Theology, Philosophy and Ethics (TPE)

RS, Theology & PhilosophyAt Monkton we encourage our pupils to ask big questions, to examine evidence, to listen to one another’s answers and to critique them respectfully. In this way we prepare the ground for the exploration of the specific religious, philosophical and ethical questions that form the basis of both the GCSE and A Level courses, as well as for life beyond Monkton.

The approach to TPE adopted at Monkton provides the ideal preparation for the style of learning that students will meet at university. In addition to this, it plays its part in enabling our students to become confident young men and women, able to respect the views of others, to disagree well, to be open to amend their own views and to stand up for their beliefs. Throughout the year all students have the opportunity to take part in Philosothon competitions (collaborative, creative thinking debates), trips, discussion events and to attend lectures from visiting speakers.

The Department

Religious Studies and TPE are taught by Esther Youlten (Head of Department), Rev Hutchinson and Eleanor Page. As a department, we seek to equip pupils with the skills needed to face the modern world, whilst at the same time allowing them space to develop their own faith position.

Through our lessons and extracurricular activities we prepare our pupils to take their place in the world as confident individuals, clear of their own views, respectful of the views of others, able to know when they don’t know and able to form healthy and enriching relationships with a wide variety of people in a range of different contexts.

Career paths that lead naturally on from studying Religious Studies or TPE include law, diplomacy, business, medicine, teaching - almost anything that requires you to think clearly, analyse arguments and ideas, be consistent and intentional in the way you make decisions and to engage with a range of moral and spiritual issues.

Year 9

What will I learn?

Through our lessons and extracurricular activities, we prepare them to take their place in the world as confident individuals, clear of their own views, respectful of the views of others, and able to form healthy and enriching relationships with a wide variety of people in a range of different contexts.

The aim that underlies all that we do in the Department is to teach pupils how to think, not what to think.  This begins in Year 9 where pupils are introduced to a range of philosophical and ethical questions and invited to approach them from different perspectives. Pupils are also introduced to some of the key teachings of Christianity and given an opportunity to look closely at the evidence. We want all of our pupils to realise that they each have a worldview so that they can hold it consciously and be open to examining it as they go through life making new discoveries all the time.

Years 10 and 11

GCSE Theology, Philosophy & Ethics (OCR)

In the first year of study, pupils investigate the beliefs, teachings and practices of both Christianity and Islam. Pupils explore the differences within each religion and are encouraged to seek reasons for, and to evaluate, these inter-faith differences.  

The second part of the GCSE syllabus is called Religion, Philosophy & Ethics in the modern world (from a Christian perspective).  We tackle a broad range of contemporary moral issues, including relationships, gender issues, religious dialogue and Christian understandings of equality. Pupils have the opportunity to study some key questions within Christian philosophy, investigating arguments for and against the existence of God and the nature of reality. This paves the way for study of the ethical issues of war and peace in both an historic and modern context.  Pupils also explore a number of challenges for religion, including secularism as a mode of thought and being.

How is the course structured and assessed?

The course runs over two years and students are examined at the end of Year 11. There is no coursework. Students will sit three papers: Christianity (1 hour - worth 25% of marks), Islam (1 hour - worth 25% of marks) and Religion Philosophy & Ethics from a Christian perspective (2 hours - worth 50% of marks).


Year 10 - General Course: Belief & Critical Thinking

All pupils in year 10 have the opportunity to spend one lesson per week engaging with questions of faith and religion. Pupils follow a varied and interactive programme of debates, discussions, presentations and research projects on the way that different religions and worldviews approach ethical and philosophical questions. The aim of this year is to encourage pupils to consider the role that faith plays in both public and private life and to reflect on their own faith position as it develops.

Years 12 and 13

A-Level Theology, Philosophy & Ethics

What do I need before starting this course? 

There is no need to have a GCSE in this subject, or to have any particular faith. All you need is a willingness to read and research widely, a mind that is interested in finding out more about the world, and a desire to develop articulacy in expressing your views and ideas.

What will I learn? 

The modules we study at A Level, are Philosophy of Religion, Religious Ethics and New Testament Studies. You will develop a wide range of skills as you research, analyse, debate and craft responses to a fascinating selection of topics. You will ultimately learn about yourself as well, as you uncover the reasons behind your own thinking and decision making processes. This course will prepare you for university degrees such as Medicine, Law, Business, English and many others. More importantly, it will prepare you to take a considered approach to life’s big questions. 

In Philosophy students consider the foundations of modern philosophy, classical proofs for the existence of God, religious experience as a basis for belief, the problem of evil, the works of key scholars (some of whom you will have the opportunity to meet) and whether or not it is possible to speak meaningfully about God.

In the Ethics course students explore some of the most influential approaches to morality and apply them to a range of contemporary topics such as the environment, war and peace, sexual and medical ethics.

In the New Testament paper, students consider the social, historical and religious context of the New Testament, the person of Jesus and ways of interpreting texts and scripture. This course gives students a wide range of critical skills that will stand them in good stead as they consider further education.

In all of these areas of study students are encouraged to engage creatively with the work of the thinkers on the syllabus and, as well as mastering the detail,  to think independently in the light of it. To this end classroom debate is a regular feature of our teaching and learning, with students expected to carry out research outside the classroom in preparation for debate and discussion.

How is this course assessed? 

There is no coursework in this subject. You will take 3 exams at the end of Year 13.


Where next?