Philosophy & Religious Studies

Through the rigorous study of Religion and Philosophy, the Department seeks to give pupils the skills needed to engage with some of the most challenging intellectual concepts and to develop their ability to appreciate and evaluate the claims of religions and philosophical traditions. Pupils at all levels are challenged to develop the confidence, resilience and cognitive ability to tackle texts, ideas and assumptions of religions and philosophers and develop the capacity to turn critical insights into coherent and purposeful evaluative writing.

We firmly believe that our subject has a unique part to play in the Marlburian education, offering pupils a space in which reflection on spiritual matters and development of a strong pupil voice are highly valued. Through the expertise and enthusiasm of eight subject-specialist beaks our pupils are inspired to strong academic achievement and many pursue our discipline beyond the College at top universities.

The Department is involved in teaching pupils in every year at the College. Two beaks contribute to Marlborough’s unique Form course in the Shell, in which pupils engage with religion in the context of a broad study of the humanities.

The compulsory GCSE in Remove and Hundred is the mainstay of the Department’s work in the Lower School. Classes are taught by a single beak who takes responsibility for preparing pupils for examination in the AQA Religious Studies ‘A’ course (8062), with a specific focus on beliefs and practices in Christianity and Islam, along with four key ethical topics. Each class requires five hours per fortnight in the Remove and four in the Hundred.

The Department explores philosophy, ethics and religion through the OCR A level in Religious Studies (H573). This course was chosen for its rigour and its match with the interests and passions of the expert beaks in the Department. Many Marlburians choose undergraduate courses in Philosophy, Theology and related disciplines.

We offer extensive opportunities for pupils to pursue their philosophical interests beyond the classroom. There is a weekly pupil-driven discussion group, offering a safe environment to test ideas and the ideas of others. There is a more formal programme of talks throughout the year, culminating in the Lent Term Lecture Series which attracts a range of high-profile speakers.

Pupils are also supported in their EPQ projects, with recent examples on the philosophy of language and the moral significance of animals. In addition, electives in the Lower Sixth have been offered in the philosophy of film and the graphic novel genre.