KS5 Religious Studies

The RS A Level course covers three units of the Edexcel specification. These units will be:

Paper 1: Philosophy of Religion                  (Paper code: 9RS0/01)

Paper 2: Religion and Ethics                        (Paper code: 9RS0/02)

Paper 4: Study of Religion (Christianity)    (Paper code: 9RS0/4B)

The assessment comprises of 3x 2hour exams at the end of Y13 which all carry an equal percentage of the qualification and are 80 marks. There will be three sections of questions that range from extended response to essay questions.

Details of this specification can be found here https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a-levels/religious-studies-2016.html

Year 12

Philosophy: Students will study an introduction to some of the most contentious and live issues surrounding the Philosophy of religion in their first year of studying the A level. First they will look at issues raised in Philosophy, including arguments for and against God’s existence. This will give the students understanding of complex ways that philosophers and theologians have aimed to prove God’s existence, but also will load them with skills surrounding reasoning, justification and forming strong proofs. They will move on to the main argument against God’s existence: the problem of evil. An in depth exploration of this topic will centre around the different typed of problems to theists and the ways in which religious people defend their belief and faith (again, through reasoned, philosophical arguments). With the final topic being an in depth look at the famous battle between Bertrand Russell and Frederick Copleston, the students will be convinced in the maxim that words and opinions are worthless without justification. 

Ethics: A comprehensive introduction to ethics will see the year 12 students grapple with some present issues that societies, world leaders and religious groups argue over on a day to day basis. They will begin by learning about three common ethical theories (Utilitarianism, Situation Ethics and Natural Moral Law). This will then be the foundations for the ethical issues that follow. These are:  

  • War and Peace, where a thorough analysis of the different types of warfare are studied. This runs alongside the reasons for wars as well as an in depth focus on Thomas Aquinas’s ‘Just war Theory’ which includes an evaluation into whether any war can be justified.
  • Sexual Ethics focuses on the challenges and issues that surround human relationships and explores how religious and secular scholars respond to issues surrounding marriage, divorce and sexual issues.
  • Medical Issues is split into beginning and end of life. The beginning of life focus is on debates about the embryo and procedures that link to this. End of life is focused on assisted dying, Euthanasia and palliative care.  

Religion: The content of this paper comprises a focus and in depth study of the Christian religion. The study provides a foundation for understanding the key beliefs and values of a religion, recognizing that ‘belief’ itself does not necessarily have the same role and emphasis in religions or between religions. The study helps students explore how believers attribute authority both to key people in the religious community and to various kinds of traditional, sacred texts. The study also explored various and diverse ways in which religious believers express their sense of identity through, for example, their most sacred rituals and their codes of behaviour.

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Philosophical Issues

Ethical Theories

Religious beliefs and values

Problem of Evil

War and Peace

Sexual Ethics

Social and Historical developments in Christianity

Works of Scholars

Medical Ethics

End of Life ethics

Practices that shape and express religious identity

Year 13

Philosophy: Like year 12, the topics have a similar aim which is for the students to gain skills in reasoning and in studying the work of famous scholars. These topics are more suited to the mature sixth form student and provide a real challenge when uncovering the contentious debates surrounding Religious Exprerience, Religious Language and Life after Death.

Ethics: Within the Y13 ethics topics, there is a mix between ethical theory (Aristotle’s Virtue ethics and Kant’s Deontology) and ethical issues like the environment and the debate as to whether our language can be seen to promote morality or not. 

Religion: To add to the Y12 study, students will look at the relationship between religion and society, including issues surrounding equality and pluralism and diversity.

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Religious Experience

Environmental issues

Equality and Pluralism

Religious Language

Deontology and Virtue theory

Sources of Wisdom 

Work of Scholars in Religion

Life after death

Ethical Language

Revision period

Homework: A variety of activities are set in RS. Such as, reflections, research, past essay questions and revision.

Other Useful Information

5 ways I can help my child


Talk to your child about what they have been studying in school. Share your thoughts on concepts that your child has discussed at school.


Debate topical issues, demonstrating a balanced argument.


Watch the news and read news articles with your child asking them questions that check they have understood the report and ask them to give their opinions.
4 Encourage them to read around the subject.


Talk to them about their progress and attainment.