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Religious Studies

Welcome to the Religious Studies Department

“Minds are like parachutes – they only function when they are open”
Lord Thomas Robert Dewar 


An understanding of our own and others’ belief systems is a vital part of education. In Religious Studies, students are encouraged to be open minded, and are given the opportunity to reflect on their own beliefs and test those against the beliefs of others from a variety of religious and secular viewpoints. We feel it is important that they acquire a proper understanding of how religion has shaped our society and the role it continues to play in our largely secular world, although the department itself does not hold any particular viewpoint.

There are no easy answers and often they find themselves considering complex moral issues, frequently around the subjects of life and death. Regardless of their own viewpoints, all students gain valuable skills in empathy and logical reasoning, as this is a subject in which discussion plays a very large role and in which students learn to weigh and evaluate different arguments.

Due to the department consistently achieving strong results across all examination groups, this is a subject which is one of the most popular in the school, with students relishing the rather unique opportunity the subject provides for open questioning and deeper thinking. It is also held in very high regard by universities and employers in areas such as law, medicine and teaching (to name but a few), as it shows your ability to think deeply and argue logically and sensitively, with cultural awareness.

At Cranbrook we have a specialist classroom, equipped with white boards and the latest resources designed to provide all students with an interactive and relevant education. All GCSE and sixth form classes are taught by subject specialists, and the Head of Department is a Specialist Educational Leader for Kent.  Trips include the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, a Mosque and Muslim school in London and student conferences.  We will also have guest speakers visiting the school to talk about a number of different philosophical and ethical issues.

Year 7, 8 and 9 :  Students in Year 7 and 8 follow a bespoke unique course, that not only explores a range of major world views (both religious and secular), but also introduces them to the basics of philosophy and ethics. We look at issues of justice, human and animal rights, and the environment, as well as philosophical issues such as what is real, can we know anything and what counts as proof.

The key stage three course is aimed at ensuring all students have a solid understanding of a range of viewpoints, as well as laying the foundation for GCSE study.

GCSE Year 10 and 11 :  We follow the AQA Religious Studies A course. Full specification can be found here:


The GCSE course is split into two main components: the study of two world religions, and the study of key philosophical and ethical issues. As the two largest UK religions, we will be studying Christianity and Islam. For both of these, we will study the key beliefs, practices and the role of each of the religions in the global community.

For the philosophical and ethical element to the course, we will be studying six key issues (four of which are examined): Relationships and Families, Peace and Conflict, Life Issues, Human Rights and Social Justice, Crime and Punishment and The Existence of God.

These topics cover a wide range of philosophical issues such as whether or not God exists, how the universe began, as well as  ethical issues such as sex and contraception, sexuality, poverty, marriage and divorce, equality, terrorism, abortion, euthanasia, people trafficking, the death penalty and animal testing.

AS Year 12 : We follow the new AQA Philosophy course. Full specification can be found here:


AS Philosophy comprises of 2 units, each on a different key philosophical area. In Year 12, the focus on is on Epistemology and Moral Philosophy. This involves an in depth study of a range of ethical issues such as war, simulated killing, crime and punishment, and deception, as well as investigating the Kantian, Aristotelian and Utilitarian responses to these. In Epistemology, students will question what knowledge is, and whether or not it is possible to have any, using the theories of philosophers such as Plato, Locke and Descartes.

This can either be a stand-alone qualification, or form 50% of the A2 course.

A2 Year 13 :  For 2017, Year 13 will be following the outgoing AQA Philosophy course.  Full specification can be found here:


A2 Philosophy comprises of 2 units that build on and compliment the AS course.

In Year 13, the focus on is on Philosophy of Mind and Moral Philosophy. This involves an in depth study of a range of ethical issues such as war, simulated killing, crime and punishment, and deception, as well as investigating the Kantian, Aristotelian and Utilitarian responses to these. In the Philosophy of Mind, students focus on the relationship between the body and mind by looking at theories such as dualism and materialism.

Mrs Toni Harris, Head of Religious Studies : harrist@cranbrook.kent.sch.uk

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