A Level Theology

HEAD OF DEPARTMENT: Miss A Moloney BA (Hons) (Surrey), PGCE (Surrey)
Email: amoloney@stedmundscollege.org


Please find below a breakdown of the course. Further information can be found in the full specification, which is available on the EDEXCEL A Level Philosophy and Ethics webpage. Assessment for all three components are completed at the end of Rhetoric II.

Theology offers the opportunity to focus on the Christian faith in detail, through the study of Bible, the history of Christianity, its key thinkers and its influence on philosophical and ethical debates and the actions of its believers.  It offers the opportunity to think laterally and address the ‘big questions’ such as who am I? Why do I exist? If there is a God, why does He allow suffering and so forth?

COMPONENT 1 – Philosophy of Religion

This unit includes the following topics:

  • The Nature and influence of religious experience
  • The Problem of evil and suffering and solutions
  • Religious Language
  • Key Scholars
  • Influences and developments over the years

COMPONENT 2 – Religion and Ethics

This unit includes the following topics:

  • Utilitarianism
  • Situation Ethics
  • Natural Moral Law
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Gender and Equality
  • War and Peace
  • Sexual Ethics

COMPONENT 3 – Christianity

This unit includes the following topics:

  • Religious Beliefs, values and teachings
  • Sources of wisdom and authority
  • Practices that shape and express religious identity
  • Social and historical developments
  • Works of scholars
  • Religion and society

Students are assessed on their knowledge and understanding and their ability to analyse and evaluate.  They should include religious language and be able to reference strengths and weaknesses to draw a conclusion and make critical judgements.

In each of these components, students will be assessed on the following objectives:

  • AO1: Knowledge and Understanding: ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of religion and belief, including philosophical and ethical thought and teaching; influence of beliefs, teachings and practices of individuals, communities and societies; cause and significance of similarities and differences in belief, teaching and practice; approaches to the study of religion and belief.
  • AO2: Analysis, Evaluation and Application: ability to analyse and evaluate aspects of philosophical and ethical approaches to religion and belief, including their significance, influence and study. To apply personal understanding and to be able to address the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments, and reach an informed conclusion based on the views of specific scholars, philosophers and theologians.


Area of study 1:  Philosophy
  • Religious Language – uses and purpose
  • The Verification and Falsification Principles
  • The Uses of Symbol, Analogy and Myth to express human understanding of God
  • Religious Experience
  • The concept of Revelation
  • The Attributes and Nature of God
  • Life after Death – The Soul: Death, Resurrection and Reincarnation
  • The views of various philosophers and theologians including St. Thomas Aquinas, Plato, Aristotle, J Hume, A J Ayer, A Flew, L Wittgenstein, P Tillich.
Area of study 2:  Ethics
  • Meta-Ethics – the use of ethical language and the ways in which different scholars understand how words like good, bad, right and wrong are used when ethical statements are made.
  • Virtue Ethics – The concepts of the Eudaimonia and the Golden Mean
  • Applied Ethics and Ethical Theories:
  • Natural Law, Kantian Ethics, Utilitarianism, Religious Ethics,
  • Environmental Ethics – The Gaia Hypothesis, Resources and Species
  • Gender and Equality – rights
  • Sexual Ethics – premarital, extramarital sex, contraception, homosexuality
  • The Sanctity of life: Beginning and Ending of Life: Abortion and Euthanasia
  • The views of various philosophers and theologians including St. Thomas Aquinas. P Singer, P Vardy, J Fletcher, J S Mill, J Bentham.

Area of study 3:  Christianity

  • Challenging the nature and authority of God, the Trinity, the Church and key Christian moral principles
  • The diversity of practice in the Eucharist and in creative expressions of religious identity
  • Exploring Christianity and Science, Secularisation and new movements in Theology today
  • Exploring the atonement theory and the ideas of Karl Barth and John Hick.
  • Investigating pluralism, diversity, equality and discrimination.


Students will each be given a copy of the Edexcel Philosophy and Ethics Pearson A Level Textbook, alongside various New Testament Textbooks

There is no expectation that students purchase any of the below books. We have access to these books which form part of our A level Theology resources. The list below is intended to give a flavour of the course and provide a reference point if any topics prove particularly challenging.


  1. Plato ‘The Republic’
  2. Stephen Law ‘The Philosophy Files’
  3. Ahluwahlia ‘Foundations for Study of Religion’
  4. Vardy and Arliss ‘The Thinker’s guide to God’
  5. Bowie ‘Ethical studies’
  6. Jordan, Lockyer and Tate ‘Philosophy of Religion’
  7. Palmer ‘The Question of God’
  8. Raeper and Smith ‘A beginners guide to ideas’
  9. Dawkins ‘The God delusion’
  10. Vardy and Arliss ‘The Thinker’s Guide to Evil’
  11. Cole ‘Philosophy of Religion’
  12. Burns and Law ‘Philosophy of religion for AS and A2’
  13. Law ‘The Philosophy Gym’
  14. Dawkins ‘The selfish gene’
  15. Clarke ‘Questions about God’
  16. Palmer ‘Freud and Jung on religion’
  17. Cole ‘Philosophy of religion: access to philosophy’
  18. Robinson and Garrett ‘introducing Descartes’
  19. K. O’Donnell ‘Descartes: a beginners guide’
  20. Peterson et al ‘Reason & religious belief’
  21. Thiselton ‘A concise encyclopedia of the philosophy of religion’
  22. Hay ‘Religious Experience today’
  23. James ‘the varieties of religious experience’
  24. Hume ‘Enquiry concerning human concern’
  25. Vardy ‘the puzzle of God’
  26. Warburton ‘Philosophy: basic readings’
  27. Hick ‘death & eternal life’


  1. Thompson ‘Ethical theory’
  2. Bowie ‘Ethical studies’
  3. Ahluwahlia ‘Foundations for Study of Religion’
  4. Vardy and Arliss ‘The Thinker’s guide to God’
  5. Dialogue magazines
  6. Vardy and Arliss ‘The Thinker’s Guide to Evil’
  7. Morgan and Lawton ‘Ethical issues in six world religions’
  8. Wilcockson
  9. Robertson
  10. Aristotle ‘Ethics’
  11. Singer ‘practical ethics’
  12. Vardy ‘puzzle of sex’

Useful Websites

http://www.rsrevision.com/Alevel/  This is an excellent site for the A Level.

http://post16.reonline.org.uk/index.php This has lots of links to original source material.

http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Category:A_Level_Religious_Studies_Revision_Notes has some useful topics to look at.

http://plato.stanford.edu/ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is an excellent resource.  Although some of the articles are more challenging it may provide valuable additional reading and help to challenge your thinking.

Enrichment opportunities:

  • To experience the rich Catholic heritage and traditions of England’s oldest Catholic School.
  • A Level Religious Studies Conference at Heyhrop College, University of London and Cambridge.

Higher Education and Career Prospects:

  • The Study of Theology will complement and support the study of Humanities
  • It can contribute to the development of the whole person
  • The student will develop transferable skills
  • Former pupils have gone onto study a range of subjects at University including: Law, English, Politics, History, Philosophy, Theology, Psychology and Criminology, Sociology and many others including jobs in the Police force, Nursing and Teaching.


Department Aims and Objectives

  1. To foster an inherent enjoyment and love of Theology; through ideas, texts, beliefs and actions.
  2. To be accessible to every individual by focusing on an aspect of human experience that has been fundamental to humanity’s understanding of itself, in all its variety.
  3. Through the fascination of big ideas, to look at the way people’s beliefs influence the way they live.
  4. To fully understand the nature and concept of Conscience, whether it is formed through nature or nurture.
  5. To fully understand why people make ethical choices and whether they are determined by upbringing, religious beliefs, the law of the land.
  6. To question whether we actually have ‘Free-Will’.
  7. To fully understand the nature of God – all loving, all powerful, all knowing.
  8. To make sense of Suffering and Evil
  9. To make sense of beliefs in Life after Death.
  10. To support the liturgical and spiritual life of the school.
  11. To encourage Theology staff and students to have respect for and interest in other opinions.
  12. To promote well-being and self-esteem in students, as well as encourage positive behaviour for learning and leadership.
  13. To give students the opportunity of having a skill for life.
  14. To develop skills in independent learning and foster curiosity, creativity and an appreciation of the world around them including religious and secular beliefs.
  15. To develop Religious Literacy and Critical Thinking skills with the potential to foster respect and tolerance based on knowledge rather than supposition.
  16. To intellectually challenge any religious and secular assumptions.

Resources and Rooming for A level Theology

The Religious Education Department has 4 fully equipped classrooms each consisting of smart interactive boards. We are privileged to own an extensive range of Theological textbooks, some belonging to scholars who were here at St. Edmund’s as seminarians.  These can be found in the archive section of Room 46.  Various Religious Supplements can be found in the College Library.


  • Learning methods include investigative research work, audio-video and computer based work, paired and group work, discussion sessions alongside teacher led sessions.
  • Students will receive regular set essays throughout the course. Some of these will be set for Preps. Others will be set under timed conditions.
  • Students should aim to come fully prepared to lessons, and complete tasks on time.
  • Students will be expected to read extensively and keep abreast of relevant topical issues. This will enhance their ability to develop arguments, as they will be expected to participate in oral work and often present to the class.
  • Students will be given a textbook and essay marking criteria and should refer to these on a regular basis.
  • Students will be provided with a folder, dividers, an essay log sheet and a self-assessment sheet that they should keep up to date, to help monitor their progress so they know where they are at.