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You can choose either GCSE or IGCSE Religious Studies as a private (external) candidate, as there is no coursework / Non-Examined Assessment in the new 9-1 GCSEs. The GCSEs are available as 'Short Course' GCSEs, worth half a GCSE, or as 'Long Course' versions worth a full GCSE. The International GCSEs are only available as full IGCSEs.

AQA GCSE Religious Studies Edit

There are two specifications available from AQA for GCSE, both of which are assessed without coursework and both can be taken as either a long or short course.

Spec A

  • 2 papers 1 hr 45 mins

Paper 1 - study of 2 main religions

Students should study any two of the following:

  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Catholic Christianity
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Sikhism.

Christianity and Catholic Christianity is a prohibited combination

Paper 2 Thematic studies

Either four religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes or two religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes and two textual studies themes.

Religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes:

  • Theme A: Relationships and families.
  • Theme B: Religion and life.
  • Theme C: The existence of God and revelation.
  • Theme D: Religion, peace and conflict.
  • Theme E: Religion, crime and punishment.
  • Theme F: Religion, human rights and social justice.

Textual studies themes:

  • Theme G: St Mark's Gospel – the life of Jesus.
  • Theme H: St Mark's Gospel as a source of religious, moral and spiritual truths.

Spec B

Full course 2 options (2 x 1hr 30 min paper), Short course 1 option (1 x 1hr 30 min paper) from:

  • 1 Religion and Citizenship
  • 2 Religion and Life Issues
  • 3 Religion and Morality
  • 4 Religious Philosophy and Ultimate Questions
  • 5 Religious Expression in Society
  • 6 Worship and Key Beliefs

'Resources for AQA'

All the units are available as separate books AQA GCSE Religious Studies Textbooks

Edexcel IGCSE Religious Studies Edit

Edexcel IGCSE Religious Studies

The Edexcel specification has two parts assessed on one 2hr 30 min paper:

Part 1 Beliefs and Values

Part 2 The Religious Community

The above themes are studied with reference to at least one of:

  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Hinduism
  • Islam 
  • Judaism
  • Sikhism

There is a list of recommended reading at the end of the specification.

It is also possible to take a standard GCSE in Religious Studies with Edexcel as either a long or short course.

The long course consists of 2 units (two 1hr 30 min papers)and the short course of 1 (one 1hr 30 min paper)from:

  • Religion and Life (choice of six different perspectives)
  • Religion and Society (Christianity and at least one other perspective)
  • Study of one religion (choice of six different perspectives)
  • Mark's Gospel

There are textbooks for some of the units

CIE IGCSE Religious studies Edit

CIE IGCSE Religious Studies 

This specification is assessed using two 1 hr 45 min papers and focuses on three religious traditions:

  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Judaism

But the candidate only studies and answers questions on 2 out of the 3 possible religions. Each is examined in terms of:

  • Worship
  • Beliefs and sacred writings
  • Festivals, fasts, pilgrimage/historic places
  • Religion and the family; rites of passage
  • Religion and social action

There is a list of suggested resources available on the CIE website.

NB: This exam is only available in the October/November exam sitting, not in the summer.

O Level Edit

There is also an O level Religious Studies (Bible Knowledge) available from CIE

This is assessed using two 1 hr 30 min papers:

  • The portrayal of the life and teaching of Jesus (Focusing on the Gospel of Luke (2014) or Gospel of Matthew - from 2015)
  • The portrayal of the birth of the early church (Focusing on the Book of Acts)

This specification is mainly used overseas but is available for timezone 3 (UK)

There is a list of recommended reading on the CIE website.

OCR GCSE Religious Studies Edit

There are two specifications from OCR which are both exam only. Both specs are available as long courses (four 1hr papers) or short course (two 1hr papers)

OCR Religious Studies A

Any 4 (or 2 for short course) from:

  • Buddhism 1
  • Buddhism 2
  • Christianity 1 
  • Christianity 2
  • Christianity 1 (Roman Catholic)
  • Christianity 2 (Roman Catholic)
  • Hinduism 1
  • Hinduism 2
  • Islam 1
  • Islam 2
  • Judaism 1
  • Judaism 2
  • Sikhism 1
  • Sikhism 2
  • Christian Scriptures 1
  • Christian Scriptures 2
  • Jewish Scriptures 1
  • Jewish Scriptures 2
  • Muslim Texts 1
  • Muslim Texts 2


Most units are available as separate  textbooks.

OCR Religious Studies B

All four (or any 2 for short course) from:

  • Philosophy 1
  • Philoshophy 2
  • Ethics 1
  • Ethics 2

A range of textbooks are available eg for all units together.

Additional Resources Edit

[BBC Knowledge and Learning GCSE Religious Studies Films]

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1620609181544744/ Facebook group for home educating families who are studying any of the Religious Studies IGCSEs/O or A Levels.  

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