Philosophy & Religion
Why Study Philosophy and Religion?
As a Woodard school, the King's philosophy and religion department is a respected academic department and is regarded as central to the Woodard vision - an awareness of the reality of spirituality as a fundamental human characteristic. Not only that, the absolute necessity of tolerance and mutual respect, based on knowledge and understanding, in our multi-faith society. All pupils study this subject in a non-judgemental, open and vibrant context. It is also an increasingly popular option at A Level.
Face to Faith
All pupils follow the Face to Faith programme of philosophy and religion for two years. The Woodard Corporation endorses this programme as an excellent preparation for life in a multi-faith world. The programme brings our pupils together with young people from all over the world using digital technology. Young people of different religions and cultures learn directly with, from and about each other.
Face to Faith prepares students for global citizenship in the 21st century. Through facilitated dialogue and the "community of enquiry" method, students practise the key skills of conflict negotiation and resolution so that they are able to hold meaningful and respectful inter-faith discussions – even if their views diverge. Using video-conferencing facilities and a secure online community, pupils work together to investigate specific global issues such as the environment, health, art, poverty and wealth; discuss a range of opinions, values and beliefs, and explore the reasons for similar and different world views.
Face to Faith can connect pupils at King's with schools as far afield as Australia, Canada, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Philippines, Singapore, UAE and the US.
The Face to Faith programme is accredited by the International GCSE, offered in 140 countries by Cambridge Assessment and is recognised by the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.
It is common to go through life in the shadows of reality, convinced that pleasure is the only purpose of life and happiness the goal of existence. Interestingly, there is no single religious leader in the world, past or present, who preaches 'happiness.' Why is this? It is because they claim that being fully human is far more than just about being happy. Being a fulfilled and complete individual means taking time to consider the big questions about life, its meaning and its purpose. You will certainly die, but how you spend your life and what you do with the time you have are matters of choice. This course examines, in an open and academic environment, how such decisions are made, and what governs such life choices.
The course is designed to offer an academic approach to the study of religion and to be accessible to students of any religious persuasion or none. There is no need for you to have passed GCSE Religious Studies to do this course, but it is essay based so you will need good English skills. Otherwise all that is required is a willingness to be open-minded and intellectually challenged.
A Level Syllabus
The AS course includes a module on ethics. This will include the examination of different ethical theories and how these are applied to contemporary issues such as:
- Medical Ethics
- Genetics, cloning and embryo research
The A2 course comprises two modules: Philosophy of Religion and the Synoptic module.The former introduces pupils to an academic and philosophical approach to the central questions of religion.
- Why is there something rather than nothing?
- Can anyone prove that God exists?
- What about those who say they experience God? Can they prove it or is there always another explanation?
- Reasons for atheism
- If God is good, why is there so much suffering and evil in the world?
- Body, soul and personal identity
The synoptic module is an opportunity for in-depth academic study of philosophy, ethics and religion.
Each module is accompanied by a handbook written by experienced A Level teachers. Each part of the course is covered with preparatory reading material, which will support and supplement your class time and assignments.
The Advanced Extension
Religious Studies is one of the few subjects chosen by the government to offer an Advanced Extension Award. This is a 'world class' examination paper only made available to students in rigorously academic subjects. To pass at this level, pupils sit an additional paper which will require greater depth of understanding than at A2. Pupils do not have to take this option to achieve a full A Level.
Religion and philosophy is a very useful subject for those who intend to join a profession in which they will be required to make decisions and value judgements. Those interested in careers in law, medicine or teaching might find it particularly valuable, but it is a popular course for any pupils who are interested in examining life's questions.
Symposiums in ancient Greece were places where people could eat, drink and discuss ideas together. Although some discussions were casual, many were a source of real debate and would often feature daring thinkers and controversial subjects, trying to solve the answers to our deepest questions through the proliferation of ideas.
Among its aims are:
- To raise the profile of Philosophy and Religion regionally and nationally.
- To advance professional relationships in schools, universities and interfaith organisations.
- To strengthen the distinctive contribution of the South West to the national field of Philosophy and Religion.
These aims are currently being met through an annual meeting where members come together to dialogue through the medium of debate or lecture. We have in our membership teachers, researchers, students, chaplains, and other interested parties. Some institutions associated with the Symposium include: the University of Exeter, Southampton University, the Canford Group of schools, the Woodard group, and several others schools, colleges and Higher Education institutions across the South West.
The Symposium was founded in 2009 by Julie Arliss and Jarrett Wilson, and is indebted to the patronage of Professor Keith Ward (Regius professor Emeritus of Christ Church Oxford) and the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt. Rev Peter Price. Previous speakers to the Symposium include Julian Baggini, Roger Trigg and Stephen Law.
King's College kindly sponsors and plays host to the Symposium, and meetings are held in the historic Woodard Room. Members can invite guests to events and also recommend them for membership. If you have not yet been invited to join and would like to become involved please email Jarrett Wilson at Jarrett_Wilson@hotmail.com.
Father Mark Smith
Father Mark Smith is our Chaplain and he is a full-time member of staff who lives with his family on the school campus. The Chaplaincy is regarded as a vital touchstone for everything that happens at King's and, as a Woodard School, the role of the Chaplain is an incarnational one - reminding the school community of the loving presence of God permeating all we do.
The Chaplain teaches all pupils for at least three years and interacts with them formally and informally in a wide range of other ways. Some examples include:
- Confirmation classes
- Friday afternoons working in the school mini-farm which is run by the Chaplain
- The Philosothon – a philosophy competition discussing the 'big' questions
- Mindfulness meditation practice
- The Year Group Forum
- Individual counselling