Religious Studies Curriculum Overview

Welcome to Religious Studies at Noel-Baker Academy

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom”


In Religious Studies, we want our students to have the opportunity to explore the diverse and multicultural nature of contemporary British Society. At Noel-Baker Academy, students will be encouraged in their RS lessons to learn about different religions, beliefs, worldviews and traditions, while exploring their own beliefs and questions of meaning. It challenges students to reflect on, consider, analyse, interpret and evaluate issues of truth, belief, faith and ethics and to communicate their responses. Whilst the main religious tradition in Great Britain is Christianity, students will also look at world religions, to develop an understanding of how different faiths can help shape our culture, and the impact that it, and religious figures, have had on society. Students will also explore non-religious world views, such as Humanism and atheism, to gain a greater understanding of the wider world we live in.

Year 7 Currciulum Overview


Unit 1: Early Beliefs

Students will learn where religious beliefs came from so that they can understand religious belief today.  They will learn two theories about how religion developed – Durkheim’s and Aslan’s.  They will then learn about the belief of animism as the earliest form of religious belief, and how the influence of this can be seen in shamanism and mythology.  This leads into beliefs about the soul where they will learn a range of worldviews about the soul.  Finally, we learn about Ancient Greek myths and students will interpret what morals the myths are trying to teach humanity.


Unit 2: Old Testament

In this unit, students will explore key themes in religion, such as creation, sin, rules, sacrifice and salvation.  They will learn key stories related to these themes in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.  These themes and teachings will be revisited throughout KS3 and GCSE.  They will begin the unit by learning about the Bible itself and learning how to use a Bible reference. 


Unit 3: Christianity

In this unit, we build upon prior knowledge of the Old Testament, particularly the themes of sin and salvation.  Students will learn the origins of Christianity – the birth, life and death of Jesus.   We look at how Jesus taught in Parables, with some examples, and also explore his miracles and why these are important to Christians. Students will investigate, through two scholars, whether Jesus’ resurrection really happened.  Christian beliefs about the afterlife are introduced, building upon knowledge learnt about the soul in Unit 1.

Year 8 Currciulum Overview


Unit 1: Islam

At the start of Year 8, we continue to build upon knowledge of world religions by learning about a second Abrahamic faith, Islam.  Students will learn about the origins of the religion, key beliefs, such as Tawhid, Risalah and Akhirah and the place of worship, the Mosque.  Students will also explore key practices in Islam – the Five Pillars.


Unit 2: Introduction to Philosophy and Ethics

This unit introduces students to two scholarly disciplines in RS – philosophy and moral philosophy (ethics).  Students will learn what philosophy is through exploring some ultimate questions.  They will investigate a range of evidence and beliefs regarding God’s existence, including religious experiences and the problem of evil and suffering.  Finally, students will be introduced to the concepts of absolute and relative morality, exploring a theory for each of these:  the Divine Command Theory and Utilitarianism.


Unit 3:  Buddhism

Students will end Year 8, learning about a Dharmic faith, Buddhism.  Students will learn about the origins of the Buddhism and the story of the Buddha.  They will move onto learn about key beliefs in Buddhism, such as the Eightfold Path and beliefs about the afterlife.  Students will look at Buddhist ethics in the Five Precepts and also how Buddhists worship.

Year 9 Curriculum Overview


Unit 1:  Medical Ethics

This unit builds upon learning in Years 7 and 8 (learning about world religions and ethics).   It explores Medical Ethics through the following key issues: the value of life; abortion; cloning and euthanasia.  Students will learn these contemporary medical issues through worldviews, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Humanism (non-religious).  Students will be able to analyse and evaluate these worldviews and express their own views on these ethical issues.


Unit 2:  Ethics of War and Peace

This unit builds upon prior learning about ethics and worldviews.   It introduces students to differing religious and non-religious attitudes towards war and conflict.  They will explore ideas about whether war can be justified in Christianity and Islam, and will apply this learning to the example of World War I.  Student will then learn about the theme of pacifism and non-violence and answer the question ‘Pacifism does not work.’   Finally, this unit looks at Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, ending with a philosophical question, ‘What causes people to do evil things?’

Year 10 Curriculum Overview


Unit 1:  Islam Beliefs

This unit builds upon prior learning in KS3 about the religion of Islam.  Students will learn about the key themes which are the core beliefs and authority in Islam.  Key beliefs in Sunni and Shi’a Islam are learnt: Tawhid; the nature of God; the nature of angels and their role; predestination and Akhirah.  Students will then learn about the theme of authority; this  involves learning about: the nature, role and importance of prophets; the holy books, including how the Qur’an was revealed and the imamate in Shi’a Islam.


Unit 2:  Islam Practices

Students will then build upon their learning in Unit 1 in Year 10 by exploring the key themes of Islamic faith, worship, duties and festivals.   Students will know the similarities and differences in Islamic practices between Sunni and Shi’a Islam throughout this unit of study.  The theme of worship involves learning about the pillars of Shahadah (declaration of faith) and Salah (prayer).  The duties of Zakah (giving alms), Khums in Shi’a Islam, Sawm (fasting in the month of Ramadan) and Hajj (pilgrimage) explore Islamic practices in the world today.  Different understanding of jihad and three festivals, as well as their importance in Islam, are studied (Id-ul-Adha, Id-ul-Fitr and Ashura).


Unit 3:  Christian Beliefs

This third unit at GCSE again builds upon prior learning at KS3 regarding the faith of Christianity.  Students will learn in depth Christian beliefs about the nature of God.  They will also study the problem of evil and two theodicies when considering Christian responses to evil and suffering.   Students will then study different beliefs about creation.  The key theme of the afterlife involves studying different Christian beliefs about resurrection, the Day of Judgement, heaven, purgatory and hell.


Unit 4:  Christian Practices

In this unit, students will learn the differing ways Christians practise and demonstrate their beliefs.  The first part will explore the key themes of worship, including sacraments, pilgrimage and festivals.  The second part will explore the role of the Church in the local (food banks and street pastors) and worldwide community (mission, evangelism, persecution and poverty).  It is important to learn why these practices are important to Christians and how they link to their beliefs.  Similar and contrasting practices will be learnt in this unit, such as Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant practices.

Year 11 Curriculum Overview


Unit 1:  Theme D – Religion, peace and conflict

In this unit students will study religious (mainly Christian and Muslim worldviews), philosophical and ethical arguments relating to the following issues:
-Violence, protest and terrorism;
-Reasons for war, including religion and belief as a cause of war and violence;
-The just war theory and holy war;
-Beliefs about pacifism, including peacemaking;
-Weapons of mass destruction;
-Religious responses to victims of war, including the work of one organisation.


Unit 2:  Theme E – Religion, crime and punishment

In this unit students will study religious (mainly Christian and Muslim worldviews), philosophical and ethical arguments relating to the following issues:
– Good and evil actions;
-Reasons for crime;
– Views about differing types of crimes, including hate crimes, theft and murder;
– Aims of punishment, including prison, community service and corporal punishment;
– Forgiveness;
-The death penalty.


Unit 3:  Theme B – Religion and life

In this unit students will study religious (mainly Christian and Muslim worldviews), philosophical and ethical arguments relating to the following issues:
·      Beliefs about the origins and value of the universe, including scientific theories;
·      Duty of stewardship and the use and abuse of the environment and natural resources;
·      The use and abuse of animals for food and experiments;
·      Beliefs about the origins and value of human life, including scientific theories;
·      The concepts of the sanctity of life and quality of life, applied to both the issues of abortion and euthanasia;
·      Beliefs about death and the afterlife.


Unit 4:  Theme A – Relationships and families

In this unit students will study religious (mainly Christian and Muslim worldviews), philosophical and ethical arguments relating to the following issues:
·         Human sexuality, including same-sex marriage;
·         Sexual relationships before and outside of marriage (adultery);
·         Contraception and family planning;
·         Nature and purpose of marriage;
·         Cohabitation;
·         Divorce;
·         Nature and purpose of families;
·         Contemporary family issues, including same-sex parents and polygamy;
·         The roles of men and women;
·         Gender equality, prejudice and discrimination.