Philosophy, Religion and Ethics
We help students understand that religion has been, and still is, a significant factor in human experience and behaviour, by studying contemporary ethical issues alongside religious teachings from the world’s six largest faiths. Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (PRE) continues to make an enormous contribution to the new emphasis on British Values, a government initiative. PRE has always been a curriculum area where values are explored in depth so questions about how these values relate to different religions, and how they relate to our national life, are not new.
The scope for cross curricular study stimulated by PRE is huge and we exploit this fully at Kimbolton School.
Head of Religious Studies
First to Third Forms – compulsory for all pupils
Fourth and Fifth Forms – optional GCSE subject
Sixth Form - A Level optional subject: Philosophy, Religion and Ethics
We follow the OCR Religious Studies course: H573/01 Philosophy of Religion; H573/02 Religion and Ethics; H573/03 Development in Christian thought.
PRE explores what people are finding exciting and provocative in society, looking at what they are prepared to live and die for. This course is designed to foster a greater understanding of religious thought and its contribution to societies alongside the disciplines of philosophy and ethics. Students will develop their skills of critical analysis leading to the construction of informed, balanced arguments whilst responding to religious, philosophical and ethical concepts. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their own values and opinions, in order to extend their studies outside the course to the wider world; these skills are readily transferable to other subjects making this A level an ideal preparation for a wide range of degrees leading to careers in law, medicine, research and business.
All people have opinions, prejudices and ideas but they are not always ‘joined up’ together; philosophy seeks to do just that. Ethical theories help people to decide what is the right course of action and applied ethics looks at how the theories underpin moral decision-making. Studying one of the world’s main religious belief systems enables people to explore the various responses to significant social and historical developments.
Course content in brief:
Philosophy of religion
Students will study significant concepts through the works of great thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Aquinas, Paley and Hume. Topics include arguments for and against the existence of God, philosophical language and the metaphysics of consciousness. This section moves on to Wittgenstein’s views on language games and forms of life, considering different approaches to the interpretation of texts.
Students will study ethical theories which examine a religious approach to moral decision-making, from Aquinas’ natural law to CS Lewis’ The Four Loves. Students will also study Fletcher’s situation ethics and some of Kant’s normative theories. The section on applied ethics includes issues such as sanctity of life (abortion, euthanasia), social, business and sexual ethics.
Religion – development in Christian thought
In addition to the key beliefs within Christianity, students will study pluralism in this age of migration and multi-cultural societies, encouraging thinking about salvation, tolerance and recognition of opposing views. The changing roles of men and women and the challenges of the feminist approaches to theology include the opportunity to compare the work of two key scholars. Finally, this section explores the challenges thrown up by the increasing secularism in contemporary society.
There are 3x 2 hour papers: Philosophy, Ethics and Religion, each one worth 33.3% of the total.
There are plenty of set books listed on the full OCR website for this course if students wish to dip into some of the texts, plus details of the separate modules for study. For some summer reading, to have a taste of what is to come, students might want to look at The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten by Julian Baggini and Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy by Simon Blackburn.
7th Period Super-Curriculum: This initiative allows for the enrichment of students using academic extension activities. As ethical ideas and practices are constantly changing in contemporary society, the reason this subject is so exciting and engaging, students will investigate how the organisation Theos Think Tank enriches the conversation about the role of faith in society. This organisation, based in the UK, exists to undertake research, sometimes on behalf of a government, and provides a commentary on social, religious and political trends, regularly producing academic papers alongside offering engaging speakers and conferences.
All PRE students are encouraged to go to the after-school Philosophy Society meetings.
Regular Trips, Visitors and Competitions
- PRE pupils study aspects of worship in Peterborough Cathedral as part of the joint Humanities’ trip to Peterborough in the First Form.
- Second Form pupils visit Cadbury World (in a joint trip with the Geography Department) to study the practical applications of Quaker philosophy.