Religious Studies & Sociology

Great results with 100% A*-C grades at GCSE and A Level.

A popular option choice for pupils going on to careers in medicine or nursing.

Eye-opening annual trip to the Holocaust Centre in Year 9.

Subject specialist teachers making lessons interesting and relevant.

Understanding, compassion and a strong moral compass.

Lincoln Minster Senior School Pupils

Key Stage 3

Throughout Key Stage 3 the aim of the syllabus at Lincoln Minster School is to enable pupils to acquire the skills of religious knowledge, understanding and evaluation.

Pupils should know the beliefs, practices and attitudes of Christianity and other major world religions. The Key Stage 3 syllabus assists pupils in acquiring skills of analysis and insight related to the components of the syllabus. This is a subjective procedure involving pupils’ own attitudes, beliefs and practices.

The four concepts, which are present in the syllabus, are:

  •  Authority
  • Celebration
  • Religious Belief and Lifestyle
  • The Sacred

These constitute the framework for the study of Christianity and of other religions. As a Church School, more emphasis is afforded to Christianity, but it is important that non-Christian Religions and traditions are studied with respect and understanding.

Topics studied include:

  • Signs and Symbols of religion
  • Belonging to a community
  • Key Figures
  • Rites of Passage
  • Pilgrimage
  • What do people find sacred?
  • Belief in the divine
  • Ultimate Questions

Spiritual and moral development

Pupils need the opportunity to learn, respond and reflect on various issues under this heading. It is appreciated that Religious Studies is not the only transmitter of these values, but it clearly has a major part to play. Pupils need to be guided in these areas and skills of listening; respecting, discussing and reconsidering are encouraged.

Social and cultural development

Religious Studies contributes to this area examining issues of multi-culturalism, minorities, human rights and responsibilities. Religious Studies at Lincoln Minster School aims to broaden significantly the outlooks of the pupils and encourage thought at greater depth. Consequently during Key Stage 3 pupils are introduced to distinctive historical, artistic and cultural achievements of Faiths through visits, videos and speakers. In Year 9 for example, all students visit Beth Shalom, the Holocaust Centre near Newark where they also get the opportunity to listen to the story of a survivor of the Holocaust.

GCSE

The GCSE Course offered by the religious studies department is designed to build upon and develop some of the key skills and issues looked at in the latter part of your KS3 studies.

It is intended to be relevant to life in the modern world, raising issues that are part of our everyday existence such as War and Peace, Medical Ethics, the Environment in which we live and Issues of Justice and Inequality just to mention a few.

This specification is intended to be accessible to students of any religious persuasion or none and provides a broad structure for the study of the beliefs and practices of a living religion or religions, with emphasis on the educational basis of the study.

Religious Studies is about world issues that affect us all. Sooner or later everyone has to face up to the big questions of values and priorities and the meaning and purpose of our existence. Many people only begin to think about these issues when a crisis arises in their lives.

Religious Studies allows students to develop a coherent view of life, a sense of value and purpose, and either secure a faith of their own or a sympathetic awareness of the faith of others.

The syllabus we study at LMS, provides an opportunity for students to:

  • acquire knowledge and develop understanding of the beliefs, values and traditions of one or more religions;
  • consider the influence of the beliefs, values and traditions associated with one or more religions;
  • consider religious and other responses to moral issues;
  • identify, investigate and respond to fundamental questions of life raised by religious and human experience, including questions about the meaning and purpose of life;

Component 1: Religious, Philosophical and Ethical Studies in the Modern World

  • Issues of Relationships
  • Issues of Life and Death
  • Issues of Good and Evil
  • Issues of Human Rights

Component 2: Study of Christianity

Students will study the beliefs, teachings and practices of Christianity.

Component 3: Study of a World Faith

Students will study the beliefs, teachings and practices of ONE world faith from the following list:

  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism

Here at Lincoln Minster School we shall be studying Islam.

Assessment

Component 1 – written exam
(2 hours, 50% of grade)

Component 2 – written exam
(1 hour, 25% of grade)

Component 3 – written exam
(1 hour, 25% of grade)

A Level – Religious Studies

In essence, Religious Studies at A Level is concerned with thinking about the ‘big’ questions in life, such as: who am I? (What is the nature of humanity?); where am I? (What is the meaning and nature of the world around me?); how should I live? (Is there right and wrong?); and what happens when I die?

Most people do not study RS because they want to become theologians or to work in the church (although if these are possible future vocations, you probably should be studying RS at A level). Nor do you have to have any strong religious views yourself (RS involves exploring and challenging religious convictions).

You will enjoy RS if you are interested in the type of issues it covers; you will be good at it if you can train yourself to think logically and accurately, to understand a range of theories and to evaluate them critically, to study primary source material carefully and to represent the ideas of others fairly.

Course Requirements

Religious Studies is principally a subject that involves reading and essay writing, so your ability in subjects such as English and History at GCSE may indicate your likely suitability for the subject at A Level. You do not need to have studied RS at GCSE. However, it is strongly advisable to have at least a Grade C in English, but a B would be preferable in enabling you to cope with the written content of the course.

The course is equally suitable for those who have a religious commitment and those who have none – fair and rational consideration and evaluation of a range of perspectives is expected. It does go well with A Levels such as English, History and the sciences – particularly if you are wanting to study medicine at university.

Course content and methodology

Philosophy

This approaches religious issues from a logical and rational perspective and examines some of the greatest thinkers and ideas that have influenced the modern world.

Year 12

You will focus on a variety of central questions relating to religious experience and belief. Is it possible to prove (or disprove) the existence of God by logical reasoning? Are traditional arguments for the existence of God useful? What challenges are there to religious belief?

Year 13

The focus shifts to a wider range of philosophical issues, including further rational arguments for the existence of God, the nature of religious language and the concept of miracle. This year also explores the nature of body, soul and personal identity (including issues of life after death) and examines the problem of evil and suffering.

you will also explore more conceptual questions, such as the nature of conscience and the debate as to how far our actions are determined, or based on our individual free will.

Ethics

In this part of the course, you will study a wide range of issues concerning the broad notions of right and wrong (morality). In both years you study a combination of ethical theory and applied ethics. Ethical theory involves thinking about how we decide what is right and wrong. We look at issues such as genetic engineering, war and peace, abortion and euthanasia.

Applied ethics takes the various theories including the systems mentioned above and examines how they apply to specific areas of moral controversy. In this year we study a topic on business and environmental ethics. Teaching methods are varied; debates, presentations, lecture-style seminars and appropriate documentaries are all used in the A Level classroom.

Developments in religious thought

This is a welcome new addition to the syllabus. Throughout the two years students will be studying a variety of themes from the Christian perspective. These range from religious beliefs, values and teachings, their interconnections and how they vary historically and in the contemporary world. Students will study significant social and historical developments in theology and religious thought, as well as a variety of key themes relate to the relationship between religion and society.

Assessment

Written exam: Philosophy of religion
(2 hours, 33.3% of grade)

Written exam: Religion and ethics
(2 hours, 33.3% of grade)

Written exam: Developments in religious thought from the Christian perspective
(2 hours, 33.3% of grade)

A Level – Sociology

Sociology is the study of the way people are affected by society, and how society is affected by people.

As individuals, we spend almost all our time in groups, and in order to understand our behaviour we have to examine and assess the impact of those groups and institutions on us. By taking the subject, you become a much more informed, questioning and critical citizen. Furthermore, you will take away from Sociology a completely different way of thinking about the world around you, and here is a promise: you will never look at that world in the same way again!

Sociology is an academic subject yet it equips students with a range of skills. You will learn to think critically, to question common-sense assumptions, to solve problems, to work independently.

Course Requirements

There are no specific requirements in terms of GCSE qualifications although a degree of competence in English – at least a Grade C is desirable as this will allow students to cope with the essay writing content of the course.
Sociology is an excellent complement to other subjects in the social sciences and humanities, such as Psychology, but it also provides a good balance if your other subjects are mainly science-based.

Course content and methodology

Families and Households

The family is one of the most fundamental social institutions in our lives. It is a place where we learn values, roles and identities. We explore the way in which factors such as sexuality, ethnicity, social class and social expectations have all played a major part in changing the way we understand the nature and role of the family in contemporary society.

Education with research methods

In this part of the course, we examine the role of the education system in wider society. This section of the course also includes an investigation into research methods. Sociologists have to do research and provide evidence for the claims they make.

We look at how sociologists do this and the usefulness of different methods in sociological research. For instance, how would one go about researching gangs in Glasgow?

Beliefs in society

This unit examines the role of religion and religious belief in modern society. Is there evidence that Britain is becoming a secular (non-religious) society? Or has religion become part of the modern market-place, enabling people to ‘pick and mix’ the aspects of religion that best suits their need. What are the effects of this? Is religion really the ‘opium of the people’?

Crime and deviance with theories and methods

A fascinating aspect of the course examining the causes, patterns and effects of crime and deviance in society. At this point in the course we also re-visit the way that Sociologists research society as well as look at the range of Sociological perspectives that have formed Sociological theories.

Various resources will be used to facilitate the learning process including TV documentaries, designing display boards, team essay writing, newspaper analysis and visiting speakers.

Assessment

Written exam 1
(2 hours, 33.3% of grade)

Written exam 2
(2 hours, 33.3% of grade)

Written exam 3
(2 hours, 33.3% of grade)

Supporting Advanced Performance

The Advanced Performance Team, led by our Director of Studies, seeks to advise staff on how we – as a teaching body – can identify, monitor and experientially enhance the educational opportunities of able, gifted and talented pupils at  Lincoln Minster School.

How do we cater for AP students in Religious Studies?

Within RS lessons, AP pupils are encouraged to complete tasks that are a variation of the main class task. They will be asked to complete activities in a different way; activities that are subtlety different yet suitably able to stretch and challenge their skills of empathy, application and evaluation. For example, if involved in a group presentation of information, AP pupils will be asked to deliver the presentation as a conversation between a member of a faith community and a non-member- the ‘conversation’ involves AP pupils designing a series of questions that fulfil different questioning style criteria e.g. some ‘knowledge’ type questions alongside ‘evaluation’ type questions.
AP pupils will be given opportunity to be ‘learning leaders’ as part of in-class activities.

  • Within RS lessons, AP pupils are encouraged to complete tasks that are a variation of the main class task. They will be asked to complete activities in a different way; activities that are subtlety different yet suitably able to stretch and challenge their skills of empathy, application and evaluation. For example, if involved in a group presentation of information, AP pupils will be asked to deliver the presentation as a conversation between a member of a faith community and a non-member- the ‘conversation’ involves AP pupils designing a series of questions that fulfil different questioning style criteria e.g. some ‘knowledge’ type questions alongside ‘evaluation’ type questions.
  • AP pupils will be given opportunity to be ‘learning leaders’ as part of in-class activities.
  • AP pupils might be asked to design the plenary for a lesson and then deliver it to the rest of the class. Peer assessment is used often with AP students

Encouraging Advanced Performance outside of lessons

• AP pupils invited to attend ‘talks’ from visiting speakers
• The annual departmental trip to Beth Shalom provides much scope for AP pupils to reflect upon classroom learning
• AP pupils are required to take part in the ‘Really Super Challenge’ each term. This involves pupils choosing three ‘challenges’ , all of which extend and develop not only subject knowledge but allow AP pupils to develop independent learning skills.

Other possibilities to extend and foster a child’s interest in RS:

  • Watch the news and discuss topical issues
  • Visit places of worship
  • Conduct questionnaires about local religious belief

Beyond Lincoln Minster School

In an increasingly competitive Higher Education market and workplace, universities and employers are not only looking for impressive grades, but also subjects which demonstrate a student’s versatility and a greater breadth of skill and interest.

Pupils use a variety of transferable skills whilst studying both RS and Sociology that are valuable in further study and in the workplace:

  • Communication
  • Essay Writing
  • Recall, select and organise information in a coherent manner
  • Debating
  • Analysing information presented
  • The ability to argue both sides of a discussion question.

Most people do not study RS because they want to become theologians or to work in the church (although if these are possible future vocations, you probably should be studying RS at A level). Nor do you have to have any strong religious views yourself (RS involves exploring and challenging religious convictions).

You will enjoy RS if you are interested in the type of issues it covers; you will be good at it if you can train yourself to think logically and accurately, to understand a range of theories and to evaluate them critically, to study primary source material carefully and to represent the ideas of others fairly.

RS is a fascinating subject, which will train you in skills of analysis, logical thought, empathy and literacy. These are quite clearly skills which will prepare you well for both university and the world of work. It directly provides a foundation for courses in Philosophy, Religious Studies and Theology.

However, the skills and challenges involved in studying RS at A Level are highly relevant to a wide range of courses in the humanities and social sciences as well as for careers in Law, Medicine, Teaching, and Journalism.

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