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The Theology Faculty in a Benedictine community such as Downside aims to understand the Catholic mind and character, and, where appropriate, help form intelligent minds and characters.

Religious Studies

Downside is a Catholic school in the Clifton Diocese, and all Catholic schools in England and Wales are required by the Bishops to allow Religious Studies 10% of academic curriculum time at from 11-16: it is regarded as ‘the core of the core curriculum’ and is a compulsory element for all pupils.

In First to Third Form the Department will be implementing the new Religious Education Directory approved by the Bishops of England and Wales from September 2023 following the Spirit and Life resource.

At GCSE we follow the AQA Syllabus B covering Catholic Christianity and Judaism with moral themes.

At A Level, Edexcel Religious Studies with modules covering Philosophy of Religion, Ethics and New Testament, offers the opportunity to examine in detail some of the questions that most people ask at some point. Can we prove the existence of God? Is there life after death? How can a good and loving God allow such suffering? It also looks in detail at an ancient text, the Fourth Gospel, and analyses signs and symbolism. It examines the meaning of such crucial events in human history as the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Students are introduced to both philosophical and theological approaches: this is a demanding but rewarding course, offering an academic approach to the study of religion.

The Department has run trips to Rome and a local synagogue and mosque in recent years.

General Religious Studies

In the Sixth Form in both years one lesson a week is devoted to a General Religious Studies programme as part of fulfilling the requirements of being a Catholic school, but also to continue our offering of a spiritual, moral and cultural education to all pupils. Lessons consist of presentations and discussion. This is run on a carousel system and covers a number of different areas; currently these are:

Lower Sixth Form

Aspects of Augustine and Aquinas; Faith and Culture- Social Teaching of the Church, the Scapegoat Mechanism, Faith and Music, Faith and Literature, Introduction to the Bible; Virtues- Prudence, Love, Courage, Temperance, Faith; Medical and Sexual Ethics- Abortion, Euthanasia, Theology of the Body, the Third Sexual Revolution, Transgender issues.

Upper Sixth Form

Responses to modern questions- Violence and Religion; Making sense of suffering, meaning and purpose, responses to atheism, Science and Religion. The Four Last Things- Death, Judgement, Purgatory, Heaven and Hell; Difficult issues for the Church- the Inquisition, Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust, the Crusades, Just War, corruption and its challenge to faith. World Religions-Catholicism and World Religions, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism.

Head of Theology

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