Religious Studies Preparation
A level Reading, Resources & Research
Thinking of taking R.S at A level?
Here are a range of texts and websites for you to explore and investigate. Be sure you want to study the course by knowing what is on the course. Perhaps speak to friend who may already be doing the A level to get a sense of what it’s like and what is required.
Research, Plato and the cave, Aristotle and the Final Cause, Descartes idea of ‘I think therefor I am and other Philosophers. Look at different Ethical theories such as Utilitarianism, Natural Law, Virtue Ethics and Situation Ethics.
You will need to read a variety of resource materials across the three components papers. It is important that not only are these read, and you make detailed notes, but also that their content is as familiar to you as breathing, eating and drinking! Those of you with aspirations of the highest grade (that’s you!) should aim to read much more extensively. The more you read, the more your mastery of the language of this subject, and ability to argue coherently and perceptively, will develop.
The specification lists suggested reading for each topic. In addition, there are some general books that you will be expected to read and make use of:
- Oxford A Level Religious Studies for OCR: L Ahluwalia and R Bowie
- OCR Philosophy of Religion for AS and A2: M Taylor
- The Philosophy of Religion: P Cole
- OCR Philosophy and Ethics AS: Taylor, Eyre, Knight
- OCR Religious Ethics for AS and A2: J Mayled
- Ethical Theory: M Thompson
- Ethics Matters: P and C Vardy
- Understanding Religious Ethics: R Wright
- Christianity – A Very Short Introduction: Linda Woodhead
- History of Christianity: Nick Page
- Teach Yourself Christianity: John Young
There are a number of excellent websites and online resources that you should make use of. The official OCR A level RS page is:
Our top recommendations…
https://peped.org/ Peped - a site aimed at the OCR specification, managed by a highly respected RE writer. The site provides a full range of materials from simple summaries to challenging extended reading. It also contains excellent revision materials including sample essays and is organised in-line with the three components of the course.
https://divinityphilosophy.net/ Logos – a blog created by the author and scholar Charlotte Vardy specifically for the OCR specification, providing excellent essay advice, model answers and an exhaustive list of possible exam questions from all three components of the course.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/ BBC Religion and Ethics website – a good clear start on any religious topic
www.manybooks.net Downloadable philosophy books – includes a number of key thinkers named on the specification
https://www.audiopi.co.uk/ Audiopi – free access to podcasts on Christian beliefs and practices (ask for the username and password if you have forgotten it)
https://thepanpsycast.com/ Pan Psycast – philosophy and ethics podcasts
http://www.nigelwarburton.typepad.com/philosophy_bites/ Philosophy and ethics podcasts – one of ITunes most popular picks
http://www.open2.net/ethicsbites/ Open University resource – podcasts on ethical theories and applied topics
https://rationalreligion.co.uk/ Rational Religion – various articles and videos responding to atheist criticisms of religion
https://ethics.academyconferences.com/ Academy Conferences – Q&A videos on various philosophy, ethics and DCT topics at the bottom of the page
http://www.cmf.org.uk/students/ The Christian Medical Fellowship is a useful place to research medical ethics, from an evangelical perspective (type a keyword into the search engine)
http://www.andygustafson.net/net/Businessresources.htm Thorough on Business Ethics
www.newadvent.org The Catholic Encyclopedia
http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/ The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
http://plato.stanford.edu/ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
http://www.epistemelinks.com/index.aspx A comprehensive ethics and philosophy site
http://www.classicspage.com Guide to Roman and Greek thinkers
Aimed at A Level Students
www.philosophicalinvestigations.co.uk An exceptional site aimed at AS/A2 students
http://www.missbadgersphilosophysite.com/blog/tag/evolution Another exceptional site aimed at AS/A2 students
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtOLJIWPWAcxFa37iQOUtOA Engaging revision videos on a range of philosophy topics
http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/ Good overview of key ideas
www.tutor2u.net Range of A Level revision notes (don’t rely on this though!)
http://ethics.sandiego.edu/ Ethics Updates
http://www.jcu.edu/philosophy/gensler Ethics exercises
http://www.cep.unt.edu/ Environmental Ethics
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~worc0337/phil_topics.html Philosophy sites by topic
For a library of links on all parts of our theory syllabus
http://www.justiceharvard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=9&Itemid=5#ep2 Michael Sandel's excellent lectures are available online, covering most of our course. Click this link to access a summary of the lectures
http://www.lancs.ac.uk/users/philosophy/courses/100/100menu.htm There are some excellent materials on free will and determinism, Aristotle, Kant and issues surrounding relativismIn ethics, there are two main type of relativism. Descriptive ethical relativism simply claims as a matter of fact that different people have different moral beliefs, but it takes no stand on whether those beliefs are valid or not. Normative ethical relativism claims that each cultureâ€™s (or groupâ€™s) beliefs are right within that culture, and that it is impossible to validly judge another cultureâ€™s values from the outside. from the University of Lancaster Philosophy and Ethics course.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology have an excellent online course on ethics - more than you need for A level, but brilliant nonetheless
http://www.unco.edu/philosophy/clinic.html The Argument Clinic
http://www.philosophersnet.com/ The Philosopher’s Magazine online (has some excellent articles and engaging interactive philosophy games)
http://www.aldaily.com/ Arts and Letters Daily tackles up to date philosophical issues
http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/phil/philo/philpics.html Pictures of philosophers!
http://www.wadsworth.com/cgi-wadsworth/course_products_wp.pl?fid=M20b&product_isbn_issn=9780495502357&discipline_number=10 Download a complete set of summary notes (28 sides) on Louis Pojman's excellent ethicsThe explicit, philosophical reflection on moral beliefs and practices. The difference between ethics and morality is similar to the difference between musicology and music. Ethics is a conscious stepping back and reflecting on morality, just as musicology is a conscious reflection on music. book (Ethics:Discovering Right and Wrong) by clicking on this link. (click on chapter outlines on the left hand side menu)
http://www.learningscientists.org/ The Learning Scientists (specialists in strategies for effective study)
To Google or not to Google…
There are also lots of different search engines students like to search for information. The better ones for academic study are:
This is the academic arm of Google. Google have deals with a number of academic publishers and Google Scholar allows users to search across their content. The results can be a mix of citation details, abstracts and entire journal articles.
Benefits – reliable, good academic standard.
Drawbacks – Can’t always get access to full articles. Some of the results are just links to the books.
Google Books - Google have worked with a number of large research libraries to scan their books and make them freely available to the world.
Benefits – No cost, list of relevant books, dated, books will have been through editorial process which websites may not have been.
Drawbacks – sometimes only a preview, not current books.
KEY CHECKS YOU NEED TO MAKE IN ORDER TO EVALUATE A WEBSITE FOR ACADEMIC USE: