The GCSE course involves the study of controversial modern topics such as abortion, euthanasia and nuclear weapons; as well as grappling with timeless questions about death, suffering and the afterlife. In the new GCSE, students will study Christianity and Buddhism. These two religions represent Western and Eastern approaches to morality and spirituality.

Christianity is the dominate religion in the world with 2 billion followers, it has shaped UK law, inspired activists such as Martin Luther King and features in films, TV and news stories. In contrast, Buddhism only has 400 million followers and many Buddhists describe it as a religion-less philosophy. In recent decades Buddhism has grown in popularity and its belief in karma, rebirth and non-belief in God offers contrasting views compared to Christianity.

The GCSE qualification consists of two papers:


Paper 1 – Thematic Studies

Paper 2 – Beliefs, teachings and practices

Religion and Families

Topics include sexual relationships, marriage, divorce and gender roles

Buddhist beliefs and teachings

Topics include story of the Buddha, karma, Four Noble Truths and human purpose

Religion and Life

Topics include euthanasia, abortion, creation and science vs religion

Buddhist practices

Topics include places of worship, chanting, Japanese and Tibetan ceremonies and festivals

Religion, Peace and Conflict

Topics include nuclear weapons, pacifism, The Just War Theory and victims of war

Christian beliefs and teachings

Topics include Jesus, the crucifixion, resurrection and original sin

Religion, Crime and Punishment

Topics include causes of crime, death penalty, community service and rehabilitation

Christian practices

Topics include different types of prayer, pilgrimage, roles of the Church and festivals