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We ensure that students are fully engaged in their learning so that they can develop the skills and understanding they need to be able to reflect spiritually, think ethically and theologically, which includes being able to use religious language accurately. We hope that students will be able to meet the demands of living out their beliefs in everyday life.

We work to ensure that teaching and learning takes an inclusive approach so that all students can grow in personality, relationships, knowledge and skill towards a full realisation of their potential, in a Christian environment.

We offer an engaging curriculum which is based on students being able to develop their knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith, so that they can continually deepen their religious and theological understanding and be able to communicate this effectively.

We want students to develop their critical thinking skills and to be involved in lessons which stimulate their imagination and encourage them to search for personal meaning in their lives, in the context of a Christian environment.

As part of the Brentwood Ursuline community and Ursuline community worldwide, we aim to provide the students with opportunities to develop the Ursuline virtues of: being united in harmony, grateful and generous, listening and attentive, loving and compassionate, faith-filled and hopeful, courageous and resilient, discerning and joyful, leading for justice, acting with truth and integrity and 'serviam.'

Curriculum Summary

Key Stage 3

Programme of Study

The Religious Education curriculum at BUCHS is in keeping with the Curriculum Directory for Religious Education, produced by the Bishops of England and Wales. It aims to ensure all students deepen their understanding of their own faith and discover more about the faith of others. The course also provides opportunities for students to think philosophically and ethically about contemporary issues.

Over the two years, the students will study the following:

The theme of the Year 7 course is "Spirituality". Students will have the opportunity to think about what it means to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Topics include a study of the Ursuline community and the Christian community, the Holy Spirit and the Sacrament of Confirmation, prayer and the use of art, music and meditation in prayer, Creation and scientific explanations for the origins of the universe, how art and architecture can be spiritual, teachings on wealth and poverty, and the work of Christians to help those in need. In Year 7, students will also complete a study of Hinduism.

The theme of the Year 8 course is "Wisdom". Students will have the opportunity to develop their experience and knowledge in order to make good decisions. Topics include: what it means to love ourselves and others, vocation, how we make good decisions, the wisdom of sacred stories, the wisdom that can be found in the history of the Church, a study of philosophical questions and how these questions have been answered by philosophers in the past, and what it means to live wisely (including a study of prejudice and discrimination.) In Year 8, students will also complete a study of Sikhism.

The theme for two terms of Year 9, before the GCSE course is started, is ‘Happiness.’ Students will have the opportunity to reflect deeply on different ways of thinking about happiness for themselves and for others. Topics include: happiness and me, building a happy world, making good decisions and making happy and healthy relationships. In Year 9, students will also complete a study of Islam and then in the Spring Term will begin a study of Catholicism for the GCSE course, beginning with Creation.

Learning/Teaching Approach

In Religious Education, students are expected to work independently, manage their own time and resources and actively engage in all lessons. Students will need to be able to work with others to find creative solutions to problems. Students will develop the ability to analyse a variety of texts and other sources along with the ability to think critically about what they read. This will enable students to produce a written evaluation of a particular topic that is evidence based, uses technical terminology and that reaches a justified conclusion.

Students will also be given opportunities for prayer and reflection. They will be able to put their faith into action outside of the classroom through social justice projects.


In Religious Education, the progress of students will be checked in every lesson. Students will know what they are doing well and how they can improve by the end of each lesson. Students will be formally assessed at the end of each topic. This will usually take the form of a question and answer test similar to what they will be given at GCSE level. Students will be given feedback so that they can make progress throughout the course.

Key Stage 4

Qualification: GCSE

Awarding Body and Paper: AQA Religious Studies B

Programme of Study

The structure of the programme of study will be as follows:
A study of Catholic Christianity, as the primary religion and forming 50% of the programme of study, covering these six topics:

  • Creation
  • Incarnation
  • Triune God
  • Church and the Kingdom of God
  • Redemption
  • Eschatology

A second religion, Judaism, will be studied as part of the new requirement by the Government for Religious Studies, which will form 25% of the programme of study.

A study of religious, philosophical and ethical themes in the modern world, which will form 25% of the programme of study.

  • Theme A: Religion, relationships and families.
  • Theme C: Religion, human rights and social justice.

Learning/Teaching Approach

Students will study Catholic Christianity which will enable them to engage with questions of belief, value, meaning, truth and their influence on human life.

The study of a second religion will challenge students to reflect on and develop their own values, beliefs and attitudes in light of what they have learnt and contribute to their preparation for adult life in a pluralistic society and global community.

Students will be able to develop their ability to construct well-argued, well-informed and structured written arguments, demonstrating their depth and breadth of understanding in Religious Studies. There will be opportunities to reflect on and debate key issues in the modern world raised through religious, philosophical and ethical studies. Students will have the opportunity to participate in class discussions in order to engage with the issues raised and be expected to develop their independent study skills through the use of the resources provided for them, which are available electronically.


Examinations form 100% of the assessment at the end of the course; there is no assessment through coursework or controlled assessment.

What it can lead to

After success at GCSE, many students choose Religious Studies at A Level.

Additional Points

The GCSE course is enhanced by the extra-curricular activities organised by the RE Department and the Chaplain, in which students in Years 10 and 11 are encouraged to participate. These include retreats, prayer and meditation and the Justice and Peace Group.

Students may choose to study Religious Studies at A Level which is a popular A Level subject at BUCHS.

It is hoped that the Religious Studies course will lead students to put their Christian faith into action and to become more reflective people.

Tier of Entry

Single Tier.


Key Stage 5

Qualification: A Level Religious Studies

Awarding Body and Paper: OCR Religious Studies A Level H573

OCR Religious Studies H573 Level is made up of three components: Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought. The course is taught by two members of the RE Team; one focusing on Philosophy of Religion and related topics in Developments in Christian Thought and the other focusing on Religion and Ethics and related topics in Developments in Christian Thought.

The specification which makes up the programme of study is as follows:

Programme of Study

Philosophy of religion

Learners will study:

• ancient philosophical influences; Plato and Aristotle

• the nature of the soul, mind and body e.g. dualism and materialism

• arguments about the existence or non-existence of God e.g. teleological, cosmological and ontological arguments.

• the nature and impact of religious experience e.g. challenges from psychology

• the challenge for religious belief of the problem of evil

• ideas about the nature of God e.g. omnipotence and benevolence

• issues in religious language

Religion and ethics

Learners will study:

• normative ethical theories e.g. natural law

• the application of ethical theory to two contemporary issues of importance; euthanasia and business ethics

• ethical language and thought

• debates surrounding the significant idea of conscience

• sexual ethics and the influence on ethical thought of developments in religious beliefs.

Developments in religious thought

Learners will study:

• religious beliefs, values and teachings, their interconnections and how they vary historically and in the contemporary world

• sources of religious wisdom and authority

• practices which shape and express religious identity, and how these vary within a tradition

• significant social and historical developments in theology and religious thought

• key themes related to the relationship between religion and society in the context of Christianity

Learning/Teaching Approach

At A Level, students are encouraged to develop their study skills further so that they can work independently, to prepare them for further study at university or in the world of work. They have access to electronic resources, but also a wide range of reading materials in order to support their additional reading for each section of the course. A deeper reading pack and additional booklets are provided, but students are also expected to find further reading materials in order to develop their understanding and to help develop their writing and thinking skills for essays. It is a fascinating course which is well put together and which will probably raise more questions than it answers!

Students will be able to develop their ability to construct well-argued, well-informed and structured written arguments, demonstrating their depth and breadth of understanding in theology, philosophy and ethics. The course is challenging as students have to respond critically to a wealth of philosophical, ethical and religious concepts, which equips them with analytical skills readily transferable to other subjects. Students will be expected to participate in class discussions in order to engage with the issues raised and to develop their ability to argue coherently.  This is an aspect of the course that many students most enjoy. Students are also encouraged to particulate in lectures or courses provided for Sixth Form Religious Studies students, particularly if they wish to study the subject at degree level.


Examinations form 100% of the assessment at the end of the course.  There is no assessment through coursework or controlled assessment. There is a 2 hour written paper for each of the 3 components.

What it can lead to

After success at A Level, some students choose to study theology, philosophy, ethics, religious studies or related subjects at university.  Religious Studies is a subject valued by universities as it prepares students well for further study through the development of critical thinking skills, giving them an ability to argue coherently in essays.  Further, it affords them the skills to use a range of scholars’ ideas to formulate a thesis. A qualification in Religious Studies makes a student very employable, especially in careers which demand attention to detail and require empathy with other people’s views. A Level Religious Studies can lead to a wide range of careers; such as law, social services, health care professions, politics and journalism.  Teaching is a popular choice for many BUCHS Religious Studies students.

Additional Points

The A Level course is an academic one, but it does also sometimes lead to further faith exploration for students.  They are encouraged to get involved in, and to help lead, extra-curricular activities organised by the RE Department and the Chaplain, such as retreats, prayer and meditation and the Justice and Peace Group.