AS / A2 Specification

Religious Studies AS Level Specification

Preferred Previous Studies

Students should have achieved at least grade B in Religious Studies, English Language and Literature as well as grade B in at least one other subject that requires extended writing.  Students who have not been able to study RS at GCSE level might find it possible to take the subject if they can show a high level of achievement in their other GCSE subjects.

Course Content

Year 1 content has three units.

Unit 1: Philosophy of Religion

· The influence of Greek philosophers on our own thinking: a study of the work of Plato and Aristotle.

· Arguments for the existence of God based on observation and reason: Teleological, Cosmological and Ontological arguments.

· The problem of evil and the challenges it presents for God’s existence.

· A study into the nature of religious experience.

Unit 2: Religious Ethics

· In introduction to ethical language and thinking, including Deontology and Teleology.

· An introduction to normative ethical theories including the religious approaches of Natural Law, Kantian ethics, Utilitarianism and Situation ethics.

· The application of ethical theory, including religious ethical perspectives, to issues of importance (including euthanasia and business)

Unit 3: Development of Christian thought

· Insight: Beliefs, teachings and ideas about human life, the world and ultimate reality.

o A study of Augustine’s teaching on human nature

o A study into ideas about death and the afterlife.

· Foundations: the origins and development of Christianity and the sources of wisdom on which it is based.

o Can God be known through reason or faith alone? Revelation, the human condition and a focus on the works of Calvin.

o The person of Jesus as a source of authority

· Living: The diversity of ethics and practice

o Christian moral principles

o Christian moral action: a special study on the life and teaching and example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Year 2 has three units

Unit 1: Philosophy of Religion

· The nature and attributes of God with a focus on understanding the concept of omnipotence, omniscience and eternity and how these relate to human freedom and the idea of punishment for sin; includes a particular focus on Boethius, Anselm and Swinburne

· Religious Language: Negative, Analogical or Symbolic: the use of symbol, myth and analogy with reference to Aquinas and Tillich.

· Twentieth century perspectives on religious language with special focus on Logical Positivism, A.J. Ayer, Wittgenstein, Flew and R.M. Hare

Unit 2: Religion and Ethics

· The study of meta-ethical theories such as naturalism, intuitionism and emotivism. How ethical language in the modern era has changed over time; includes the works of G.E. Moore, Hume, A.J. Ayer.

· The nature and role of human conscience in decision making – a comparison of Aquinas’ theological approach to Freud’s psychological approach. A study of the concept of guilt.

· Application of ethical theory to issues surrounding sex and sexuality. A consideration of how secularism has had an impact on areas of sexual ethics.

Unit 3: Developments in Christian thought

· Development: Religious pluralism and theology / society.

o A study of inclusivism, exclusivism and pluralism, inter-faith dialogue and the development of multi-faith societies.

· Society: A study of gender and theology / society

o The effects of changing views of gender and gender roles on Christian thought and practice.

o Feminist theology with a focus on the works of Rosemary Radford Reuther and Mary Daly.

· Challenges: The rise of secularism and secularization.

o  A study of the views of Freud, Dawkins and Humanism.

o Liberation Theology and the teachings of Marx regarding alienation, exploitation and liberation.


Religious Studies is for those who enjoy learning and who are interested in exploring and challenging ideas.  Lessons in Religious Studies are varied and include active learning, discussion, group work, independent work, reading and essay writing. The study of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics helps students to think logically and clearly about issues that affect the whole of life. This course is excellent preparation for many degree courses including Politics, History, English, Computer Science, Law and Philosophy. It gives a firm grounding in many issues required for studying Medicine, Humanities and Law. People with an A-Level in Religious Studies go on to a wide range of careers from Legal, Social and Welfare positions to Education and even Zoologists!