Year 9

The Year 9 course looks at the roots and context of a Christian, and particularly a Roman Catholic faith.  The starting point of the course is Benedictine monasticism. Understanding this particular community and its values should set the context for the students’ life here at Ampleforth, and set the scene for a wider study of faith, worship and belief.

Each of the three school terms in Year 9 are themed by a different monastic vow; conversatio morum (conversion of life), obedience and stability.

Conversatio morum’ in the Winter term looks at the transformative power of the religious vocation and scripture.  Scripture is studied by looking at Old Testament and New Testament passages.

Obedience’ in the Lent term looks at Judaism, and then goes on to look at the roots and context of Roman Catholicism.

Stability’ in the Summer term addresses the challenge of how to live as, and remain faithful to, a vocation in the modern world.

The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to Roman Catholic belief, faith and practice.  The focus is on its key tenets, its origins and its practice.  It is viewed in its wider Christian context, and Judaism is also introduced in order to understand the life of Christ and the Old Testament, as well as introducing another major world religion.  The choice of topics has been shaped by the requirements of the Catholic Bishops’ Curriculum Directory for Religious Education in Catholic Schools.

The assessment objectives are that students develop a knowledge and understanding of Christian doctrine and practice, and that they are introduced to certain critical issues in Christian belief, which they learn to evaluate. These skills, appropriate for Year 9 and for the end of key stage 3, nevertheless help to prepare them for the GCSE course (key stage 4).

The topics are studied without prejudice and with open minds. Questioning and analysing are encouraged. An induction period up to the first holiday is an introduction to monasticism. The concept of vocation is examined and St Benedict’s specific vocation is studied. Monastic life in a community is presented and researched, and finally some evaluative work is undertaken.


We teach two papers from AQA Religious Studies specification B: the first paper is Roman Catholicism and the second paper is a combination of ‘Mark’s Gospel’ and Judaism.

Paper 1: Roman Catholicism. We study this unit in Year 10.  Students examine beliefs and practices in the Roman Catholic tradition and how these affect lifestyle and behaviour. Topics that are studied include: creation, incarnation, the Triune God, redemption, church and eschatology.

Paper 2: St Mark’s Gospel and Judaism. We study this unit in the Summer term of Year 10 and Year 11. The study of St Mark’s Gospel concentrates on the life of Jesus and how the Gospel is a source of spiritual truth. Students are also given the opportunity to explore the beliefs and practices of Judaism as another world religion.

A Level

We teach three modules in the A level course following the OCR Religious Studies specification:

Paper 1: Philosophy of Religion. Students study philosophical language and thought, and issues and questions raised by belief. Topics include: the nature of the soul, mind and body, arguments about the existence or non-existence of God, the challenge for religious belief posed by the problem of evil.

Paper 2: Ethics. Students explore key concepts and the works of influential thinkers, ethical theories and their application. Students also investigate issues surrounding the significant idea of conscience and how developments in religious beliefs have influenced ethical thought.

Paper 3: Developments in Christian Thought: Students undertake a systematic study of Christianity which includes:

  • Religious beliefs, values and teachings, their interconnections and how they vary historically and in the contemporary world.
  • Practices which shape and express religious identity, and how these vary within a tradition.
  • Significant social and historical developments in theology and religious thought
  • Key themes related to the relationship between religion and society.

Core Christian Theology programme

This is for student in the middle sixth (Year 12) who decides not to take the Christian Theology A level. This is a weekly programme that gives insight into the history of Christianity and Roman Catholicism. It also offers an opportunity for students to explore ethical and philosophical issues and ask critically questions about ultimate questions and our existence.