Key Stage 4 Religious Studies


Religious Studies is compulsory for all Year 11 and 12 students. Students have 6 periods of Religious Studies over a 2-week period. GCSE Religious Studies is very popular among students, the majority of whom achieve high levels of success in the subject. Students complete one of the three options:


  1. Subject Title: GCSE Religious Studies

Examination Board: CCEA


The CCEA GCSE Religious Studies specification encourages students to develop an enquiring, critical and reflective approach. They explore religions and beliefs, reflecting on and responding personally to fundamental questions.

This specification is unitised, so it’s possible to take part of the assessment at the end of the first year of study.

This qualification builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills developed through Religious Education in the Northern Ireland Curriculum.

There is one tier of assessment in CCEA GCSE Religious Studies. The full range of GCSE grades A*-G is available on the single tier. There is no Coursework in this subject.


Course Content:


Main areas included in the study of this course:


Section 1: Christianity through a study of the Gospel of Mark


This unit introduces students to five themes in the life and ministry of Jesus, as portrayed in Mark’s Gospel. Students enhance their knowledge and understanding of, and ability to evaluate, key passages. They should consider these passages both within the religious, political, social and cultural context of Jesus’ time, and in terms of how they influence contemporary Christian lifestyle in all its diversity. Students study the following themes:


  • The Identity of Jesus
  • Jesus the Miracle Worker
  • The Teaching of Jesus
  • The death and resurrection of Jesus
  • The role and nature of discipleship

Section 2: An Introduction to Christian Ethics


This unit introduces students to ethics in the study of religion. Students explore personal and family issues, matters of life and death, developments in bioethics, contemporary issues in Christianity and modern warfare. Students study the following topics:


·         Personal and Family Issues

·         Matters of Life and Death

·         Developments in Bioethics

·         Contemporary Issues in Christianity

·         Modern Warfare



Two written papers: (1 hour 30 minutes each)

Year 11

Paper 1 – Christianity through a study of the Gospel of Mark – 50%

Examined at the end of Year 11.


Year 12


Paper 2 – An Introduction to Christian Ethics – 50%

Examined at the end of Year 12.


Skills developed in Religious Studies:

  • analytical and strategic thinking;
  • research skills;
  • critical judgment;
  • the ability to work with abstract, conceptual ideas;
  • an ability to ‘understand both sides’ and negotiate and resolve conflict;
  • problem-solving skills;
  • leadership skills;
  • understanding of the impact of conflicting ideologies; and
  • an appreciation of human diversity, belief systems, cultural and spiritual experiences
Is this subject required at GCSE level if studying it at A Level?

Students must achieve at least Grade B in GCSE Religious Studies to study the subject at AS and A2 Level.





2.    Subject Title: OCN NI Level 2 Certificate in Religious Studies


      Examination Board: OCNNI (Open College Network Northern Ireland)


Course Content:

The OCN NI Level 2 Award and Certificate in Religious Studies is designed for learners who wish to develop knowledge and understanding in religious studies in order to make sense of religious choices people make today.  It is intended that learners will develop empathy, respect and awareness of other religious beliefs and cultural diversity.



All assessments are assessed internally. OCN Religious Studies is 100% assessment- based. In order to achieve Level 2 students must evidence 100% of the assessment criteria within their portfolios.  Students complete portfolios on nine units to achieve their overall Level 2 qualification in OCN Religious Studies:


·         Addiction

·         Charity and Religious Charities

·         Exploring Personal Society and Faith

·         Exploring Religious Traditions within Own Community

·         Life and Death Issues

·         Life of a Famous Person of Faith

·         Marriage and Divorce

·         Prejudice and Discrimination

·         World Faith



Skills developed in OCN Religious Studies

Pupils will develop investigative skills in this subject as they learn how to research and make decision in order to complete Portfolios.


Is this subject required at GCSE level if studying it at A Level?  

Pupils achieving the Level 2 qualification can progress to post 16 courses but advised to complete more vocational based courses. Students cannot complete AS and A2 Religious Studies with this qualification.









3.  Subject Title: Entry Level Certificate in Religious Studies

       Examination Board: CCEA


Course Content:


The CCEA Entry Level Religious Studies specification gives learners the opportunity to explore spiritual, moral and ethical issues. They also consider cultural issues such as religious festivals or places of worship and explore good citizenship by studying religious charities.

This qualification builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills developed through Religious Education in the Northern Ireland Curriculum.

Entry Level qualifications can help learners to expand their knowledge, increase their confidence and demonstrate achievement. This includes some who might not be ready for a course at GCSE level or equivalent.



The specification is made up of units, and learners can gain a qualification at Entry Level 1, 2 or 3. For each unit, learners produce a portfolio of work to show how they’ve met the assessment criteria; there are no exams. Students complete the following units:

  • Unit 1: The Parables of Jesus
  • Unit 2: The Easter Story
  • Unit 3: Places of Worship
  • Unit 4: Religious Festivals
  • Unit 5: Christian Sacraments or Ordinances
  • Unit 6: Famous Followers of Religion
  • Unit 7: Religious Charities
  • Unit 8: Addiction
  • Unit 9: Christian Marriage
  • Unit 10: Issues of Life and Death

Skills developed in Religious Studies:


This qualification aims to help learners prepare for working and adult life by developing employability and independent living skills. It emphasises learning by doing, with a focus on transferable skills that learners will need in a changing and dynamic working environment.

Learners develop the skills of collaborative working, debating relevant issues, problem solving, creativity, application of number and using ICT.

They also develop employability skills by engaging in group work and apply their learning in a practical context.

Those who complete this qualification can progress to other Entry Level, Level 1, Level 2 or GCSE qualifications, or to related training courses.








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