religion, philosophy and ethics

As a department we aim to enable students to think clearly, honestly and accurately in the field of experience often referred to as religion and belief, and to promote understanding and tolerance among peoples of a variety of faiths and those who have none. The Department aims to:

  • Encourage students to develop the skills required for rigorous thought and critical analysis
  • Encourage students to recognise that religion forms a fundamental part of human experience and is, therefore, an essential part of a pupil's education
  • Enable each students to develop a deeper understanding of themselves as well as an empathy with, and tolerance of, others
  • Help each pupil to understand the demands and consequences of accepting a religious faith
  • Allow the pupils the opportunity to encounter ideas and beliefs different to their own
  • Enable the pupil to be critically aware of the religious, spiritual and moral dimensions of human experience
  • Create an environment where the pupil is able to communicate their own ideas
  • Strive to create an atmosphere of enjoyment and understanding
  • Appreciate the positive contribution that faiths are making to many ethical issues of global significance, including ecology and medical ethics
  • Allow each pupil to become more aware of contemporary issues in society, such as the developing world, prejudice, crime and punishment, sexuality and the religious responses to these issues
  • Develop a philosophical approach to existence, recognising the value of challenging ideas and raising questions


We aim to pursue academic rigour while instilling a love of learning and fascination with the variety of belief and non-belief in all our students. We believe that Religion, Philosophy and Ethics is an essential part of all students' education because:

  • It seeks to ask the fundamental questions of life which impact upon humanity
  • It prepares students to develop their own beliefs and values
  • It exposes students to the ideas of the greatest thinkers our world has known and encourages a critical view of them
  • It promotes a respectful and critical tolerance of our differences
  • It develops invaluable transferable skills which are demanded for many professions and are necessary for many areas of life
  • It provides students with the tools to begin to understand the profound influence religion has had, and continues to have, on our history and culture

The Department makes effective use of a wide range of resources and is keen to use innovative teaching techniques to help to communicate complex ideas. We emphasise the importance of developing a broad knowledge of the history of ideas and religion which has wide reaching significance across the curriculum. Our syllabus offers students a wide range of introductory subjects from Year 7 upwards, each developing new skills and contributing to broad general knowledge. We are proud of our impressive examination results, high uptake in the Sixth Form and the growing interest in Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies at degree. We also have a good record of sending students to Oxbridge to study the subject.


Years 7 - 9 (from 2016-7)

RPE in Year 7 provides a coherent overview of the Christianity and Judaism placing them in the context of their relationship with each other. Students will also build up an understanding of a range of ideas, concepts and skills. Our study of Judaism which includes a brief study of the structure and history of the religion, as well as a consideration of festivals, worship and central beliefs. Students will also consider its links to Christianity as an Abrahamic faith. We move on to look at Christianity; in particular students will study the history of the religion, including an understanding of the many different denominations and the modern structure of Christianity as well as a consideration of the importance of Jesus and his teachings for Christians. Students produce an Easter Newspaper following the events surrounding this Christian festival.

In Year 8 the students are introduced to Islam.  This study will begin with an understanding of the structure of the faith, as well as a consideration of festivals, worship and central beliefs.  We then move on to consider some of the concepts and issues associated with Islam in the modern world, including gender and the theological concept of jihad.  We then mov e on to an Introduction to philosophy with an analysis of some ultimate questions such as 'Does God exist?' and 'Why do we suffer?'. They are encouraged to consider religious and alternative perspectives on these questions. In addition we also begin an investigation into the structure and origin of the Bible as a historical and spiritual text; this is a great introduction to some high level theological studies for the girls. A study of Hinduism includes looking at the stories and practices of Hinduism as well as discovering some of the central tenets of its beliefs. Students will produce a project about the concept of God in Hinduism.

Year 9 serves as an introduction to the work that could be continued further in the GCSE papers in Years 10 and 11. Students are encouraged to further develop their analytical skills and to think critically about established philosophical and ethical concepts and ideas. This is an exciting section which allows the students to study key ideas from some of the world's most renowned philosophers such as, Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Nietszche and Marx. Building upon this philosophical foundation, we look at the Jewish Holocaust of the Second World War and the way in which Jewish thinking has changed in the light of this event. There will be some consideration of Jewish theological responses to the Holocaust. In particular we focus on Hollywood and the Holocaust studying the ways in which the Holocaust has been depicted in a range of films including Schindler's List, Shoah and Life is Beautiful. We then go on to consider the topic Buddhist philosophy;  this is our first journey into eastern philosophy which encourages students to consider questions around the nature of self and personal identity.

YEARS 10 and 11 (from 2015-2016)

Our GCSE syllabus consists of two papers: Religion and Life through a study of Christianity, and Religion and Society through a study of Christianity and Islam. These papers are an exciting exploration of how and why religion has had such a massive impact on our world and behaviour. Students have the unique opportunity to consider and reflect upon how belief has shaped people's position on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and relationships. They will have the chance to get involved in ethical conversations taking place in modern medicine, for example, human rights, war and peace, environmental ethics, crime and punishment and the role of personal conscience in these matters. All these issues amongst many others, are examined, discussed and evaluated in the light of Christian, secular and, in the case of the Society paper, Islamic views.

Religion and Life through a study of Christianity: This unit requires students to study the relationship between religion and life in the UK. There are four sections covering believing in God, matters of life and death, marriage and the family, and religion and community cohesion.

Religion and Society through a study of Christianity and Islam: This unit requires students to study the relationship between religion and society, especially in the UK. There are four sections covering Rights and Responsibilities, Environmental and Medical Issues, Peace and Conflict, and Crime and Punishment.

Assessment: Students are asked to take two examination papers with no coursework component.


Philosophy is an open-ended discipline where we explore the diverse value systems of our society by examining the philosophical and political implications of religious and non-religious beliefs. It teaches students to think clearly and to argue convincingly about deeply interesting questions. It is not simply an academic subject, but addresses the puzzles and questions that arise in everyone's life. It aims to enable students to think rationally, lucidly, independently and critically, to discuss intelligently, and to argue cogently. As important as the questions are, so is the process of learning to answer them. Philosophy is the ultimate 'transferable work skill.'

Course Structure: Linear


  • Perception: what are the immediate objects of perception? (direct realism, indirect realism, Berkeley’s idealism,
  • Definition of knowledge: what is propositional knowledge? (tripartite view)
  • Origin of concepts and nature of knowledge: where do ideas/ concepts and knowledge come from? (concept empiricism, knowledge empiricism)

Philosophy of Religion:

  • Concept of God (paradox of the stone, Euthyphro dilemma)
  • Arguments relating to the existence of God (Ontological, Design, Cosmological Problem of evil)
  • Religious language (logical positivism, cognitivism and non-cognitivism)


  • Ethical theories: how do we decide what it is morally right to do? (Utilitarianism, Kantian deontological ethics, Aristotle’s virtue ethics)
  • Ethical language: what is the status of ethical language? (cognitivism, non-cognitivism)

Philosophy of Mind:

  • The mind-body problem: what is the relationship between the mental and the physical? (dualism, materialism, logical/ analytical behaviourism, mind-brain type identity theory, eliminative materialism)


GCSE - Edexcel

A Level - AQA


  • Residential trip to Rome (Year 10, 11, 12 and 13)
  • Question and answer session with a Rabbi (Year 7)
  • Visit to St Paul's Cathedral (Year 7)
  • Visit to Bevis Marks Synagogue (Year 7)
  • Visit to Jewish Museum (Year 9)
  • A Level Conference
  • Discussion between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Board of Deputies of British Jews (A Level students)

Please see below a link to a YouTube video, produced by Year 9 Students:

"The project formed part of the work we have been doing on Social Injustice, which amongst other things, looks at the role religion plays in fighting against injustice. We look at Marx's critique of religion as "the opium of the masses" and counter this by looking at the Liberation Theology movement in South America. The idea of this mini-project was to get the girls to think of a way of raising awareness in the school of issues surrounding social injustice. They could choose which issue, so we had a variety from gay rights to forced marriage. They could also choose how they wanted to present it - a song, a poster, an "info-mercial" etc."
Evie, Theo and Georgia from Year 9

"RPE is more than just a subject; it’s become a way of life. The skills that we are learning in these fun-filled lessons are helping us get to understand some of the most interesting and challenging questions. We spend our lessons discussing everything from whether the universe has a beginning to whether evil is an illusion and if a war can ever truly be morally justified. RPE is preparing us not just for exams or university but for much more."  Orla and Abby

Head of Department

Mrs K Bullard