Religious Studies at Forest School

Head of Department: Ms R Mackie

Ever since humankind started to think, Religion has been a fundamental part of our development. As people look into the vastness of space or witness the miracle of birth, they contemplate the meaning of life and their own mortality.

In the 21st Century, Religion still addresses the same eternal human questions about life and death, values and relationships, right and wrong. Religious Studies is the rigorous and scholarly exploration of these pertinent and fascinating questions, drawing upon the disciplines of History, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, English and Law along the way. Plus, it makes you a really interesting dinner party guest.

Our rich learning opportunities can include: 

  • A level lectures from renowned Philosophers and Theologians such as AC Grayling, William Lane Craig and Rowan Williams
  • GCSE RS trip to visit St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Buddhist Centre
  • Opportunities to explore new topics and develop your debating skills at Philosophy Society (A level) and Socratic Dialogue Society (KS3 and GCSE)

GCSE and A-level Overview

The AQA GCSE in Religious Studies qualification enables students to:

  • Identify similarities and differences between how Christians and Buddhists interpret the main teachings of their respective religions
  • Develop your knowledge of different ways in which Christianity and Buddhism are practised
  • Appreciate how the beliefs of Christians and Buddhists influence their behaviour
  • Apply different religious and non-religious teachings to ethical issues
  • Identify contrasting positions on ethical issues and the arguments supporting them
  • Develop your ability to formulate balanced, yet persuasive, arguments Religious Studies

The Edexcel A Level in Religious Studies qualification enables students to:

  • Understand the causes, meanings and significance of similarities and differences in religious thought, belief and practice within religion
  • Understand how religious texts and/or other relevant sources of wisdom and authority are interpreted and applied to different issues
  • Develop critical awareness of questions, issues and arguments posed by scholars from within and outside religious traditions
  • Understand how religious thought, belief and practice are expressed in the lives of individuals, communities and societies
  • Analyse how social, religious and historical factors have influenced developments in the study of religions and beliefs
  • Develop your ability to formulate balanced, yet persuasive, arguments

Assessment at GCSE and A-level


  • Paper 1: Study of Religion – Christianity and Buddhism – Written examination (1 hour 45 minutes) – 50% of total mark GCSE Religious Studies.
  • Paper 2: Thematic Studies – Relationships and Family; Religion and Life; Religion, Crime and Punishment; Religion, Human Rights and Social Justice; Religion, Peace and Conflict – 50% of total mark

A Level:

  • Paper 1: Philosophy of Religion – Written examination (2 hours) – 33% of total mark A Level Religious Studies.
  • Paper 2: Religion and Ethics – Written examination (2 hours) – 33% of total mark A Level Religious Studies.
  • Paper 3: New Testament Studies – Written examination (2 hours) – 33% of total mark

How can Religious studies change the world?

People will go to war, fight to end slavery, commit atrocities, move halfway across the world, sacrifice all they have, and even die for religious belief. What is it about faith and belief in God that provokes such monumental change in individuals, organisations and entire nations?

When we study and understand Religion, we better understand the story of the human condition. We better understand human history, and the future of where humanity is going. Studying RS gives us insight into some of the biggest drivers and forces behind global change and human behaviour. It makes us open-minded, critical-minded, and philosophically-minded individuals. Studying Religious Studies will force you to interrogate your morals and ethical beliefs about big issues in society, like abortion or animal rights. It pushes you to address some of life’s most scary existential and fascinating questions. It teaches you how to argue intelligently, logically, and insightfully.