12 May 2022

A guide to approaching the Anthology at A level Religious Studies

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The aims of the Edexcel A level Religious Studies qualification are to:

  • develop interest in a rigorous study of religion and belief and relate it to the wider world
  • develop knowledge and understanding appropriate to a specialist study of religion
  • develop an understanding and appreciation of religious thought and its contribution to individuals, communities and societies
  • adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of religion
  • reflect on and develop their own values, opinions and attitudes in the light of their study

Basis in scholarship
The qualification’s focus on scholarship allows candidates to understand a diversity of views, the developing nature of the subject throughout time and to develop their skills in critical evaluation.

At Edexcel, we use the Anthology texts to support candidates’ understanding; to develop their ability to comprehend scholarly writings and prepare them for their next steps in academic scholarship. This anthology is unique to the Edexcel A level qualification and enables teachers and candidates to have easy and instant access to the key texts, ideas and thinkers they need to study the course.

The Anthology should be used as a ‘starting point’ for candidates and they should be encouraged to read and engage with the additional contributors listed within the specification. The use of the extract as part of the assessment helps candidates ground their knowledge in scholarship.

How to use the Anthology
The Anthology is not meant to be learnt by heart and there does not need to be time set aside to teach the Anthology discretely. The Anthology should be used to supplement the teaching of the Specification content.

For example, when teaching Arguments from the Existence of God in the ‘Philosophy of Religion’ paper, one could use the Copleston and Russell debate to discuss the positions of theists and atheists in relation to the Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument or linking this to other arguments.

The texts are meant to be used to support the teaching of the content.

How to use the extract to ‘clarify’ a view
Candidates will always be provided with an extract of the Anthology text in the exam for Q3a so are not expected to know it by heart. This extract supports candidates and acts as a prompt to ‘clarify’ an idea presented by the scholar. The candidate will be asked to clarify an idea that they have studied as part of the course.

For example if candidates were asked to ‘Explore ideas about ‘love’ in ethical decision making’ in an 8-mark question (Q1), they would be able to draw on what they have covered within the specification to explain Fletcher’s principles of Situation Ethics. If a similar question came up in a 10-mark question (Q3a) which asked candidates to ‘Clarify ideas about love in ethical decision making outlined in this passage’, they would be able to draw on the same knowledge to answer this question, but the extract supports them with reminders of key language and key concepts.

How to teach candidates to use the extract in Q3a
Firstly, get candidates to read the extract fully.

Secondly, get candidates to circle, highlight or underline key concepts or ideas.

Thirdly, candidates then answer the question, using the key ideas they have identified in the extracts as ‘springboards’ to help them explain, by adding detail and development.

Candidates can take each point they have identified and explain these, developing them to demonstrate their knowledge of the topic.
 

Annotated extract

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What do candidates need to do to meet level 3 criteria?

The level criteria for Q3a

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  • Show their knowledge in relation to the topic
  • Use key terminology/language (the extract can support this)
  • Selected relevant information to answer the question (the extract can support this)
  • Give detailed and developed answers – expand on their annotations from the extract. Fully explain each.
  • Link key ideas/concepts to references from the extract
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