Subject Overview

Key Stage 3

Years 8, 9 and 10 students have 4 classes of Religious Education over a 2-week period. All students follow the same Scheme of Work, based upon the ‘Fully Alive’ Catholic Religious Education Programme. Work is differentiated to ensure that all children can access learning. Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is also taught through Religious Education at Key Stage 3.


Key Stage 4

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:

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.

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

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

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.

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.

Key Stage 5

Following the CCEA GCE Religious Studies specification offers an academic approach to the study of religion, ethics and philosophy. It gives students opportunities to develop their knowledge and understanding of religion.

This specification is available at two levels: AS and A2. Students can take the AS units plus the A2 units for a full GCE A level qualification. They can also choose to take the AS course as a stand-alone qualification.

At AS level, students choose two units. Students who continue to A2 study a further two units.


AS Level

AS1: Introduction to the Gospel of Luke

Assessment for this unit consists of a written examination based on the following themes:

  • Understanding the Gospel of Luke
  • Key narratives in Luke’s Gospel
  • The Kingdom of God in the parables and miracles in Luke’s Gospel
  • Key themes in Luke’s Gospel
  • Other Aspects of Human Experience


AS4: The Origins and Development of the Christian Church up to 325AD

Assessment for this unit consists of a written examination, based on the following themes:

  • The development of the Early Church
  • Developing Christian belief and practice
  • Early Christian writers
  • Constantine and the Church
  • Other Aspects of Human Experience

Students complete two externally assessed written papers, 1 hour 20 minutes each, each worth 50% of AS and 20% of A level (a total of 40% of A level).


A2 Level

A21: Themes in the Synoptic Gospels

Assessment for this unit consists of a written examination, based on the following themes:

Understanding the Synoptic Tradition

The person of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels

The Passion and Resurrection Narratives in the Synoptic Gospels

Synoptic Assessment Theme: Religious Texts, Authority and Interpretation

A24: Themes in the Early Church and the Church Today

Assessment for this unit consists of a written examination, based on the following themes:

  • Church Authority and Division
  • Early Christian Literature
  • Belief and Belonging in the Modern World
  • Synoptic Assessment Theme: Faith, Morality and the State.

Students complete two externally assessed written papers, 2 hours each, each worth 50% of A2 level, 30% of A level (a total of 60% of A level).

CCEA GCE Religious Studies