Religious Studies

Meet the team
  • Mr J Johnstone, Head of Department BD Hons Aberystwyth
  • Ms L Goldwater, 2nd in Department BA Hons Lancaster
  • Ms J McClean , Assistant Head, Head of Sixth form, Religious Studies BA Hons at Lancaster University, MEd in School Leadership at Cambridge University.
  • Mrs S Jones,  BA Hons Theology and Philosophy St Marys University London


“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates


With religious and ethical issues frequently in the news agenda, Religious Studies is a relevant, engaging and challenging subject.  Religious Studies gives students valuable insights into the diverse beliefs, ethics and opinions both nationally and globally today. It can help with the personal development of students, supporting engagement with the spiritual, moral, social and ultimate questions that can surface in their lives and communities. In tackling difficult questions, it provides students with insight that can work to challenge stereotypes, promote cohesion and tackle extremism.

Whether it is KS3, GCSE or A Level, our intent is also to enable students to become religiously, theologically and philosophically literate so that they can engage in life in an increasingly diverse society. Our aim is to assist our pupils in gaining shared human understanding, developing personal identity and searching for meaning in the context of evaluating different viewpoints across the diverse religious, theological & philosophical spectrum. 

Key Stage 3

The Religious Studies Department adopts the ‘Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus (2017-2022) for Religious Education’ as a basis for its KS3 curriculum. As a general overview pupils consider philosophical questions about the existence and non-existence of God; key religious events (including festivals, pilgrimage, worship and rites of passage); prejudice & discrimination in the context of Judaism and the relevance of key religious beliefs and practices today e.g. the Parables of Jesus; the Sermon on the Mount; the Five Pillars of Faith and Hindu beliefs about life after death etc.

Key Stage 4

Students are following the new GCSE ‘AQA Religious Studies A Specification’ (8062). The focus of this exam is the two principal religions of Christianity and Islam. Students can expect to explore in detail a variety of themes including Christian and Muslim beliefs about crime and punishment; war, peace and conflict etc. They will also explore the key beliefs & practices associated with Christianity and Islam e.g. the nature of God, worship & festivals etc.

For those students in Year 10 and 11 who do not study Religious Studies at GCSE there is a compulsory Religious Studies programme delivered by Religious Studies specialists. There is no accreditation at the end of it. Please refer to the Religious Studies curriculum map for more details.

Key Stage 5

Students are following the new GCE ‘AQA Religious Studies Specification’ (7062). This syllabus allows students to explore and evaluate philosophical arguments for the existence of God (Design, Cosmological & Ontological arguments etc.); philosophical problems about evil and suffering; religious language; miracles and life after death. Students also study ethical theories (Utilitarianism & Situation Ethics); Meta ethics; issues of human and animal life after death and free will & moral responsibility etc.

Finally, we are a high achieving department with a history of excellent exam results and a reputation for encouraging students to explore and enquire.


Namibia, including the Tropic of Capricorn, Namib Desert and Africa Cheetah Reserve (July 2016)

Standing in front of Mount Cotpaxi near Quito; fishing for piranha in the Amazon and swimming with sealions in the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador & Galapagos Islands, July 2013)

Literally ‘in the lion’s den’; feeding elephants at Knysna and Table Mountain from Robben Island (South Africa, July 2011)

What careers and University courses can Religious Studies lead to?

Religious Studies: Philosophy and Ethics is a good choice for ambitious students seeking careers with international organisations, the Civil Service, law firms and accountancy/consulting firms, and leading businesses especially in information technology and environmental sectors. The key skills of understanding ideas and arguments, clear and critical thinking and writing, and making rational decisions, are highly valued at senior management levels.

What the students say

“A Level made me think about ideas in a new way- it challenged what I thought I knew for certain and raised questions about the world, knowledge and reasoning that I would never have thought to ask.” Yr 13 collective

“I really enjoy looking at religion through a different perspective rather than just the facts. It’s about the world around me and the topics are really interesting and we have fantastic discussions.”  Sam 7M

Exam boards

GCSE Religious Studies A

A Level Religious Studies Philosophy and Ethics


Crash Course Philosophy

Alister McGrath interview on Does God Exist, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Closer to the Truth

Curriculum Map


Mr J Johnstone (Head of Religious Studies)

School Contact Info

Dame Alice Owen’s School

Dugdale Hill Lane
Potters Bar

01707 643441
[email protected]

Mon – Fri 8:00A.M. – 5:00P.M.

Social Info