Theology and Religious Studies
In one form of religion or another most of what most people on the planet do is
shaped by religion. In other words, to understand most of what goes on in the world
you have to understand religion. You might even want to find out whether any
of it is true . . .
Religious Studies handles issues which every thinking person must confront if they
are to live in the world, and is a profound training in critical analysis and evaluation.
For this reason it is highly regarded in occupations which require appreciation of big
issues, of what motivates people, of right and wrong, and in those where the ability to
investigate, understand and weigh up matters of importance is crucial. So besides the
obvious fields like ministry and teaching, it is valued in the civil service, diplomacy,
the armed forces, many management situations, counselling, and also research and
analysis jobs like research, journalism, intelligence work and the media.
It is a good preparation for degrees such as philosophy, history, international studies,
economics, medicine, media studies, cultural studies, even English and other
languages, and it is a nice complement to natural sciences.
There is a remarkably wide choice in A Level Religious Studies, which covers much
of the material in university Theology and Religious Studies courses.
Each Religious Studies A Level contains two major themes; depending on students’
interests, these will be chosen from
Philosophy of Religion
Modern Theology (feminist theology, fundamentalism, postmodernism, etc.)
Old or New Testament Studies
A World Religion (Buddhism; Islam; Judaism)
and sets are formed according to demand.
If desired, one to one tuition is arranged so that students can take just the module they
are interested in.
Religious Studies A Level is quite a different animal from GCSE. So much so, that it
does not matter at all whether you did Religious Studies for GCSE or not—you can
still do it at A Level.
A Level Religious Studies is about ideas, and there is nothing better than sitting
around discussing interesting ideas. You will learn a lot of things you never knew
before but there is more focus on developing your own opinions about the material,
and arguing them through.
Typically, you consider issues; then learn some big ideas and some analysis of them;
then discuss it in class; then discuss it on paper.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The purpose of the course is to introduce you to important issues and to scholarly
thinking on them, to help you form your own views and test opinions for truth.
The AS and A2 specifications in Religious Studies encourage students to
develop an interest in and enthusiasm for a rigorous study of religion
treat the subject as an academic discipline by developing knowledge and
understanding appropriate to a specialist study of religion
use an enquiring, critical and empathetic approach to the study of religion.
Students should be able to
select and demonstrate clearly relevant knowledge and understanding through
use of evidence, examples and correct language and terminology
(for A2) demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the connections
between different elements in their course of study
sustain a critical line of argument and justify a point of view
(for A2) relate elements in their course of study to their broader context and to
specified aspects of human experience
ACCOMMODATION AND RESOURCES
Religious Studies is mostly taught Room 20.
The Department is building up a library of current textbooks for research, preparation
and general reading.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
The College policy, as set out in the Staff Handbook, is followed.
TEACHING AND LEARNING STYLES AND HOMEWORK
Teaching is based around discussion and debate to develop understanding, analytical
skills and enjoyment, lectures which introduce the student to new material, especially
material not found in the textbooks, and a range of in-class exercises and
Homework involves the preparation of exam type questions, essays, presentations to
the class and revision for quizzes.
RECORD KEEPING AND ASSESSMENT
Students are continually assessed by exam type questions, essays, quizzes and
presentations to the class. Questions are marked to A Level standard from the
beginning and accustom the student to the format and level of the exams. Regularly
recorded marks form a record of progress toward the exam. Essays are designed to
provide part of the preparation for exams and are often reworked with the tutor until a
bank of high quality material is built up.
Internal examinations take place every half term and form part of the students’
half termly reports.
Michael Peat studied physics and mathematics, which he still teaches occasionally.
These were followed by a Dip Theol and a BD from London, teaching at Collingham,
and research in the United States for a doctorate he is still working on. Michael
taught theology and philosophy to undergraduates and postgraduates at Oak Hill
Theological College and Middlesex University for many years. Michael is interested
in everything, but especially whether and how Christianity can be proved; application
of Christian thinking to areas such as government and the philosophy of science;
development of leadership skills; world religions and worldviews.
The three boards have similar structures to their Religious Studies A Levels. The AS
consists of an introductory paper and two specialised papers on topics chosen from a
wide range. The A2 carries on these chosen topics in two papers and has an
additional synoptic paper which draws together strands from the topics studied. In
some cases a coursework essay can be substituted for one of the exam. papers.