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What are we studying?
This is an exciting opportunity to study the effect of belief on peoples’ lives. It gives students the chance to get to grips with philosophical questions such as ‘is there a God?’ and ‘what happens when I die?’ and to debate the rights and wrongs of many social issues such as abortion, capital punishment, genetic engineering and mercy killing. Students will study the beliefs, teachings and practices of both Christianity and Islam and in doing so will gain a real understanding of the motivation behind these two religions. The course encourages a dialogue between religions and non-religious beliefs and attitudes, and encourages the students to share their own views about all that is studied.
Students follow the AQA Religious studies GCSE course. One part of the course concentrates on the understanding of the two religions of Christianity and Islam. The other part of the course studies religious, philosophical and ethical issues. There are links made between both sides of the course throughout.
How are we assessed?
The GCSE course is examined at the end of Year 11 with two exams, each 1 hour and 45 minutes and each worth 96 mark (plus 5 for spelling, punctuation and grammar).
Exam Paper 1:
Question 1: Christianity: beliefs and teachings (including beliefs about God, life after death, judgement, good and evil).
Question 2: Christianity: practices (including Easter, places of pilgrimage, persecution and the work of charities).
Question 3: Islam: beliefs and teachings (including Angels, the difference between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims and predestination).
Question 4: Islam: practices (including the Five Pillars, jihad, prayer and festivals).
Exam Paper 2:
Question 1: Religion and Life (including the ethics surrounding the use and abuse of animals, euthanasia, abortion and the relationship between scientific and religious ideas about the universe and humanity).
Question 2: Religion, peace and conflict (including the ethics surrounding war, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, justice and the use of violence).
Question 3: Religion, crime and punishment (including the ethics surrounding the use of capital punishment, corporal punishment, forgiveness, reasons for crime and the aims of punishment).
Question 4: Religion, human rights and social justice (including issues surrounding prejudice and discrimination, the status of women, the use of wealth, the motivation behind and the impact of charities and other issues surrounding human rights)
Each topic is assessed using the same format which enables students to really get to grips with what the examiners are looking for. Each question is subdivided into 5 parts:
Part 1 – 1 mark
Part 2 – 2 marks
Part 3 – 4 marks
Part 4 – 5 marks
Part 5 – 12 marks
The total marks for each question is therefore 24, with 12 of the marks being allocated for knowledge and understanding (parts 1-4), and 12 of the marks allocated for analysis and evaluation (for part 5).
Students will practice these types of questions throughout the 2 year course, receiving feedback on how to improve and how to manage their time as effectively as possible. This will enable students to gain in confidence in approaching these questions, and will enable progression in their skills.
How are we grouped?
Students are placed in mixed ability sets based on their option block choices.
What homework are we expected to do?
Home learning will be set once a week. It may involve research or completion of a task started in a lesson. It may not necessarily involve writing as it may be that students need to watch a relevant section of the news or a documentary. It may be that the homework is more creative inspired by the issues or questions raised in the lessons. It may be practising an exam style question or just writing notes on a particular topic or issue. It may be revision for an end of topic GCSE practice question.
What can parents do to help?
Encourage your child to have an open mind and to discuss what they have learnt each week. Engage them in conversations about religion and ethical issues when related items appear on the news or in television programmes or films.
Useful resources and equipment
All students should have the following in all RE lessons: a black pen, a green pen, pencil, ruler and rubber. Pupils will also find it useful to have coloured pencils and highlighter pens in some lessons.
The main BBC website and the BBC Bitesize pages have useful resources about many of the topics that we cover.