OLC ‘A’ LEVEL IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Oxford Learning College (OLC) is a seasoned provider of Religious Studies courses, and currently has the following in its portfolio of learning programmes: the International Certificate in General Education (IGCSE); the General Certificate in Education (GCSE); Advanced Subsidiary Certificate in General Education (AS-GCE); the Advanced Certificate in General Education (GCE) and also its own ‘Fast track’ of A Level.
This A level course is based on the Edexcel Advanced General Certificate Education; (A-GCE) Specifications for Religious Studies, which became available from 2016 examination series.
The Learning programme for the student, offers choice and scope in regards to the wider study of religious belief, philosophy and ethics. The course follows the core aims of the Edexcel framework, (students can also prepare with this material to sit the Edexcel Examination) which are to:
- The Specification offers an academic approach to the study of religion and is accessible to candidates of any religious persuasion or none.
- The Edexcel Religious Studies Specification encourages candidates to: develop their interest in, and enthusiasm for, a rigorous study of religion and its relation to the wider world. To treat the subject as an academic discipline by developing clear critical skills in their knowledge, understanding and analysis appropriate to a specialist study of Religion, adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of religion. Reflect on and develop their own values, opinions and attitudes in the light of their learning.
- Candidates will have an opportunity to critically study aspects of Christianity (although other World Religions area also available in the specifications), gaining understanding of the critical theological debate, the principle theologians, including textual, theological, historical, ethical, phenomenological and philosophical perspectives.
- to undertake a broader study of the Christian religion through the selection of a variety of theological topics which, although eclectic, complement each other. The following are examples: a critical study of the Old Testament and it's wider complexity for today's Church, learning how and why, the History of Christianity is still shaping the moral framework of the 21st century.
- No prior knowledge of Religious Studies is required. However, the opportunity is provided for candidates who have studied Religious Studies at GCSE (either as a Full or Short Course) to build on knowledge, understanding and skills gained at that level.
- The course encourages candidates to develop the critical and evaluative skills which will enable them to apply religious values and teaching in everyday situations.
- to go on to Higher Education to study a wide range of courses, including Religious Studies, Theology, Philosophy, Law, Sociology and the Social Sciences.
- A study of Edexcel GCE Religious Studies Specification complements many other popular A Levels including Philosophy, Law, History, History of Art, Government and Politics, Sociology and English Literature. Students who successfully complete this course are able to move onto other A Level and Diploma Courses which builds on the knowledge of the wider syllabus.
This course consists of FOUR UNITS from the GCE A Level and is a qualification in its own right.
Students are strongly recommended to familiarise themselves with the new Edexcel specification for the A level GCE in Religious Studies (for first examination in 2016).
THE EXTERNAL ASSESSMENT OBJECTIVES – A LEVEL
The course does not as standard have any ‘course work’ element and is therefore, has an end loaded final assessment by a FOUR 2.5 hours in total examination time, which are divided into TWO parts – A & B.
To ensure that the four assessment objectives are clearly placed and assessed prior to the final examination, the TMA’s are weighted in accordance with these AO statements below:
AO1: recall, select, organise, and deploy knowledge of the specification content (this Assessment Objective is often referred to as ‘Knowledge’)
AO2: describe, analyse and explain the relevance and application of a religion or religions (this Assessment Objective is often referred to as ‘Understanding’)
Quality of Written Communication (QWC)
In addition, in GCE A-level specifications which require candidates to produce written material in English, candidates must: ensure that text is legible and that spelling, punctuation and grammar are accurate so that meaning is clear; select and use a form and style of writing appropriate to purpose and to complex subject matter; organise, information clearly and coherently, using specialist vocabulary when appropriate. In this Specification, QWC will be assessed in all questions and in all units
TUTOR MARKED ASSIGNMENTS
At the end of each unit of study there is an assignment to be completed and submitted by the student to the tutor. They are written using much of the information from the unit of learning, areas within the case studies, and additional materials as well as the course script itself.
Oxford Learning College offer the opportunity to study Religious Studies courses as specified by Edexcel. This A level syllabus has several features:
· To develop an interest in, and enthusiasm for the rigorous study of religion and its relation to the wider world.
· To treat the subject as an academic discipline, providing the knowledge, understanding and skills appropriate for specialist study.
· To teach students an enquiring, reflective and critical approach to the study of religion.
· To encourage students to reflect on their own values, beliefs and opinions in the light of their study.
The whole A level has FOUR (4) specific units of study, which are sub-divided into FOUR (4) Units of learning, these are:
UNIT ONE – PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
In this unit, we will, learn about the philosophy that underpins the belief systems of World religions, together with the counter religious ideas, which are not specific to any one religion, and also form in part the philosophy of non-religious beliefs and values; like: morals; ethics; justice; power and much more. Therefore, this whole unit is part of a much wider context, in which you will develop a critical analysis and understanding of the many questions that form religious belief and structure. This will include learning about the theological framework that forms the foundations of the religious faiths.
UNIT TWO – RELIGION AND ETHICS
This unit now builds on the core framework of unit one. Having formed the structure of the Philosophy of religion, we now move to put the sometimes difficult areas of debate under analytical scrutiny, that scholars grapple with over millennia to the present time. Provide answers to: why do we use religion as a framework for our structures in society, our moral standing, legal statutes, mode of behaviour and many other micro aspects of the macro strategies that inform, support, rationalise, and perhaps even, police society.
UNIT THREE – NEW TESTAMENT STUDIES
In this unit, we will, learn about Christology, Eschatology, Biblical Redactive Criticism, Interpretation and in doing so, take a critical approach to the New Testament; its origin and message; about the man Christ Jesus – His life, mission and why, the Christian faith became a religion. We will learn the concepts that underpins the belief systems of the Christian religion, together with the counter religious ideas that raised conflict with the established Jewish Faith, its: philosophy; legalistic rule; values; morals; ethics; justice; power and much more.
UNIT FOUR – STUDY OF RELIGION
In Unit 4: Study of Religion, opportunity is given for students to choose two World Religions and apply the knowledge gained from units One and Two. The overview will provide a framework of six of the major World. How religions’ have evolved and, developed their communities; together with the key religious ideas that have shaped there ongoing development. This will allow students to add to this knowledge with guided study and tutor support to produce a final project.
Each unit will also have its own Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA). These assignments will be based on actual examination questions (from past papers), which will prepare the student for the final examination. There is no coursework option for this programme.
The TMA should be sent/uploaded to the ODL tutor through the Online Campus, for marking and grading. Although tutor support is optional, it is a vital component in preparing the student for the examination and therefore, it is encouraged that students take full advantage of this support. The completed TMA unit can then be used as a ‘revision tool’ for the final examination.
Each TMA (four in all) will be graded in the same manner as the examination paper, with feedback comments and support/advise from the course tutor.
Each unit will have a short optional ‘self tasks’ which will ask revision questions about the content being learnt in the unit, and answers provided for the student to check their own knowledge and understanding. These ‘self tasks’ do not need to be sent into the tutor for marking – and if done so, would be returned unmarked!
Final OLC Grading
The scheme of assessment consists of a single tier, in which all components target the complete ranges of grades; from: A*–G. Students who fail to achieve grade G will be awarded Ungraded. The grades are weighted from marks attained in Units.
As there is no internal centre (OLC) coursework component, the internal ODL TMA’s do not form part of the final grading outcome for the student, although they do in essence prepare the student for a level of success in attaining a pass result in the examination. Therefore, it is advisable that students seriously consider completing TMA’s as part of their programme of learning and submitting them for tutor marking and comment.
All students take the single externally marked examination paper to attain the A Level GCE in Religious Studies.
Each unit for the A level papers are each 1.5 long and each carry 100 marks. Student which are then aggregated to assess the final outcome grade awarded.
There will be one question based on each of the four sub-topics already stated. Candidates must answer two of these questions. Understanding of any one topic may be informed by a study of the others, and, where relevant, candidates may draw on material from more than one topic in their answer to any question set. To study less than the full Specification content may disadvantage a candidate’s synoptic grasp of the material for study. Where appropriate, answers should show awareness that there are differing views on the topics and issues studied.
Examination Award Grading/Result
The A level qualification will be graded on a five-point scale: A, B, C, D and E. The full A Level qualification will be graded on a six-point scale: A*, A, B, C, D and E. To be awarded an A* candidates will need to achieve a grade A on the full A Level qualification and an A* on the aggregate of the A2 units.
For AS and A Level, candidates who fail to reach the minimum standard for grade E will be recorded as U (unclassified) and will not receive a qualification certificate. Individual assessment unit results will be certificated
Good English oral, reading and writing skills. Full tutor support is given although, Tutor’s are not able to support beyond specific syllabus queries, learning difficulties and marking/grading of TMA’s. General support is offered by OLC through its online and telephone student services centre.
Approximately: One hundred and fifty (150) hours of personal study time, which is supported by the OLC Tutor, which is an optional arrangement for students, but we greatly encouraged students to access this to achieve a good examination outcome.
A Level GCE Religious Studies level course and examinations must be successfully completed to gain a full A Level.
This qualification supports progression to: AQA Advanced GCE in a number of subjects at OLCand also, Foundation/Access Courses for Mature Students into Higher Education.
Although the course programme is ‘self contained’ the student may wish to obtain further materials in regards to learning. The following materials are in the main useful, but not essential to guide learning:-
The Holy Bible: (New International Version, Amplified Version or Message Version).
The Holy Koran
Andrew Northedge – The Good Study Guide