• Masks for creation and living creatures

Philosophy, Ethics and Religion

Staff profiles

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 Christian Union Amnesty International group and Science Fiction and Fantasy Club.

Elizabeth Hodkinson BA Religions and Theology and MA Medieval Studies University of Manchester, PGCE Religious Studies, University of Cumbria. Elizabeth joined LRGS in 2013, having previously taught in Bolton. She teaches mostly lower school REP and GCSE Religious Studies. Outside of school she is an avid reader and book collector, and is attempting to complete the '1001 Books to Read Before you Die' challenge. Before becoming a teacher she worked in a bookshop, and when she isn't in school, Elizabeth can often be found browsing the shelves at Waterstones.

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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.

Year 7
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.

Year 8
Students focus on ideas about people we admire. We look at their heroes. We then consider the lives of Muhammad, Jesus and the Buddha.

Year 9
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

We follow the AQA GCSE syllabus.

What is Religious Studies like at GCSE?

We look at two areas: Religious Belief and Practice and 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: Religious Belief and Practice

Ideas and beliefs in Christiantiy and Buddhism.

Unit 2: 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?


  • Matters of Life – medical ethics
  • Matters of Death - euthanasia               
  • Crime and Punishment – should we send people to prison?
  • Sex, Relationships and the Family

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.

Pupil comments: 
‘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.’

Sixth Form

The Religious Studies Department also teaches a separate Cambridge Pre-U examination in Philosophy.

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?

The course consists of three papers:

Paper 1- Introduction to Philosophy. Topics include Plato, Aristotle, epistemology, moral absolutism, the nature of belief and conscience, free will and determinism.

Paper 2 – Topics and key texts in Philosophy – the philosophy of religion. Topics include arguments for the existence of god, religious experience, and religion, science and life after death.

Paper 3 – Topics and key texts in Philosophy – ethics. Topics include Natural Law, Situation Ethics, Utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, Virtue ethics, existentialism, and applied ethics: war and peace, environmental ethics and business ethics.

Examination: Each paper is examined by one written paper of 2 hours taken in the summer of the second year. This is a two year course with no examinations in the first year.

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.