October 2023 Religious Studies subject update | Pearson qualifications

October 2023 Religious Studies subject update

Tue Oct 31 11:25:00 UTC 2023

Welcome to your Pearson Edexcel Religious Studies October 2023 subject update!

Hello colleagues,

We may have just missed the October cutoff for sending this out but I wanted to share some key updates, event information and useful resources with you.  

Please do get in touch with me if you have any queries or I can help with anything.  

Best wishes, 

Susan Currey

Religious Studies Subject Advisor 

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If you have any questions, then please do contact me:

☎ Call: 0344 463 2535

✉ Email: TeachingReligiousStudies@pearson.com

💻 Book a Teams meeting with me: https://bit.ly/3rEVLx8

This update includes:

General Qualifications Updates

  • Assessment support
  • Ofqual resilience guidance

Teaching & Learning support

  • Topic of the Month

Enrichment opportunities and CPD

  • Candle conferences
  • Strictly RE conference
  • AS Exam question overviews
  • 10-mark 'Clarify' exemplars
  • CPD events


  • GCSE Level Descriptors update
  • CPD events
  • 3-mark 'Outline' video

International GCSE

  • Change to entry codes

General Qualification updates

General qualifications assessment support

We’ve got a new support page for you to bookmark – General qualifications assessment support. Here we’ll share news information and updates from Ofqual, the Department for Education (DfE), the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) and Pearson, relating to the exams and assessments for our GCSE, AS and A level qualifications.

We’ll be updating it regularly so you know you’ve got all the latest announcements, news, support materials and updates to enable you to teach our qualifications, help your students with their assessments and post-results support, to enable them to progress.

General qualifications assessment support

Ofqual resilience guidance September 2023

On 21 September 2023, Ofqual published the resilience guidance for centres delivering GCSE, AS and A levels, Project Qualifications and Advanced Extension Award in maths (AEA). We’ve put together a summary of this guidance on our new support page with links through to the full information from Ofqual.

Please do encourage your team members to read through this guidance in full.

Ofqual resilience guidance September 2023

AS and A level Religious Studies

We have collated all Edexcel AS level Religious Studies past questions across years for each paper (from SAMs - 2023).  

This provides an overview of the different questions asked on different papers over the qualification cycle so you can see how a topic has been assessed in different ways across the cycle.  

Each overview is available on our AS/A level qualification page under 'Teaching and Learning' then 'Assessment materials'.

Exam question overview

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*You will need your Edexcel Online login details to access these as they contain 2023 exam materials.  

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A level 10-mark 'Clarify' exemplar answers

We have published a range of 10-mark 'Clarify' student answers from the summer 2022 exam series to help exemplify how different levels and marks were awarded.  These include answers across the range of papers and mark range with analysis against the level descriptors.  

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A level 10-mark exemplars

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Event Date Description Booking link
A level 'New to Edexcel' On-demand

This free on-demand session will provide you with the information you need to introduce you to A level Religious Studies with Pearson Edexcel. 

*Resources can be found in the description below the video.  

Access on-demand training
A level 'Feedback from 2023 Exams' On-demand

This free on-demand session will provide a big picture overview of senior examiner feedback from the summer 2023 exam series, led by our Chief examiner for A level RS. 

*Resources can be found in the description below the video.  

 Access on-demand training
A level 'Assessment and Marking'



This free online session is designed for teachers who want to understand and apply marking principles for AS and A Level Religious Studies.  Led by one of our experienced examiners.   Booking link

GCSE Religious Studies (Specifications A and B)

On the 7th September, we sent out a communication regarding updating our level descriptors.  

You can read this communication at the following link:

GCSE (d) evaluation level descriptors communication

We are hoping to be able to share further information with you soon and will release further information in future Religious Studies subject updates.  

Following feedback from centres, this year we are offering our GCSE exam feedback events as pre-recorded on-demand sessions so that centres can access these at a time convenient for them.  

Running these as a pre-record also means that our senior examining team were able to deliver the training directly (as senior examiners cannot run live training events with teachers). 

Event Date Description Booking link
GCSE Specification A 'Feedback from 2023 Exams' On-demand

This on-demand session will provide a big picture overview of senior examiner feedback from the summer 2023 exam series across papers for Specification A.  Led by our Chief examiner for Specification A.  

*Resources are available in the description below the video

Access on-demand training
GCSE Specification B 'Feedback from 2023 Exams'


This on-demand session will provide a big picture overview of senior examiner feedback from the summer 2023 exam series across papers for Specification B.  Led by our Chief examiner for Specification B.  

*Resources are available in the description below the video

Access on-demand training

We are also finalising our planned training events for GCSE Religious Studies currently.  We are hoping to be able to share details soon and will publish information about these in our future subject updates.  

We now have a video available focusing on 3-mark 'Outline' questions.  This looks at requirements and exam answers that achieved different marks across papers.  

We plan to produce different videos to cover different question types in the upcoming months.  

Link to video


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International GCSE Religious Studies

We are introducing six separate entry codes for International GCSE Religious Studies Paper 2 from the June 2024 series onwards.

Centres will now select the entry code that aligns to their chosen religion from the optional modules available, meaning that candidates will receive a smaller paper booklet with only questions aligned to that module. This benefits candidates as they will no longer have to sift through 56 pages of questions to identify the sections and questions relevant to them. We hope this will ease the assessment experience, as there will no longer be any chance of accidentally answering questions on the ‘wrong’ religion.

The change to entry codes will not affect your teaching or your students’ learning in any way. This new approach to making entries is designed to more directly reflect the way the qualification is taught. The change is purely an administrative one and has no impact on the content of the specification.

A further environmental benefit of this approach is the reduction of unnecessary printing and shipping of paper through reducing the size of the examination booklets by approximately 80%.

Entry codes for Linear Religious Studies International GCSE

Entry Option Title
4RS1 A Religious Studies (Paper 1) & (Paper 2: Buddhism)
4RS1 B Religious Studies (Paper 1) & (Paper 2: Christianity)
4RS1 C Religious Studies (Paper 1) & (Paper 2: Hinduism)
4RS1 D Religious Studies (Paper 1) & (Paper 2: Islam)
4RS1 E Religious Studies (Paper 1) & (Paper 2: Judaism)
4RS1 F Religious Studies (Paper 1) & (Paper 2: Sikhism)

Entry codes for Modular Religious Studies International GCSE

Entry Option Title
4WRS1   Religious Studies (Unit 1) 
4WRS1 A Religious Studies (Unit 2) Buddhism
4WRS1 B Religious Studies (Unit 2) Christianity
4WRS1 C Religious Studies (Unit 2) Hinduism
4WRS1 D Religious Studies (Unit 2) Islam
4WRS1 E Religious Studies (Unit 2) Judaism
4WRS1 F Religious Studies (Unit 2) Sikhism

Teaching and Learning Support

Every month, we release an edition of 'Topic of the Month' with the aim of supporting cultural capital and stimulating discussion within the classroom. 

Each edition ties a current news event to our qualification content and enables students to see the bigger picture of what they are learning and how it relates to the world around them.  Each edition includes a link to an article alongside some key discussion questions to encourage thought around the subject.  

This month looks at an article about the debate in the Church of England about the introduction of prayers of blessing, for same-sex couples, known as Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF). 

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Enrichment opportunities and CPD

Candle Conferences run a range of events for teachers and students focused on GCSE and A level Religious Studies. 

They offer bespoke events, online events and teacher CPD Inset.  In the upcoming months, they are offering:

  • God and the Good (AS/A level)
  • The Puzzle of Christianity (AS/A level)
  • Heaven? (GCSE)
Candle conference leaflet

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NATRE are hosting their Strictly RE conference virtually again in January 2024 and we are excited to be attending as an exhibitor.  

We hope you can also attend and I look forward to seeing you there!

Subject advisor


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