks throughout the year using a wide range of skills. Some include researching facts, whilst others may be completing artwork or written tasks. Independent learning projects will present students with the opportunity to complete extended homework tasks. Homework will be relevant to the lessons studied.