Religious Studies GCSE


 Welcome  to your GCSE Religious Studies course. This  Introduction will show  you  what you  can  expect  from the  course and  will help you  plan  and  prepare  for your study. It is important that you  read through the Introduction carefully before you start the lessons.


The GCSE Religious Studies course follows the AQA Specification B, Ethics, Philosophy and Religion in Society, 4055.


In  GCSE Religious  Studies, the  scheme  of assessment  is modular. To achieve  a Full Course GCSE,  you  will need  to study two Units from the  specification. Each  Unit iassessed in a separate examination. This course is based on two  chosen  Units from the specification (see below).


There are two possible ways of achieving a Full Course GCSE:


·    you may take both the examinations at the end of two years;

·    you may take both the examinations at the end of one year;

·    NB you can no longer take  one examination at the end of one year, and the other at the end of the following year.


Success  in one of these  examinations will achieve  a Short Course Accreditation,  i.e.  half   GCSE.   Yo will  need   to  pass   both examinations to obtain a GCSE in Religious Studies.



Of  course, the  examiners will be looking for good  knowledge and understanding of the specification, but they will also be testing good evaluation skills and the course will help you to develop these skills.



The Two Units



The two units included in this course are designed to enable you to focus on religions which are of interest to you. You may choose from six  religions: Buddhism,  Christianity,  Hinduism,  Islam Judaism and Sikhism.



Unit 1: Religion and Citizenship



You are required to study one religion only  in Unit 1, but you may refer to more than one religion in your answers if you wish  to.



Unit 6: Worship and Key Beliefs



You need to study at least two religions  in Unit 6.




What are Religious Studies?



The study of religions helps to:


·    achieve  an understanding of people of different cultures and traditions;


·    prevent prejudice and promote tolerance;


·    develop   confidence   i participating  fully  in  the   lif of  a multicultural society;


·    provide    insight   and    understandin o the    rights   and responsibilities of citizenship;


·    encourage evaluation skills, expecting  opinions formed to be supported   b vali argumen and    evidence.   This    may enhance students’  ability and  motivation to  make  a positive contribution to debates and decisions in society;


·    understand  local, national  and  global  issues  and  to  place them  in a spiritual or moral context;


·    understand  the  relationship  between   beliefs,  morality  and lifestyles by focusing on the study of specific issues;


·    provid an  opportunity  for thos with a  religious faith  to develop their understanding of their own religion and  explore the  religions of others. For humanists,  or others  who  do not



have  a  religious faith,  it  facilitates understanding of  the beliefs of others;


·    make  a contribution to philosophy, and  enables  reflection on ultimate questions about life and death.



The Arrangement of the Lessons



In  the  examination,  candidates  will be  required  to  answer   four questions  based  on  four  of  the   six  topics in  Unit  1  and   four questions based  on  four of  the  six topic in Unit 6.  This course covers  five  of the  six topics  in Unit 1, and  five  of the  six topics in Unit 6 as set out below.  So  you will  have one ‘spare’ topic for each paper.


Each topic  is covered in two lessons and the lessons are arranged in the order in which the topics  occur on the specification.



Unit 1: Religion and Citizenship







General Introduction


Preliminary Lesson: The Skill of Evaluation


Introduction to Religion and Citizenship

Module  1

Topic  1: Religion and Relationships


Religion and Marriage


Marriage Ceremonies and Divorce


Module  2

Topic  2: Religion, Sport and Leisure


Religious Attitudes to Sport and Leisure


Issues in Religion and Sport


Module  3

Topic  3: Religion and Work


The Importance of Work and Service


Rights  and Responsibilities


Module  4

Topic  4: Religion and the Multicultural Society


Religion and Politics


Responses to Issues


Module  5

Topic  6*: Religion and Human Rights


Religion and Human Rights  1


Religion and Human Rights  2: Pressure Groups and



TMA F: Mock  Exam  for Unit 1



*N.B.  Topic  5  in the  specification  (Religion  and Identity)  is not

included in this course.




Unit 6: Worship and Key Beliefs







An Introduction to Worship and Key Beliefs in World


Module  6

Topic  1: Places of Worship


Places of Worship 1


Places of Worship 2


Module  7

Topic  2: Worship


Worship 1: Worship in Special Buildings and at Home


Worship 2: Roles, Function and Value


Module  8

Topic  3: Pilgrimage


Pilgrimage 1: Judaism, Christianity, Islam


Pilgrimage 2: Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism


Module  9

Topic  4: Origins  and Beliefs


Origins and Beliefs


Beliefs and Impact


Module  10

Topic  5: Practices and Belonging


Practices  and Belonging 1


Practices  and Belonging 2


TMA L: Mock  Exam  for Unit 6




*N.B.   Topic 6 in the specification (Authority) is not included in this course.





The Aims of GCSE Religious Studies Specification B



This course will provide students with the opportunity to:


·    develop  their knowledge,  skills and  understanding of religion by exploring the  significance and  impact of beliefs, teachings, sources,  practices,   ways   o lif an forms  o expressing meaning;



·    expres their  personal responses  an informed  insights  on fundamental questions and issues about identity, belonging, meaning, purpose, truth, values and commitments.


The Topics for Unit 1 and Unit 6 are as follows:



Unit 1 Religion and Citizenship



This unit is designed to link Religious Studies with other subjects in the  secondary level curriculum including Citizenship, and  Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). It also contributes to the development of spiritual, moral, social and cultural education.



Within each topic studied, you should be familiar with the religious beliefs and  teachings from the  religion(s) you  have chosen  to study. You should also be aware of how religious leaders and other faith members  have interpreted these  teachings and  applied them  to life in society today.



Topic 1: Religion and Relationships


·    concepts     of     commitment,        responsibility,         contract       and covenant;

·    human sexuality and  sexual relationships  (heterosexual  and homosexual relationships);

·    age of consent and  religious attitudes to sexual relationships before and outside marriage;

·    religious attitudes to contraception;

·    religious  understandings  of  the  purpose  and   character  of marriage;

·    marriage  ceremonies,   contracts  and   vows alternatives  to marriage;

·    religious responses to the issues of love, parental involvement and race in the choice of  marriage partner;

·    the concept  and role of parenting;

·    the concept  and role of the family;

·    religious attitudes to divorce.



Topic 2: Religion, Sport and Leisure


·    religious attitudes  towards the  purpose, use and  importance of leisure;

·    types and purposes of relaxation, e.g. stress relief;

·    misuse of leisure time, e.g. casinos,  binge drinking;

·    morality in  sport, e.g.  winning  at  all  costs honesty,  fair competition and use of performance enhancing drugs;

·    religious  organisations  withi leisure,  e.g Christians  in

Sport, chaplains;



·    leisure as  an  inspiration,  benefits of  belonging to  a  team, creativ activities  an the   promotion  of  exercise,   healthy living and relaxation;

·    financ involved  i leisur activities   includin pay    of superstars, gambling and sponsorship;

·    devotio o fans    including   pilgrimage,  songs,    symbols, memorabilia and mementos, e.g. has sport become a religion?

·    sabbath and  other religious issues, e.g.  competing on  holy days, source of skills and natural ability;

·    leisure and  issues of prejudice, e.g. gender  issues, disability, professional and amateur status in sport.



Topic 3: Religion and Work


·    religious attitudes to the purpose and importance of work;

·    work as service and prayer, e.g. sewa;

·    careers, including  a case study of the work of a believer who has regarded work as a  vocation;

·    business and  enterprise, including  views  of  acceptable  and unacceptable professions, th economy  and raising of money

through taxation;

·    use of money from earning, e.g. tithes;

·    responsibilities  and  rights of  employers  and  employees,  e.g. fair  wages,  the  minimum  wage,  health  and   safety  issues, trade unions,  contracts, code  of  conduct, holy day  issues, family commitments;

·    importance of voluntary work, including a case study of the work of a religious voluntary organisation;

·    reasons  for  unemployment,   th problems it  brings  and support for those  out of work, e.g. by  the  state,  community and religious organisations.



Topic 4: Religion and the Multicultural Society


·    concepts  of tolerance, respect, diversity, multiculturalism and political correctness;

·    religion and  its involvement in politics and  the  debate  about whether religion and politics should mix;

·    advantages  and  disadvantages of a multicultural society, e.g. diversity, culture,  celebrations, differences, segregation, misunderstanding;

·    issues  such  as having a state  religion,  blasphemy laws and freedom of choice;

·    debate  about asylum seekers,  integration, immigration and emigration;

·    influence   o faith   communities,  locally,  nationall and internationally;

·    projects run by faith communities;



·    custom and    celebrations,    such     as    festivals  i the community, e.g. Wesak, Christmas, Divali, Eid ul Fitr, Pesach and Baisakhi.



Topic 6: Religion and Human Rights


·    religious attitudes towards the law and human rights;

·    the  impact of religion on the  rights and  responsibilities  as a citizen;

·    human rights, including United Nations (UN) Declaration of

Human Rights, the Human Rights Act and legal rights;

·    organisations  which  hel if  rights  are  being   abused,   e.g.

Citizens Advice Bureau, ChildLine and Samaritans;

·    case  studies  of  contemporary  local  and   national  human rights issues;

·    role of local, national and  international  pressure groups and organisations,  e.g.  Amnesty  International Greenpeace, Abortion Right, Society  for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC);

·    forms  of   protest  as  a  means   of   publicising  issues   and achieving minority and/or  human rights;

·    religious responses  to protest, pressure groups and  human rights;

·    reasons    why     believers     might    support    non-religious organisations;

·    case studies of the  work of religious groups and  individuals who have supported human rights.



Unit 6: Worship and Key Beliefs



Thi unit  allows yo to  explor the   key  beliefs,  teachings  and practice of at least two of the six major world faiths (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam,  Judaism, Sikhism). It also allows for a comparison and  contrast of aspects  of two  faiths. Candidates will be expected to evaluate and make judgements about the impact and importance of  these  aspects  of  the  faith. Questions will facilitate answers  from any  of the  six major world religions, but will not be specifically about one religion.



Topic 1: Places of Worship


For each religion studied:


·    description and symbolism of the exterior of buildings;

·    description and symbolism of the interior of buildings;

·    furnishings, including the use and symbolism;

·    why there are religious buildings;



·    money    spent   on    religiou buildings,   including   making judgements regarding this use of money;

·    uses  and  role in community,  including  its influence on  the community;

·    the value of buildings to an individual or the religion.



Topic 2: Worship


For each religion studied:


·    worship at place  of worship and  at home,  including the  key elements  of each;

·    aids to worship (items used in worship) what they  are, how they are used, and their symbolism;

·    roles   in  worship  o different  members    o the   religious community, and their importance;

·    day  of  worship, including  its  importance and  wh it was chosen;

·    function and value of worship itself;

·    attitudes to worship in the life of faith.



Topic 3: Pilgrimage


For each religion studied:


·    key places of pilgrimage;

·    linked events  and  history, people,  symbolism,  practices for each place of pilgrimage;

·    impact  of  pilgrimage  on  a  religion  and   on  an  individual, including links with miraculous happenings, and  pilgrimage as a life-changing experience;

·    value of pilgrimage to a religion or individual;

·    attitudes to the place/role of pilgrimage in a modern society.



Topic 4: Origins and Beliefs


For each religion studied:


·    origins of the faith, including life of the founder or prophet;

·    concept  of God;

·    nature of afterlife, and how this life influences that one;

·    concept  of soul (or similar, or no soul);

·    basic beliefs/teaching;

·    value to the believer of these concepts,  and the impact on the lives of believers.



Topic 5: Practices and Belonging


For each religion studied:


·    behaviour  codes,  including  the  need  to  follow  them and attitudes to those who do not;

·    duties;

·    dietary laws, including  the  challenges  this may  present  to believers living in a multicultural                                     society;

·    prayer  and meditation;

·    rites of passage;

·    key festivals.


For each  practice, both   the  importance and  the  value must  be studied.


In  the  Specification, there is a helpful Grid on pages 21-22  which sets out specific beliefs and practices which need to be covered for each of the six religions.



Assessment Objectives



The  following information  shows  you  what skills will be tested  in your examination:



Asessment Objective 1 (AO1)



Describe, explain and analyse, using knowledge and understanding.





Assessment Objective 2 (AO2)



Use  evidence   and   reasoned   argument  to  expres and   evaluate personal responses, informed insights, and differing viewpoints.




AO1  and   AO2  are  interrelated  and   connections must  be  made. Students are expected to use their knowledge and  understanding to support their responses to the issues for evaluation. (For more information on evaluation skills, please refer to the Preliminary Lesson.)



AQA’s Scheme of Assessment and the Examinations




Unit 1: Religion and Citizenship



A one-and-a-half hour un-tiered paper,  targeted at grades A*-G.


The Paper consists of six  questions, to match the  six  topics in the specification, of  which this  course has  covered  five.  You  need  to answer  four questions. Each question has four or five parts and you must answer each part of the four questions  you choose.


The questions test AO1 and AO2. Each question carries 18 marks.


In  the  examination,  students  write  their  answer in the  answer booklet provided. You  must make  sure you  write  down  clearly the number of each question and question part you are answering.


This  course has  chosen  not  to  cover  one  of the  sections (Topic  5:

Religion  and  Identity).  So you  should not answer  this question or parts of this question.


The total mark for the paper  is 72, plus  there are 4 marks available for good  spelling, punctuation  and  grammar (SPaG), so the  grand total is 76 marks.



Unit 6: Worship and Key Beliefs



A one-and-a-half hour un-tiered paper,  targeted at grades A*-G.


The Paper consists of six  questions, to match the  six  topics in the specification, of  which this  course has  covered  five.  You  need  to answer  four questions. Each question has four or five parts and you must answer each part of the four questions  you choose.


The questions test AO1 and AO2. Each question carries 18 marks.


In  the  examination,  students  write  their  answer in the  answer booklet provided. You  must make  sure you  write  down  clearly the number of each question and question part you are answering.


This  course has  chosen  not  to cover  one  of  the  sections  (Topic  6

Authority). So you  should not answer this question or parts of this question.


The total mark for the paper  is 72, plus  there are 4 marks available for good  spelling, punctuation  and  grammar (SPaG), so the  grand total is 76 marks.



Choice of Sections



For each  examination,  this  course has  not studied one  topic (see above). This  is so that you have more time to cover the other topics. However,  yo do  have  some  choice.  You  need  to  remember to answer  only four  questions, on  four different  topics  and  all the parts of that question. You will see exactly  how the questions are set out when you do a mock  examination (TMA F and TMA L).



Choice of Religions



For the  AQA GCSE Religious  Studies B Specification, you  may  use information from up to six religions. These are:


·    Buddhism

·    Christianity

·    Hinduism

·    Islam

·    Judaism

·    Sikhism


For the study of Unit 1: Religion and Citizenship, you could study the  views of religious believers from just ONE religion, or you  may like  to study more than  one  and  use  different religions to answer different questions.


For the study of Unit 6: Worship  and Key Beliefs,  you must study at least TWO religions. There will be questions in which you will be asked  for the  beliefs  or teachings or attitudes of two religions. You must not use more than two  religions for these  answers. However, in your exam  you  could use the  same two  religions throughout, or use a different two religions for different questions.


It may be interesting to use some different religions in your answers in Unit 6, but it is not advisable  to learn beliefs and  practices in six religions because it is possible to confuse  them and  there would be a great deal  to  learn. You  will not be asked  any  question about a specific religion, because,  of course, not all candidates for the examination will have studied the same religions.



Holy Books


One of the  chief sources of authority for the  religions is their holy books.  These are the  books  or documents which religious believers regard as  sacred  or significant. They  are important  because  they contain many  of the  beliefs and  teachings of the  faith, and  because either  they are believed to have come directly from God, or through



leaders of the faith, or have been collected together over many  years from traditions handed  down by word of mouth by believers.


The following holy books are referred to in this course:


·    Buddhism The Tripitaka

·    Christianity  - The Bible

·    Islam   The  Quran (sometimes Koran), hadith

·    Hinduism the Vedas, Laws of Manu, Mahabharata

·    Judaism      –    The     Tenakh    (Torah,     Neviim,     Ketuvim),     The


·    Sikhism The Guru Granth Sahib, Rahit Maryada

This  course does not expect  you  to study these books  in detail, but to understand their importance for the religion.




Quotations from Holy Books



Where  quotations  have  been  included in lessons,  the  book  from which the quotation has been taken  is named,  followed by a specific reference to the chapter or verse in which it appears. For example,  a reference to the Bible given as Exodus 20:3 refers to the Book of Exodus, Chapter 20, Verse 3.  The holy book reference is followed by the  name  of the  religion  for which the  book  is sacred.    So for the above, reference would appear as: ‘(Exodus 20:3) (Judaism, Christianity).


e.g. ‘A man leaves his mother and father and is  united with his wife,

and they become one. (Genesis 2:24) (Judaism and Christianity)


In a similar way, Quran 30:21 refers to Chapter 30, Verse 21 of the Quran, and Mahabharata 5:1517 refers the first to the chapter and then  the  verse  from which the  quotation was  taken. In  the  same way, the numbers in the reference, ‘Guru Granth Sahib 1299’ refer to the verse.


e.g.  "They  are  not  said  to  be  husband and  wife who  merely  sit together.  Rather  they  alone  are called husband and  wife,  who  have one soul  in  two  bodies."  (Guru  Granth Sahib Ji,  Pauri, page 788), (Sikhism)


This practice has been followed in the case of most  of the holy books quoted. You are not expected  to know  the numbers of a chapter or verse, and will not be tested on them. It is a good idea to learn a few short quotations off by heart which you can use in examination answers. If you find this very difficult, then  being able to summarise what is said in the quotation will be helpful.



You may  use any  translation of the  holy books  to help  you  in your studies, or may use quotations which you  find in the textbook, this course or online.


The  quotations from the Quran cited in this course are from:


The  Holy   Qur'an translated  by  Abdullah  Yusu Ali  (Wordsworth

Editions Limited  ISBN 978-1-85326-782-6)




How should I study the course?



We suggest that you study all five topics included in this course for each of the two Units i.e. Unit 1: Religion and  Citizenship, and Unit

6:  Worship and  Key Beliefs. This will give  you  some choice  for the examination, and  will also build up  your confidence as these topics overlap to some extent.


Remember   that you  may  focus  on  only  one  religion for Unit  1: Religion and  Citizenship although you  can  study more than one. You must study two religions for Unit 6: Worship and  Key Beliefs again you can look at more than two, perhaps to suit the particular topic,  but it is probably not a good idea  to try to study five  or six religions!


We would suggest  that you  take  the  following approach for each lesson:


1.       Read carefully through a lesson.


2.       Make  notes  under the various headings given in the lesson, bearing in mind the religion(s) you have chosen to study.


3.       Carry out the  activities set  for the  lesson  and  then  compare your answer with the  model  answer for those  activities.   These  are given at the end of each lesson.


Remember  that the model answers  are only examples.  You may have chosen  to answer using a different religion, or in the evaluation activities, you  may  have offered  a completely different point of view from the one given in the model answer.  This is absolutely fine, but what you  should check  is that, like the  model  answer you  have provided enoug argument and  evidence  to  support the  opinions you  offer.  (See Lesson  One  for more information  about evaluation skills).


4.       If you have the AQA textbooks (see  below in ‘Further Reading’), you will find them useful in researching answers  to the activities. In any case, it is a good idea  to  read through the  chapter in the  textbook



which relates  to the  topic you  are studying.  This will  consolidate your learning.


5.       Answer  the  Self-Assessment  Test  (SAT)  for the  lesson,  and  then check  your answers against the  model  answers  at the  end  of  the lesson The second lesson on each topic ends with a Tutor-marked Assignment (TMA), which you should complete as a test on the topic and then  send your answers  to your tutor for marking.


6.       Do some research on  the  area  of the  topic you  are studying.  Read the  appropriate chapter in the  textbook if you  have it, and/or look on the websites recommended, or use search engines, e.g. Google, to find relevant information.


Making Notes



Notes are important to help you with learning and with examination revision. It is important to make  notes  from the  start of the course, so that you gradually build up your knowledge and understanding.


In  particular, you  will need  to  make  a  note  of  research  you  do, especially  connected with  the  religions you  have  chosen  to study. The kind of notes  you  make  will depend  on what sort of notes  help you.  Bullet points are often  very useful, and  you  may  find some of the  suggested  answer to  be  useful models  in  showing you  how notes can be taken. The notes must be fully understandable to you. Copying and  pasting large  chunks from the  internet may  not help you  - but summarising in note  form one or two  paragraphs from a website may be just what you need.



Tutor-marked Assignments



Throughout the course you  will find a Tutor-marked Assignment at the  end  of  each  Topic.  These  should  be  treated  as  tests   to  be assessed by your tutor. At the end of each Unit there  is also a mock examination. Your mock  examination should be completed  as part of your revision. You should send  your answers to these  tests  and mock  exams to your tutor.


When  you receive your corrected TMAs you will also receive a set of model   answers  to  the   TM questions.  These  will  give   yo an indication of what an examiner is looking for and how the questions should be answered in  a GCSE exam.  Although these  sets of model answer ma seem  quite  detailed,  they   sho ho tutors  and examiners  are  testing  skills  as  well  as  knowledge   and understanding  and  you  will find them   useful. The  AQA  website provides  you  with sample  papers  and  mark schemes.  You  should look  at  the   mark  schemes   carefully  because   this  will  help  you answer   the   questions in  sufficient  detail  to   achiev maximum marks.  Examiners undertake  leveof  response  marking on  many



questions and  you  will be able to see how  this works. You will also see that they  will credit  a wide  variety of  valid  answers and  this should give you confidence!



The Written Examinations



You  will find that by  the  time  you  reach Lesson  Eleven,  you  will have  already had  plenty  of practice in answering questions of the kind that will appear in the  examinations. The  following advice  is often  given by  examiners when  they  write  their reports on examinations, and by teachers  to their students:


·    Always answer  all parts of the question.

·    Do not write  out the questions.

·    Look carefully at the wording of the question.

·    Note the command words:

e.g.     ‘Describe’     and     ‘Outline’     ask     for    knowledge,


e.g.  Explain  or What  is meant  be’  tests knowledge

and understanding

·    Note  the  number of  marks being  given  for one  part of  the question and  check  you  are writing  the  right  amount. A two mark answer  will be shorter than a six mark answer.

·    Note   th difference   between   three  mar and   si mark evaluation questions. Both  need  reference  to religion in the answers; the  three mark  questions only need  one  point of view, the  six mark questions require two points of view to be considered. Lesson One will take  a more detailed look at this skill.

·    Do not get carried away  and  run out of time. You have four questions (with  each of their  parts) to answer in one-and-a- half  hours.  This  means   yo have  about  20  minutes  per question. This will  leave  yo about  10  minutes  to  check things through and add anything you can think of.



The Specification



You should acquire your own  copy of the  specification. This can be downloaded from


You  may  also  find it  useful and  reassuring to  look at specimen papers  and  their  mark schemes.  You  can  find these  on  the  AQA GCSE  ReligiouStudies  webpage,  under  Religious  Studies Specification B, Key Materials, Teacher Resource Bank, Question Papers and Mark Schemes’



Past papers can be found be searching the AQA website.


There  is  also  a  short  guide for  students  about  the  style  of  the question paper which is helpful. This can be downloaded at UPDATE-2011.PDF





Further Reading



The  Oxford Open  Learning Religious Studies GCSE  course is self- contained, and  all the information you need is in the course. Nevertheless, as with all subjects, you  will find it helpful to consult textbooks and/or  website to provide you  with  extra information where  you  are asked  to  research a topic, and  to  consolidate and help you learn the work you have done.




Recommended Textbooks




We recommend the  following textbooks which are studied  by many

AQA candidates:


M.  Fleming,  A.  Jordan,  P.  Smith and  D  Worden,  AQA  Religious Studie B  Religion  and   Citizenship  edited  by  C.  Bartlett  (Nelson Thornes, 2009,  ISBN  978-1-4085-0512-0)


M Fleming, A Jordan, P Smith and D Worden, AQA Religious Studies B Worship  and  Key Beliefs ed by C. Bartlett (Nelson Thornes, 2009, ISBN  978-1-4085-0517-5)


These textbooks carefully cover each topic and are written especially to meet the requirements of the AQA specification.



Useful Websites



Some of our course activities ask you to do some research to answer a question. This is particularly useful in furthering your knowledge of one or two  religions’ responses to the topic you are studying. It is recommended that  you  do  this  research regularly  as  the  course proceeds rather than leaving  all  to the  end!  In  addition  to  any textbook, you  will find various sources of information on  websites



and in your local library. Internet access