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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 There is now a separate short course, equivalent to 1/2 a GCSE.

[AQA Spec A] Edit

  • 2 papers of 1 hr 45 mins each

Paper 1 - The study of religions: beliefs, teachings and practices

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.

[AQA Spec B] Edit

2 papers of 1hr 45min

Paper 1 Catholic Christianity

Catholic beliefs, teachings, practices, sources of authority and forms of expression in relation to six topics:

  • creation
  • incarnation
  • the Triune God
  • redemption
  • church
  • eschatology

Paper 2 Perspectives on faith

One religion chosen from either Islam or Judaism (The content of which is identical to that for spec A, including practices)

and either

  • two religious, philosophical and ethical studies themes chosen from
  • Theme A: Religion, relationships and families
  • Theme B: Religion, peace and conflict
  • Theme C: Religion, human rights and social justice.OR

or

  • two textual studies themes:
  • Theme D: St Mark’s Gospel – the life of Jesus
  • Theme E: St Mark’s Gospel as a source of spiritual truth.

Themes D and E are very similar in content to themes G and H in Spec A.

[AQA Short Course ]

This short course is co-teachable with our GCSE Religious Studies full course. It does not include the 'practices' section of the religions studied in Spec A.

There is one examination of 1hr 45minutes. This comprises of 3 question/answer booklets. 2 booklets for section A (one for each religion) and 1 booklet for section B. It is advised to spend 50 mins on section B and 25 minutes each on the two section A booklets.

This one examination contains the following:

Section A: The study of religions: beliefs and teachings

Students answer questions on the beliefs and teachings of TWO religions from the following:

  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Buddhism

Section B: Thematic studies: religious, philosophical and ethical studies. Students answer questions on both themes:

  • Theme A: Relationships and families
  • Theme B: Religion, peace and conflict

The short course is essentially the same teachings as Spec A except without the 'practices' teaching for the religions. Themes A and B are identical to themes A and B of Spec A. Therefore Spec A resources work well for teaching this short course.

'Resources for AQA' Edit

AQA recommended textbooks can be found here. Most are for Spec A.

CGP also have a number of revision books for Spec A. CGP revision books and flashcards can be found here.

An online resource linked from the AQA subject page is RE:online.

Edexcel IGCSE Religious Studies Edit

IGCSE Religious studies specification(4SR1 first examination 2019)

New specification came out in 2019. Update to follow....

2 papers: paper 1 is 1hr 45mins and accounts for 60% of the final grade; paper 2 is 1hr 30mins accounting for 40% of the final grade.

Paper 1: Beliefs and Values

This paper assesses knowledge and understanding of four key topic areas from a chosen religion (at least one of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism or Sikhism):

  • Section 1: The Universe, Creation and the Place of Human Beings
  • Section 2: Life and Death
  • Section 3: Peace and Conflict
  • Section 4: Rights, Equality and Social Justice

Paper 2: The Religious Community

This paper assesses knowledge and understanding of three key topic areas from a chosen religion:

  • Section 1: Origins and their Impact on the Community
  • Section 2: Celebration and Pilgrimage
  • Section 3: Worship and Practice

Paper 1 has four sections and you must answer one question from each section, from a choice of two.

Paper 2 answer all the questions on one chosen religion.

No obvious dedicated teaching resources for the edexcel IGCSE religious studies.

Edexcel GCSE Religious Studies Edit

It is also possible to take a standard GCSE in Religious Studies with Edexcel board. There are 2 specifications, spec A and spec B both with equivalent short courses. This document gives a good overview of all these GCSE options from edexcel.

[Edexcel Spec A] first examination 2018 Edit

"Faith and practice in the 21st century" - Study of two religions split 75/25

All students must complete:

  • Paper 1: Area of Study 1 – Study of Religion (Catholic Christianity, Christianity and Islam) - 50% of grade 1hr 45min.
  • Paper 2: Area of Study 2 – Study of Second Religion (Catholic Christianity, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Sikhism) - 25% of grade; 50mins. Students must select a different religion than that selected for Paper 1. Students who have studied Catholic Christianity or Christianity cannot take either of these for their chosen second religion.

Students must then complete one assessment from either:

  • Paper 3: Area of Study 3 – Philosophy and Ethics (Catholic Christianity, Christianity and Islam) - 25% of grade; 50mins.
  • Paper 4: Area of Study 4 – Textual Studies (Mark’s Gospel or The Qur’an) - 25% of grade; 50mins.

There is also a short course option for edexcel spec A.

[Edexcel Spec B] first examination 2018 Edit

"Beliefs in Action" - Study of two religions split 50/50

Religious Studies B consists of three Areas of Study from which students study two, which are then assessed through two externally set examination papers. Catholic Christianity and Christianity are prohibited combinations.

Paper 1: Area of Study 1 – Religion and Ethics - 50% - 1hr 45mins

Students must study all four content sections based upon their chosen religion. Students must select one religion from a choice of seven (Catholic Christianity, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism). The studied religion must be different for each Area of Study chosen.

  • Beliefs
  • Marriage and the Family
  • Living the Religious Life
  • Matters of Life and Death

AND/OR

Paper 2: Area of Study 2 – Religion, Peace and Conflict - 50% - 1hr 45mins

Students must study all four content sections based upon their chosen religion. Students must select one religion from a choice of seven (Catholic Christianity, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism). The studied religion must be different for each Area of Study chosen.

  • Beliefs
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Living the Religious Life
  • Peace and Conflict

AND/OR

Paper 3: Area of Study 3 – Religion, Philosophy and Social Justice - 50% - 1hr 45mins

Students must study all four content sections based upon their chosen religion.

  • Beliefs
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Living the Religious Life
  • Equality

Students must select one religion from a choice of seven (Catholic Christianity, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism). The studied religion must be different for each Area of Study chosen.

Edexcel spec B Short Course Edit

The short course is half the content of the full course. As for the full course, students must study two religions. Two papers are offered and students study one religion in each paper. Each religion is covered equally. The religions offered are: Catholic Christianity OR Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism. The short course has been designed so that it can be co-taught with the full course, as the content for the relevant sections is almost identical.

Paper 1: Religion and Ethics Two compulsory content areas based on the chosen religion - 50mins

  • Beliefs
  • Marriage and the family

Paper 2: Peace and Conflict Two compulsory content areas based on the chosen religion - 50mins

  • Beliefs
  • Crime and Punishment

(There is no Paper 3 option in the short course.)

Resources for Edexcel GCSE Edit

There seem to be more published resources for edexcel spec B than there is for spec A.

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 (From 2018 to 2020 the Paper 1 examination will be based on the Gospel of Luke. From 2021 to 2023, paper 1 will be based on the Gospel of Matthew.)
  • 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

[OCR specification j125] first assessment 2018.

Beliefs and teachings & Practices. Learners are required to study two religions from:

  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism

1 hour written paper on each religion worth 25% of overall grade.

Religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a religious perspective. Learners are required to study this component from the perspective of one of the religions they chose in the first component.

Four themes to be studied: *Relationships and families *The existence of God, gods and the ultimate reality *Religion, peace and conflict *Dialogue between religious and non-religious beliefs and attitudes    2 hour written paper worth 50% of overall grade


OCR published resources seem to be aimed at studying Christianity and Islam in the first component and Christianity in the second component.

[OCR Short course specification]

1 paper of 2 hours

Section A

Beliefs and teachings Learners are required to study the ‘beliefs and teachings’ of two religions from:

  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Judaism

Section B

Relationships and families Learners are required to study the theme ‘Relationships and families’ from one of the religions studied in Section A above.

Section C

Dialogue between religious and non-religious beliefs and attitudes Learners are required to study the theme ‘Dialogue between religious and non-religious beliefs and attitudes’ from one of the following religions: • Christianity • Islam • Judaism The same religion must be studied in Section B and Section C and it must be one of the two religions studied in Section A.

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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