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Notre Dame High School

Notre Dame
High School

Religious Studies

What is Religious Studies?

A GCSE in Religious Studies gives candidates the opportunity to explore the moral, social and religious dimensions of their own lives and the lives of others. The course, whilst respectful of all points of view, offers a clear study of Catholic Christianity and Judaism, as a second religion, studied in Paper 2.

The course studies Christian and Jewish beliefs and teachings and how these are expressed in lifestyle, worship and organisation. We also study a variety of moral issues and religious and nonreligious responses to them, opening opportunity for students to engage in philosophical and ethical thinking and to formulate and share their own opinions.

“My experience of GCSE RS has opened my eyes to the in-depth topics of Christianity and Judaism. In year 10, I found it interesting learning about sources of wisdom and authority in Christianity. 
Moreover, it helped me learn about the different ways of personal and ethical decision making
which can surely help in the future ahead.”

How is the subject taught?

Religious Studies is taught in mixed ability groups. Pupils are expected to be active and engaged in their learning and are encouraged to participate in discussion and debate. As a literacy-based subject, focus is placed on developing coherent written work, with the inclusion of rich vocabulary and personal appraisal.

 “Judaism was a topic that stood out for me as I didn't know much about the religion beforehand.
I enjoyed learning about their various practices and their beliefs and teachings as part of morals.”

Curriculum 

The course is designed to help all students to:

  • Develop a wider awareness of religious and moral beliefs and practices
  • Explore faith
  • Understand the importance of being a responsible citizen in a multi-ethnic and multi-faith society
  • Develop confidence and be self-regulated in their studies
  • Gain a GCSE in Religious Studies
  Year 10 Year 11
Aut.1 GCSE retrieval  of 
Paper 1: Section 1 from Year 9 Summer Term
GCSE Paper 1: Section 2 Practices
RS GCSE Paper 2: Section 2 Judaism
Practices
Aut.2 RS GCSE Paper 1: Section 3
Sources of Wisdom and Authority
RS GCSE Paper 2: Section 2 Judaism
Practices
Spr.1 RS GCSE Paper 1: Section 4
Forms of Expression and Ways of Life
RS GCSE Paper 3:
Philosophy and Ethics Section 1
Arguments for the existence of God
Spr.2 RS GCSE Paper 2: Judaism
An Introduction to key concepts, Tier 3 vocabulary and sources of wisdom and authority
RS GCSE paper 3:
Philosophy and Ethics Section 2
Religious teachings on relationships and families in 21st century
Sum.1 RS GCSE Paper 2: Section 1: Judaism
Beliefs and Teachings
Retrieval and revision: Papers 1, 2 and 3
Sum.2 RS GCSE Paper 2: Section 1 Judaism
Beliefs and Teachings
Exam Season: Retrieval and revision: Papers 1, 2 and 3

How is the subject assessed?

Religious Studies is assessed by three papers which are taken at the end of Year 11 

Paper 1: Study of Catholic Christianity (1 hour 45minutes).

Paper 2: Study of Judaism (50 minutes).

Paper 3: Philosophy & Ethics based on Catholic Christianity (50 minutes).

“GCSE RS complements subjects such as geography and history which helps with the understanding when it comes to further revision and studying. Overall, my experience with GCSE RS has been intriguing and gratifying and as a Catholic, I can implement my knowledge of Christianity.”

Career Pathways 

The A Level course in Religious Studies: Philosophy, Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought, is offered to students with sufficiently high GCSE grades. It provides an excellent preparation for careers in law, medicine, teaching, social work, politics, management, personnel work, journalism and various ministries within the Church.

Students who study Philosophy and Ethics A Level often combine this subject with History, English, Psychology or Sociology.

For more information click on our A Level Philosophy and Ethics course.

For advice on apprenticeship courses, click here.

Career Options

You can watch a great series of videos of young people who are working in jobs that use Religious Studies on the BBC Bitesize website.

For examples of careers leading from this subject, click here.

GCSE RS FAQs 

Why is RS a compulsory GCSE?

Notre Dame is a school founded on Christ being at the heart of all our subjects.

We complete the Edexcel RS GCSE Catholic Paper to provide us all with the opportunity to explore Catholic beliefs and practices and to consider where our own faith fits within the religion. As a faith school, we believe that it is our duty to enable all students to learn about the beliefs and practices of Catholicism and to provide a place for deeper understanding and growth in personal faith. The GCSE course also covers the study of Judaism and Philosophy and Ethics, enabling students to gain a wider understanding of the world around them.

Is it okay not to be a Catholic or to be an atheist or agnostic in RS lessons at Notre Dame?

Notre Dame is a diverse school with students from Catholic, non-Catholic Christian denominations, other world religions and of no religious belief. All students and staff are cared for and valued equally. In studying RE GCSE there is opportunity for students to explore and share their own beliefs and views, whether religious or not, in a forum that is respectful of others. The course requires you to look at religious and ethical issues from a range of religious and non-religious perspectives and to be able to appraise and engage with the material.

What A-Level subjects does RS GCSE complement in content?

The wonderful thing about studying RE is that you soon realise how much it overlaps with other subjects. In addition to A level Religious Studies, as an essay-based subject, RE complements subjects such as History and English. In Year 11, the RE GCSE course covers aspects of philosophy, ethics and sociology and is therefore beneficial as a foundation to these A-Level subjects.

What jobs can the study of Religious Studies lead to?

As a social subject, RS explores how people live and how faith affects their everyday lives. Being conscious and respectful of diversity is the bedrock of a multi-cultural and multi-faith society and the essential starting point of all employment. Students who go on to study religious studies at degree level may pursue professional and graduate programs, and eventually careers in various areas including education, journalism, sociology, law, social work, the charity sector, and medicine.