Subject Information - Religion and Philosophy

National 5

Head of Department: Mr James Burt

Course Progression: Religion and Philosophy

Religion and Philosophy focuses on the questions of meaning, value and purpose in life and is concerned with humankind's exploration of these questions. The aim of the department is to produce articulate, open-minded, tolerant pupils who are able to empathise with those who differ from themselves and are able to reflect upon their experience of life. The skills developed in Religion and Philosophy are valued by employers and universities alike.

Philosophy at National 5 is distinct from the Core Religion and Philosophy that is delivered as part of the curriculum to all students in S3-S5. Philosophy as an examination subject explores arguments in action, knowledge and doubt and moral philosophy. Core Religion & Philosophy explores different avenues and explores the existence of God, applied ethics and what it means to be human.

National 5 Philosophy is a popular choice because of the transferable and desirable suite of skills it provides. Those pupils who chose to study National 5 Philosophy will sit this level, as there is no National 4 level in this subject.

In S5 and S6, the department offers Higher Philosophy. This can be taken either as a progression from the National 5 Philosophy course or as a crash Higher in either year. There is also the option of taking Advanced Higher RMPS in S6 either as a continuation from Higher Philosophy or as a crash course.

National 5 Philosophy (S3/S4)

The National 5 Philosophy Course enables learners to develop a basic knowledge and understanding of philosophy and philosophers, as well as deepening their thinking, analytical and evaluative skills appropriate to philosophy.

Units

Unit 1: Arguments in Action

This unit aims to teach pupils to be better thinkers. It focuses on critical thinking and provides super transferable skills for all other educational avenues. Pupils study what makes a good argument, deductive and inductive arguments. Common logical fallacies and the concept of thought experiments are also explored.

Unit 2: Knowledge and Doubt

This unit explores how we acquire knowledge and the skeptical position. Pupils study the philosophical problems associated with how we arrive at knowledge and attempts by philosophers to solve these questions. Classic philosophical texts from Descartes to David Hume are studied.

Unit 3: Moral Philosophy

This unit looks at how philosophers have attempted to decide what the right course of action is when facing an ethical dilemma. The ethical theory of utilitarianism is studied and they develop their application analysis and evaluative skills here.

Coursework: Assignment

The pupils get to write a short assignment on a topic of their choice within Philosophy as part of their coursework.

Routes

National 5 Philosophy is a perfect stepping stone into Higher Philosophy and later Advanced Higher RMPS.

Higher

Head of Department: Mr James Burt

Course Progression: Religion and Philosophy

Religion and Philosophy focuses on the questions of meaning, value and purpose in life and is concerned with humankind's exploration of these questions. The aim of the department is to produce articulate, open-minded, tolerant pupils who are able to empathise with those who differ from themselves and are able to reflect upon their experience of life. The skills developed in Religion and Philosophy are valued by employers and universities alike.

Philosophy (S5) Higher

Higher Philosophy is an opportunity to study the ideas that have shaped the way we view the world. The philosophical problems of critical thinking, knowledge, existence and morality are covered, with reference to key philosophers in these areas. The Higher course expands on and goes further than the National 5 course. Higher Philosophy is an opportunity to either build on the skills from National 5 Philosophy or to take the course as a 'crash' and add it to the suite of Higher courses studied in S5 or S6. Higher Philosophy equips students with highly marketable and valuable skills of critical evaluation and independent thought. The study of philosophy at this level provides a perfect space to really develop the student's logic and reason whilst building on their communication and problem solving; essential skills for any successful academic or employment route.

Course Units

Unit 1: Arguments in Action

This unit aims to teach you to be a better thinker. Pupils study what makes a good argument, deductive and inductive arguments. Common logical fallacies and several thought experiments are also explored.

Unit 2: Knowledge and Doubt

This unit unpicks the difficulties we face in our claims to know and explores philosophical skepticism. Pupils study attempts by philosophers to solve these questions. Classic philosophical texts from Descartes and Hume are studied at length.

Unit 3: Moral Philosophy

This unit looks at two competing theories that have attempted to explain how we should decide which actions are moral. The ethical theories of utilitarianism and Kant's categorical imperative are studied.

Coursework Assignment

There is no added value unit in Higher Philosophy. There are two final exam papers that, together, constitute the final grade a student is awarded.

Advanced Higher

Head of Department: Mr James Burt

Course Progression: Religion and Philosophy

Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies (S6) Advanced Higher

In S6, the department offers Advanced Higher RMPS as the natural progression from both Higher Philosophy and Higher RMPS. For most, this is taken as a progression course from Higher but students can, and have, done very well taking this as a crash Advanced Higher. It is a very popular subject for all future courses due to its transferable skills and especially for those wishing to study religion, philosophy, medicine or law at university.

One half of the taught course is focused on medical ethics, which provides valuable preparation for medical and law interviews. This section provides an opportunity for learners to explore personhood, sanctity of life and human autonomy. Religious, secular and legal perspectives are explored on pertinent contemporary issues such as IVF provision, abortion, organ donation and end of life care.

The further 50% of the taught course is a study of metaphysics that enables pupils to look critically at philosophical arguments both for and against God. This part of the course develops a student's ability to sustain clear lines of argument with pertinent analysis and evaluation. The unit explores how effective philosophical arguments for God are, and examines questions such as; was the universe caused by a personal agent? How effective is evolutionary biology in challenging the idea of a divine designer and where does the burden of proof lie in demonstrating the existence of God? The course invites students to gain an in-depth understanding of significant ethical, theological and philosophical themes, and of society's religious and social diversity that is so relevant to the modern world.

In the Advanced Higher the topics studied include:

The Philosophy of Religion:

A detailed look at traditional and contemporary arguments for the existence of God including arguments from modern cosmology, design and the atheism movement.

Medical Ethics:

A module popular with potential medics, this deals with the ethical dilemmas surrounding new and emerging medical technologies like synthetic organs and IVF treatment. Pupils also complete a module of personal research on an aspect of Medical Ethics. This includes an opportunity for primary research.

Coursework

Students will write a 4000 word dissertation on a topic of their choice, which forms 40% of the grade at this level.

Pupils that have no background in Higher Philosophy or Higher RMPS will be invited to do some preliminary reading during the summer before starting S6 to ensure a basic grounding before the course commences.

 

 

RMPS

Head of Department: Mr James Burt

Course Progression: Religion and Philosophy

This course will contribute to learners’ understanding of the society in which they live and work by helping them to learn about and from religious  and non-religious viewpoints. The purpose of this course is to develop knowledge and understanding of religious, moral and philosophical issues and how these relate to personal or practical contexts. It will explore the questions these issues raise and the solutions or approaches they offer.

The course will further allow learners to develop further their own values and beliefs, learn to express these and act in accordance with an informed conscience when making moral decisions. Learners will be encouraged to develop an understanding and respect for different faiths, different beliefs and different values and to put their own values or beliefs into action in ways which benefit others in local, national and global communities.

Where most suitable, there is an option to be entered for the National 4 course, however all S3 students begin studying at National 5 level.

In S5 and S6, the department offers Higher RMPS. This can be taken as a progression from the National 5 RMPS or Philosophy courses or as a crash Higher in either year. Higher RMPS provides a suitable preparation for the Advanced Higher course, though we have found that Higher Philosophy in S5 tends to provide a stronger foundation.

National 5 RMPS (S3/S4)

The National 5 RMPS Course enables learners to develop a basic knowledge and understanding of key moral and religious questions, as well as deepening their thinking, analytical and evaluative skills appropriate to RMPS.

Unit Aims

The main aims of the Course are to enable learners to develop:

  • knowledge and understanding of the main beliefs and values of one world religion
  • knowledge and understanding of religious and philosophical responses to moral questions
  • knowledge and understanding of religious and philosophical responses to
  • contemporary religious debates as well as the ability to reflect on and relate to these debates
  • knowledge about religious, moral and philosophical questions to personal or practical contexts
  • a range of skills including investigation, analysis, evaluation and the ability to express beliefs and views in a reasoned manner

The course has three Units:

World Religion

In this unit, learners will develop techniques to interpret and understand the context of key texts and sources drawn from the world religion selected for study. They will study one religion from a choice of the six major world religions. The unit will develop knowledge and understanding of some of the religion’s beliefs. It will involve study of some of the values, practices and traditions of the religion selected for study.

Morality and Belief

In this unit, learners will develop techniques to enquire into, evaluate and present reasoned views about religious and non-religious responses to moral issues. They will develop knowledge and understanding of at least one contemporary moral issue from a choice.

Religious and non-religious viewpoints are explored.

Contemporary Religious Debates

In this unit, learners will develop techniques to explain and analyse at least one significant religious belief from a choice and the responses to this belief from science or philosophy.

Coursework: Assignment (20%)

The pupils get to write a short assignment on a topic of their choice within RMPS as part of their coursework.

Routes

RMPS (offered within SQA framework) is a superb step towards any study either within SQA curriculums. It is a perfect stepping stone into Highers and later Advanced Higher RMPS.

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