tutoring

AQA GCSE religious studies Exam

Introduction

GCSE religious studies is divided into two papers.

The first paper is ‘The study of religions: beliefs, teachings and practices.’ It is a written exam of one hour and forty-five minutes, accounting for 50% of the GCSE. The paper assesses two of the following: Buddhism, Christianity, Catholic Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. It should be noted that students are not allowed to choose both Christianity and Catholic Christianity.

The second paper is ‘Thematic studies.’ It is a written exam of one hour and forty-five minutes, accounting for the other 50% of the GCSE.
The paper assesses either four religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes or two religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes and two textual studies themes.

Religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes:
• Theme A: Relationships and families
• Theme B: Religion and life
• Theme C: The existence of God and revelation
• Theme D: Religion, peace and conflict
• Theme E: Religion, crime and punishment
• Theme F: Religion, human rights and social justice
Textual studies themes:
• Theme G: St Mark’s Gospel – the life of Jesus
• Theme H: St Mark’s Gospel as a source of religious, moral and spiritual truths

There are two assessment objectives, which are specified for students. Please find our full breakdown of GCSE Religious Studies below, with requisite assessment details and objectives.

Paper 1: The study of religions: beliefs, teachings and practice
Students should study any two of the following:  

• Buddhism
• Christianity
• Catholic Christianity
• Hinduism
• Islam
• Judaism
• Sikhism.
Just to reemphasise(!): Christianity and Catholic Christianity is a prohibited combination.
Buddhism
Key beliefs
The Dhamma (Dharma)
The Buddha and the Four Noble Truths
Practices
The Buddha and the Four Noble Truths
Buddhist ethics

Christianity
Beliefs and teachings
Key beliefs
Jesus Christ and salvation
Practices
Worship and festivals
The role of the church the local and worldwide community

Catholic Christianity
Beliefs and teachings
Key beliefs
The seven sacraments
Practices
Worship
The work of the church

Hinduism
Beliefs and teachings
Ideas about the nature of God and existence
Beliefs about the nature of human life
Practices
Worship and festival
Lifestyle

Islam
Beliefs and teachings
Key beliefs
Authority
Practices
Worship
Duties and festivals

Judaism
Beliefs and teachings
Key beliefs
The Covenant and the mitzvot
Practices
The synagogue and worship
Family life and festivals

Sikhism
Beliefs and teachings
Key beliefs
Beliefs about the nature of human life
Practices
Worship and service
Festivals and lifestyle

Paper 2: Thematic studies 
Religious, philosophical and ethical studies 

Students should be aware of different religious perspectives on the issues studied within and / or between religious and non-religious beliefs such as atheism and humanism.

Students must also study religious, philosophical and ethical arguments related to the issues raised, and their impact and influence on the modern world.

Students will be expected to show their understanding of religion through the application of teachings from religion and beliefs. They will also be expected to make specific references to sources of wisdom and authority including scripture and/or sacred texts. They may refer to any relevant religious text such as the Pali Canon, the sermons of the Buddha, the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Vedas and Upanishads, the Qur’an and Hadith, the Torah and Talmud, and the Guru Granth Sahib.

Theme A: Relationships and families 

Students should study religious teachings, and religious, philosophical and ethical arguments, relating to the issues that follow, and their impact and influence in the modern world. They should be aware of contrasting perspectives in contemporary British society on all of these issues.  

Key topic areas: 

Sex, marriage and divorce 

Families and gender equality 

Theme B: Religion and life 

Students should study religious teachings, and religious, philosophical and ethical arguments, relating to the issues that follow, and their impact and influence in the modern world. They should be aware of contrasting perspectives in contemporary British society on all of these issues. 

Key topic areas:  

The origins and value of the universe 

The origins and value of human life 

Theme C: The existence of God and revelation 

Students should study religious teachings, and religious and philosophical arguments, relating to the issues that follow, and their impact and influence in the modern world. They should be aware of contrasting perspectives in contemporary British society on all of these issues. 

Key topic areas: 

Philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God 

The nature of the divine and revelation 

Theme D: Religion, peace and conflict 

Students should study religious teachings, and religious, philosophical and ethical arguments, relating to the issues that follow, and their impact and influence in the modern world. They should be aware of contrasting perspectives in contemporary British society on all of these issues 

Key topic areas: 

Religion, violence, terrorism and war 

Religion and belief in 21st century conflict 

Theme E: Religion, crime and punishment 

Students should study religious teachings, and religious, philosophical and ethical arguments, relating to the issues that follow, and their impact and influence in the modern world. They should be aware of contrasting perspectives in contemporary British society on all of these issues. 

Key topic areas: 

Religion, crime and the causes of crime 

Religion and punishment 

Theme F: Religion, human rights and social justice 

Students should study religious teachings, and religious, philosophical and ethical arguments, relating to the issues that follow, and their impact and influence in the modern world. They should be aware of contrasting perspectives in contemporary British society on all of these issues. 

Human rights 

Wealth and poverty 

Textual studies 

In studying these themes, students should be aware of the significance, importance and influence of St Mark’s Gospel for individuals, communities and societies. They should understand how varied interpretations of the meaning of passages from St Mark’s Gospel may give rise to diversity within Christian traditions and consider how far Christian and non-religious communities give authority to St Mark’s Gospel, especially in relation to other sources of contemporary authority. Students should be able to show knowledge of the set texts for study and an understanding of their importance for Jesus, for his early followers and for people of the 21st century. Students should be able to consider the authority of the Gospel and the relevance of Jesus’ example and teaching. 

Theme G: St Mark’s gospel: the life of Jesus 

The early ministry of Jesus 

The later ministry of Jesus 

The final days in Jerusalem 

Significance 

Theme H: St Mark’s Gospel as a source of religious, moral and spiritual truths 

The Kingdom of God 

Jesus’ relationships with those disregarded by society 

Faith and discipleship 

Significance 

 

Assessment details

Assessment Objectives The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives:
  • AO1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of religion and beliefs including: • beliefs, practices and sources of authority • influence on individuals, communities and societies • similarities and differences within and/or between religions and beliefs.
  • AO2 Analyse and evaluate aspects of religion and belief, including their significance and influence.
Close Menu