Divinity and Religious Studies

Teaching in Divinity and Religious Studies includes learning about Christianity and other world religions, and supports the development of beliefs and values. This also includes aspects of philosophical enquiry.

Glenalmond is a foundation of the Scottish Episcopal Church but welcomes pupils of all faith backgrounds. Recognising the history and traditions of the College, aspects of Episcopalian belief and practice are explored in the classroom, alongside other Christian and non-Christian traditions.

Recognising that all pupils attend a Divinity lesson as part of their fortnightly timetable from Second Form until the end of Fifth Form, we aim to make the teaching and learning environment as enjoyable and as relevant as possible.

In addition to establishing some of the basic beliefs of Christianity (alongside other major World Religions), there is a particular focus on applying religious and philosophical principles to real-life ethical problems. Consequently, there is a high level of pupil participation in every lesson as pupils are challenged to question and justify their beliefs and opinons.

Head of Department - Darren Tolan,  MA, PDGE

"Religion is a significant area of human experience. As such, it is worthy of study by pupils so that they can have some understanding of one of the prime motivating factors behind human behaviour, both individual and social." Learning and Teaching Scotland

The intention of the Divinity curriculum is to enable pupils to:

  • develop a knowledge and understanding of Christianity and other world religions and recognise religion as an important expression of human experience
  • explore moral values such as wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity
  • investigate and understand the responses which religions can offer to questions about the nature and meaning of life
  • develop the skills of reflection, discernment, critical thinking, and deciding how to act when making moral decisions
  • develop their beliefs, attitudes, moral values and practices through personal search, discovery and critical evaluation, and make a positive difference to the world by putting their beliefs and values into action.

In an attempt to achieve this, the sub-Sixth Form curriculum seeks to engage pupils through the following:

Second Form: The Old Testament; The New Testament; People & Issues; Spirituality in World Religions

Third Form: Christianity: Beliefs & Sources of Authority; Commitment & Membership; Places of Worship; a very gentle introduction to Philosophy

Fourth Form: Christianity: Pilgrimage; Worship; Holy Communion; Festivals; a gentle introduction to Philosophy; Applied Ethics: The Sanctity of Life

Fifth Form: Ethics: Christianity: Ethics: The Use of Medical Technology; Personal Responsibility; Social Responsibility; Religion & Cinema

The sub-Sixth Form curriculum is subject to ongoing active review and development. Much of the study is based on units from a GCSE Religious Studies curriculum although pupils are not presented for the GCSE examination.


The Religion Studies specification offers a range of faith-specific options, ensuring pupils have a thorough understanding of diverse philosophical and ethical viewpoints.  The course features a variety of relevant and contemporary themes, to help inspire engaging classroom discussion.  Pupils will also gain critical and evaluative skills sought after by higher education and employers.

NB: This subject is taught in just eight lessons per fortnight and there is a requirement for students to undertake significant additional reading, writing and research outside formal lessons.


Course Description

The AQA GCE A Level course will cover two broad areas of study, namely:

Component One: Philosophy of Religion & Ethics

Section A: Philosophy of Religion

  • Arguments for the existence of God
  • Evil and Suffering
  • Religious experience
  • Religious language
  • Miracles
  • Self and life after death


Section B: Ethics and religion

  • Ethical theories
  • Issues of human life and death
  • Issues of animal life and death
  • Introduction to meta ethics
  • Free will and moral responsibility
  • Conscience
  • Bentham and Kant


Component Two: Study of Religion (Christianity) and dialogues

Section A: A Study of religion (Christianity)

  • Sources of wisdom and authority
  • God
  • Self, death and the afterlife
  • Good conduct and key moral principles
  • Expression of religious identity
  • Religion, gender and sexuality
  • Religion and science
  • Religion and secularisation
  • Religion and religious pluralism


Section B: The dialogue between philosophy of religion and religion

  • How religion is influences by, and has an influence on philosophy of religion in relation to the issues studied


Section C: The dialogue between ethical studies and religion

  • How religion is influenced by, and has an influence on ethical studies in relation to the issues studied


Assessment Overview:

A Level Religious Studies will be assessed by two examinations, each lasting 3 hours:

  • Component One – Philosophy of religion & Ethics
  • Component Two – Study of Religion (Christianity) and dialogues


Subject Combinations

Religious Studies can combine well with any other subject.  Literacy and a capacity for logical thinking are an advantage.  NB – this is an essay-based subject, requiring a genuine commitment to reading and writing.


Careers and Higher Education

Religious Studies is recognised by universities in the same way as any other arts subject, encouraging, as it does critical awareness of sometimes complex philosophical and logical arguments. Career prospects are entirely equitable with other arts subjects, with graduates choosing business, law, teaching, further study and only occasionally holy orders!