Stuart Langhorn Head of Department BA Lancaster University, PGCE St Martin's College
Stuart taught in various seaside spots across the north west before joining LRGS in 2011. Stuart teaches the ethics parts of the sixth form course. Outside of school Stuart eloped to get married in India. He was also Leader of Lancaster City Council for two years and continues to teach about politics in the Sixth Form. He runs the Amnesty International group and Science Fiction and Fantasy Club.
Nicola McDermott Teacher of Philosophy and Religious Studies
BA Philosophy & Religious Studies with Comparative Religion, University of Manchester
PGCE, Religious Education, Edge Hill University
Nicola joined LRGS in 2012. Throughout her academic career, she has had a keen interest in rowing, as a member of a sculling quad at Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School and also as a coach under the expertise of the late Peter Little, formerly a rower for the Royal Navy 1st Eight.
Nicola has taught Religious Studies and Philosophy at schools across Merseyside and has also worked for Manchester City Council, Stockport Council and Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, offering Equality and Diversity workshops to staff and encouraging community cohesion in the local communities.
Nicola teaches Religion, Ethics and Philosophy throughout the lower school and teaches Philosophy and Religious Studies at A-level. She is responsible for the Philosophy of Religion aspect of the Sixth Form Religious Studies course.
Lower School Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
The department aims to make the study of philosophy, ethics and religion exciting and relevant for our students. As well as learning about the phenomena of religion, students are encouraged to reflect upon their own journey through life. All of the major world faiths are considered in the course.
Students begin the year by being shipwrecked on a desert island. This leads to work looking at rules and leadership, the nature of God and belief. Students also consider the book of Genesis and ideas about creation.
Students focus on ideas about people we admire. We look at their heroes. We then consider the lives of Muhammad, Jesus and the Buddha.
Students consider a range of ethical issues and the responses of believers to them. Topics we look at include war and peace and human rights.
GCSE Religious Studies
What is Religious Studies like at GCSE?
We look at two areas: Philosophy and Ethics. Philosophy is the study of ideas and the way that we think. Ethics is the study of how we decide what is the right way to behave. In the lessons we will do a lot of discussion work and consider a whole range of contemporary issues. The course will teach you to think and to look at the world in new and exciting ways.
What will I be studying?
You will do two units. Each unit has a one exam of 1 hour 30 minutes at the end of the course.
Unit 1: Philosophy
- The problem of evil – why do we suffer?
- Immortality – what happens after you die?
- The existence of God – is there a God?
- Revelation – does God really speak to people?
- Miracles – do these events happen?
- Science and religion – can you be a scientist and believe in God?
Unit 2: Ethics
- Matters of Life – medical ethics
- Matters of Death - euthanasia
- Religion and Drugs – should drugs be legal?
- Crime and Punishment – should we send people to prison?
- Rich and Poor in UK – should we help the poor?
- Rich and Poor in the world – is it fair that some have plenty and others nothing?
What skills do I need?
You need to be able to think about ideas with an open mind. You should enjoy discussing different points of view and giving your opinion.
What subjects go well with Religious Studies?
Humanities like History and Geography. Any of the Arts subjects and English Literature. Science and Maths make a good fit too.
If I take Religious Studies what can I do next?
One route is to take Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-level. This can lead to a university course in a variety of areas: politics, philosophy, law, journalism, publishing, social sciences and arts subjects. Lots of jobs look for people who can think and consider new ideas.
‘Religious Studies makes you think deeper about your life and your own beliefs about the world.’
‘I do not believe in God but Religious Studies is my favourite subject. I like learning about other people’s faiths and stuff in the real world.’
Religious Studies - Sixth Form
More and more students, nationwide, are opting to take Religious Studies at this level. Study in the Sixth Form involves the development of skills of critical analysis and thinking.
What is Philosophy and Ethics?
Ethics is the study of how we decide what is the right way to behave. In this unit we will look at the theories of ethical philosophers and how they apply to a selection of real life situations. Applied ethics considers how you determine what is the right way to behave in a range of contemporary issues.
Philosophy reflects on the big questions of life – the ones that cannot be answered by science and observation. Questions like: why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Why do people suffer? Can people really experience God? Is there a life after death?
Lessons involve a lot of discussion and debate. You will be expected to join in these debates and to keep up with reading. You must be interested in the world around you and keep your knowledge of contemporary issues up to date. A good level of general knowledge is expected. You will be taught to how take notes and how to write essays.
Philosophy and Ethics aims to develop the academic study of religious experience and idea. It does not presume any faith background in those taking the subject. Instead an enquiring, critical and empathetic approach is used.
Students are expected to develop research and self-study skills. The ability to produce a coherent argument and to be able to communicate it to others is central to this course.
Unit 1 Foundations
Philosophy - Arguments for the existence of God; evil and suffering; mysticism.
Ethics - Ethical Theories: utilitarianism, situation ethics. Applied Ethics: sexual ethics and the ethics of war.
1 written exam (1hr 45min) 50% AS 25% A-level
Unit 2 Investigations
Controlled assessment chosen by the student. You will know the question before the exam and will have prepared your answer. We usually look at the sociology of cults and sects.
1 written exam (1 hr 15min) 50% AS 25% A-level
Unit 3 Developments
Philosophy - religious experiences, life after death, religious language.
Ethics - Ethical Theories: natural moral law, virtue ethics, Kant’s deontology. Applied Ethics: justice and crime.
1 written exam (1hr 45min) 25% A-level
Unit 4 Implications
Textual analysis prepared before the exam
1 written exam (1hr 15min) 25% A-level
The Religious Studies Department also teaches a separate A-level in Philosophy (AQA).
Why study Philosophy?
You might be asking yourself ‘What is the point of studying Philosophy?’ One of the answers is that it will help you to become a great thinker. In Philosophy you will consider abstract subjects and apply them to everyday life. Philosophy is about using rational argument and logical thinking to shine a light on life’s big questions. In doing so, you’ll get a greater understanding of the world we live in, and yourself.
What does the course consist of?
Unit 1 An introduction to Philosophy 1:
- Reason and experience – this asks questions about how we know what is true and real.
- Political philosophy – why should I be governed? Should I obey the law?
- Moral Philosophy – why should I be good?
- Persons – what does it mean to be an individual person?
Unit 2 An introduction to Philosophy 2:
- Knowledge and the external world – can our senses tell us what is real?
- Tolerance – is a liberal society a good idea?
- The value of art – is art important in our society?
- Free will and determinism – are we free to act how we want?
Unit 3 Key themes in Philosophy:
- Philosophy of the mind – what is the mind? Is it separate from the physical world?
- Political Philosophy – how should we order society? What is a fair society?
- Moral Philosophy – are there moral truths?
- Philosophy of Religion – what is belief?
Unit 4 Philosophical Problems:
- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty – a study of this important text.
Each unit is examined by one written paper of 1 hour 30 mins taken in the summer.
What skills will I learn?
Lessons involve discussion and debate. They will help you gain a number of new skills:
- How to think for yourself and question the norm
- How to examine information in a critical way
- How to form judgements based on clear evaluation of information
- How to put your point across clearly.
What can Philosophy lead to?
Philosophy is a popular subject to study at university. It is often combined with politics and ethics. Philosophy will fine-tune your reasoning so that your enhanced intellectual skills can be used in a range of careers: law, politics, civil service, journalism, advertising, education – to name a few.
What subjects go well with Philosophy?
The simple answer is any. Philosophy has links to Religious Studies, History, English Literature and Art. However, it makes an ideal match with science and mathematics as it involves thinking about ideas.