Philosophy & Religious Studies

Curriculum Subjects

Philosophy & Religious Studies

See our Philosophy & Religious Studies Curriculum below at Bentley Wood for KS3, KS4 and KS5


KS3 | Philosophy & Religious Studies

Course Aims:

  1. To develop students’ ability to think Philosophically, that is, analytically, evaluatively, and sensitively.
  2. To develop students’ ability to discuss, and argue about, ethical, political, religious and ‘spiritual’ questions in an inquisitive and sensitive manner.
  3. To train students to recognise the similarities and differences between belief-systems.
  4. To train students to recognise the historical and social factors which influence religious ideologies.

Trips and visits:
We offer occasional trips to the National Gallery, and Philosophy Conference trips to Universities for extension purposes, though this is more common at A-level and GCSE.

Co-curricular activities:

  • ‘Young Philosophers’ Club’ for extension and enrichment of the more able.
  • ‘Symposium Debate Club’ to foster students’ public-speaking and argument skills.

Key Stage 4 & 5 / Career Progression:

AQA GCSE in R.S. & Philosophy (R.S. with a good measure of Philosophy to stretch and engage)
A Level Philosophy is offered at Bentley Wood.

Philosophy Graduates go into many fields, such as Politics, International Relations, Law, Journalism, Media, IT, Business, Medicine, Social Work, Science, Literature, Music, Film, and any field where the ability to think well, logically, and ‘outside the box’ is key.  Some examples are below:

    • Politics and Law: Ed Milliband, David Cameron, Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi.
    • Journalism: Jonathan Dimbleby, Henry MacDonald, Mehdi Hasan.
    • Medicine & Social Work Sir Nigel Crisp.
    • Writers: Hanif Kureishi, Iris Murdoch, David Foster Wallace, Jean Paul Sartre, T.S.Eliot.
    • Business/Advertising: George Soros, Charles Handy, Tim Mason, Peter Thiel (co-founder Paypal).
    • Film & Music: Ricky Gervais, Ethan Coen, Harrison Ford, Rick Rubin, Beverley Knight, Bruce Lee, Terence Malick, Lana Del Rey, Susan Sarandon, Richard Gere, Duncan Jones
    • Other: Noam Chomsky, Larry Sanger (co-founder of Wikipedia), Sam Harris, Pope John Paul II, Philip Glass, Stephen Colbert, Stewart Butterfield (co-founder of Flickr).
    • Recommended Reading:‘Sophie’s World’ by Jostein Gaardner, ‘The Complete Philosophy Files’ by Stephen Law, ‘Think’ by Simon Blackburn, ‘Existentialism is a Humanism’ by Jean Paul Sartre.

Year 7 Course Content:

  • Philosophy of Learning: Metacognition
  • Ethics
  • Ancient Egyptian Religion/Mythology
  • The Abrahamic Religions:
    • Judaism
    • Christianity
    • Islam

Year 8 Course Content:

  • The ‘If’ Odyssey
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Ancient Greek Religion/Mythology
  • Religions of the Subcontinent:
    • Hinduism
    • Buddhism
    • Sikhism
KS4 | Philosophy & Religious Studies

Examining Board:   AQA – Religious Studies specification A

Component 1: The Study of Religions: Beliefs, Teachings and Practices
Component 2: Thematic Studies Philosophical and Ethical themes

Aims of Course:

  1. Develop an understanding of a number of key Philosophical and Ethical issues that modern society faces
  2. Develop a critical understanding of two contrasting Religions and their views on key issues, as well as learning about “humanistic” non-religious views.
  3. Develop abilities to think, write, and speak, more logically, rationally, and articulately
  4. Promote exploration of, and reflection upon, the human condition.

Course Content

Year 9 7) PHILOSOPHY B:  Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
1) PHILOSOPHY A:  The Big Questions – Introduction to Philosophy 8) Religion, Peace and Conflict:
Justice, war, terrorism – can war ever be justified? X
2) Critical Thinking – An Introduction to Argument
(to Christmas)
Year 11
3) Christianity: Beliefs, Teachings 
(1 termX
9) Christianity Practices:
Forms of worship, pilgrimages, sacraments and places of worship
4) Religion and Life:
Big Bang’ theory, Evolutionary Theory.  The environment and animal rights (1 termX
10) Human Rights and Social Justice: Human rights, equality, gender, sexuality, race, poverty and wealth. X
Year 10 Revisiting of Christianity and Buddhism .
5) Buddhism: Beliefs, Teachings and Practices
(1 term – to Christmas)  X
Revisiting of Religion and LifeExistence of GodPeace and Conflict.
6) The Existence of God and Revelation: Arguments for and against the existence of a God; theories of the afterlife, ghosts! (1 term) X X = GCSE examined module

Method of Assessment:
2 x 1 hour 45-minute examinations taken at the end of Year 11. There is no coursework.

Recommended Reading: 

  • Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
  • Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  • The Big Questions by Simon Blackburn
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel


  •  Mindfulness (Ms. A. Jones)
  •  Eco Club (Ms. Teixeira)
  •  Debate Club (Mr. O’Sullivan)
  • Year 11 trip to Stanmore Church
  • Year 8 trip to British Museum

Key Stage 5 Progression/ Career Prospects:

A Level Philosophy is offered at Bentley Wood (not Religious Studies).  Careers pursued by students of Philosophy are varied and extraordinary. Ex-students of Philosophy include: politicians, musicians and CEOs.

Revision Guide:

  • AQA Religious Studies A Buddhism by Kevin James and Nagapriya. Series editor: Cynthia Bartlett (Oxford)
  • AQA Religious Studies A Christianity by Marianne Fleming, Peter Smith and David Worden. Series editor: Cynthia Bartlett (Oxford)
  • Additional textbook we sometimes use: AQA GCSE Religious Studies Specification A by Lesley Parry, Jan Hayes and Shelia Butler (Hodder Education)
KS5 | Philosophy

Is Philosophy the subject for you?

Philosophy is a subject for those who like asking “why”. In Philosophy we don’t tend to deal with questions that have easy answers. If you feel comfortable questioning your long held assumptions, are a reflective person, and have an imagination, Philosophy may well be the subject for you! The study of Philosophy will provide you with fresh and interesting perspectives on the world around you.

Course content

In the AS year we cover ‘Epistemology’ and ‘Philosophy of Religion’. In the first unit we examine where ideas and knowledge come from. Does knowledge come from Reason (like Maths) or our senses (like Science)? Can we know anything at all? Do we perceive the world as it really is and how does perception work? In ‘Ethics’, the rational study of morality and values, we study theories of morality. We apply these theories to things like stealing, stimulated killing (in computing games and films), and status of animals.

In A2 we study ‘Philosophy of Mind’ and ‘Philosophy of Religion.’ In Philosophy of Mind we examine what consciousness might be. Consciousness is still one of the biggest mysteries of Philosophy and Science. What is the Mind? Is it a non- physical ‘soul’? What is the relationship between mind and brain? Can we create computers that think (Artificial Intelligence)? In the second unit we examine questions which you were introduced to in your GCSE in much more detail. Is there any good reason to believe a God exists? Does morality come from a God’s decisions, or are things good and bad independently of God?

Methods of study

The ability to express oneself in both written and verbal contexts is essential in the study of Philosophy. Dialogue is vital and you will be trained to argue in a constructive, logical manner. Exams are in the form of shorter questions, and longer essays. You will spend a lot of time prior to exams “translating” philosophical ideas and expressing them in your own terms. You will read some of the greatest thinkers of all time, as well as the excellent textbook.

How will it be examined?

AS qualification will count towards the final grade of an A Level (Legacy).

Career opportunities

Philosophy is offered at most Universities and tends to attract smart, imaginative people. It is often combined with another subject, such as English, Psychology, Law, Politics, Science, History and many more. Philosophy doesn’t equip you for just one role in life, but gives you important skills highly prized in many roles. For example, Philosophers are taught to think and reason better, to analyse, to evaluate, and to write and speak articulately. They can think sharply and clearly about issues they confront. It’s like a course in intellectual self-defence! Employers value philosophy students’ ability to think quickly. Philosophy students often find themselves working in sectors as diverse as medicine, law, business, politics, and media.