Philosophy and Ethics

Curriculum Vision

‘The only thing I know is that I know nothing’
Socrates

We aim to excite, enlighten and challenge in equal measure.  We intend to teach knowledge of religion and philosophy in an engaging manner whilst challenging students to recognise that, in this area, there is often not a single right answer.  Students are encouraged to form opinions on the topics but also to reflect upon alternative views.
Our curriculum conforms to the Derbyshire and Derby City agreed syllabus for religious education 2020-2025 and supports the whole school ambition to ‘ask life’s big questions, to engage with our diverse and complex world with empathy and to help bring about change for the better’.  This creates a curriculum with an array of religious and ethical views infused with modern and relative links.  Importantly, it provides the opportunity to enthusiastically discuss and debate these issues in a safe, yet critical, environment.

Skills and knowledge

In year 7, students learn about the two main religions in the local area: Christianity and Islam.  Students look at the core beliefs within both faiths and discuss whether they believe in God(s) themselves.  In year 8 students are taught about the widely recognised religions of Sikhism and Buddhism but also look at Humanism, a faith built upon the premise of there being no proven God(s).  Finally, in year 9 students are introduced to philosophy and ethics.  Students consider whether they agree with Plato or Descartes’ views on existence or if they ascribe to Kantian or utilitarian ethics.  Students are asked to apply ethical theories to contemporary issues which may change on an annual basis.  Finally, students in this year group study 'families and relationships' which is an unused GCSE topic where students discuss a myriad of issues including marriage, divorce, and homosexuality.

In key stage 4, the philosophy and ethics department offer two AQA GCSE courses:

Religious studies: An exciting course that offers students the opportunity to learn about the contrasting religions of Buddhism and Christianity.  Students will critically analyse these faiths and discuss whether practicing followers reflect the intentions of the respective holy texts.  Additionally, students will spend half the course studying ethics and looking at a wide array of topics including the death penalty, the possession and use of nuclear weapon and mercy killing.

Students do not always understand why the subject of philosophy and ethics is important to them.  It is for this reason why it is paramount that the subject is not taught as ‘religious instruction’ but as a critical investigation into the separate faiths.  In addition to teaching Buddhism as representative of a faith without a god, we also teach Humanism so that students can have the option to align their own beliefs with that of a recognised faith should they want to.

Citizenship: A thoroughly engaging course that encourages students to become active members in society.  Students will study three broad topics: life in modern Britain, rights and responsibilities and politics.  These three units of study include topics relating to the power of the media, the role of international organisations such as the United Nations, how the British court system is structured and how our country is governed.  There is also a campaigning element to the course where students are supported to pick a campaign topic and then encouraged to create a campaign to influence change.  These topics can be international, national, local or school-focused.

Curriculum Content

Years 7-9

In years 7-9 students follow the national curriculum. The Philosophy and Ethics curriculum is based on the Derbyshire Agreed Syllabus for RE, revised 2014.

Year 7 Topics include:
Jesus
Christian holy week
Islam
Year 8

Topics include:
Sikhism
Buddhism (part 1)
Sustainable development

Year 9

Topics include:
What is reality?
Relationships and family
Shoah

Useful websites for Key Stage 3

BBC Religions
BBC Ethics
BBC News
Newsround
RE Quest
Zencast (Buddhism)

GCSE Religious Studies

GCSE Religious Studies is as an option subject in years 10 and 11 and allows students to continue their studies within the philosophy and ethics department. Fundamental issues of our modern society are explored and students further develop the capacity to think critically and develop analytical skills.

Qualification GCSE Religious Studies – Philosophy and Applied Ethics
Board AQA
Syllabus number Syllabus A (8062)
Component 1: the study of religions, beliefs and teachings
Component 2: Thematic Studies
Theme B: Religion & Life
Theme C: Questioning the existence of God (Philosophy)
Theme D: Religion, Peace & Conflict
Theme E: Religion, crime and punishment.
Website link www.aqa.org.uk
Assessment details 100% terminal exam
Further details This curriculum has no coursework requirement. Students sit two x 1 hour 45 minute examinations at the end of Year 11.
Recommended textbook and revision guides

For sale at school (and Amazon)
AQA GCSE Religious Studies A: Christianity and Buddhism Revision Guide
(978-0198422853)

For sale on Amazon
Religious Studies A (Christianity) Marianne Fleming, Peter Smith & David Worden
(ISBN 978 – 0 – 19 – 837033 - 8)
Religious Studies A (Buddhism) Kevin James, Nagapriya
(ISBN 978 – 0 – 19 – 837032 - 1)

Useful websites for Years 10 and 11

BBC Religions
BBC Ethics
Zencast (Buddhism)
More 4 (for selected documentaries)
The Big Question (BBC)
Thought for the Day (Radio 4)
Beyond Belief (Radio 4)
TrueTube (short films on GCSE topics)


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