religious studies in london

Religious Studies (Philosophy & Ethics)

Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber at weekends.
Woody Allen
 The idea of life having a purpose stands and falls with the religious system.
Sigmund Freud 

The study of Philosophy & Ethics is serious fun! Most people accept the beliefs and values of their society without much question. They go along with whatever most people are saying and doing without really wondering why things are as they are.

Other people ask questions about the way the world is and why people do as they do, and they want to find the best and most comprehensive answers that they can. People who have this question-asking urge are drawn to Philosophy.

Religion is a very important area of concern for those interested in philosophy. Religious thinkers have given all sorts of answers to philosophical questions about the way the world is, and thinking about these answers is a way to develop a personal philosophical approach to the world.

Ethics is an area of philosophy concerned with human values and behaviour. Through looking at ethical theory and practical issues such as war and peace, we explore what it means to be a human being and whether there are any fixed moral values in the world.

The AQA Religious Studies (Philosophy and Ethics) is open to those of any religious faith or none, and no Philosophy qualifications or previous study of the subject is required. It is an open and critical approach to the question of what it means to be a human being in the world.

Philosophy & Ethics A level Course Content

Section A: Philosophy of Religion

  • Arguments for the existence of God
  • Evil and suffering
  • Religious experience
  • Religious language
  • Miracles
  • Self and life after death
  • Ethical theories
  • Issues of human life and death
  • Issues of animal life and death
  • Introduction to meta ethics
  • Free will and moral responsibility
  • Conscience
  • Bentham and Kant

Section B: World Religion – Buddhism:

Buddhism, an extraordinarily wise blend of agnostic humanism, rational analysis and spiritual awareness, is fast becoming one of the most popular, thought-provoking and scientifically compatible “religions” in modern Britain. In the second year, our study will include: an introduction to eastern thought and religion; the life and work of the Buddha, the main teachings of the Buddhist world-view and the Buddhist community. We explore meditation, Buddhist Ethics and moral issues, as well as studying the rich and varied forms that the Buddha‟s original thought developed as it moved on into other times and cultures, including Zen and Pure Land, Tibetan Buddhism and modern adaptations of Buddhism in the West.

Philosophy & Ethics Departmental Features

The department has many resources such as an excellent library, videos on individual topics and tutorial help for individual students.

Lively classroom debate and discussion therefore forms a central part of our approach to the subject. In order to help facilitate this, students are encouraged to read widely in philosophy, and to broaden their knowledge of current affairs. Instead of simply considering topics in isolation, the synoptic element of the course means that students must develop a ‘holistic’ approach to the subject.

Philosophy & Ethics Staff

J Chappell
Dr Jonathan Chappell joined Brampton College in September 2006. In addition to Religious Studies, he has experience of teaching a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including Philosophy, Politics, Sociology and Psychology, which reflects his eclectic academic background.

Jonathan holds the following degrees: BA (History and Sociology), University of Surrey; MA (Anthropology and Sociology of Religion) King’s College, London; MSc (Econ) (Political Sociology) London School of Economics and Political Science; MA (Theology) University of Durham; PhD (Anthropology of Religion) University College, London; PGCE Greenwich; MLitt (Theology and Natural Science) Darwin College, Cambridge. Jonathan is currently reading for a research degree in Philosophy at The University of Essex.


Chappell, Jonathan (2012), ‘Raymund Schwager: Integrating the Fall and Original Sin with Evolutionary Theory’, Theology and Science, 10:2, 179-198

Chappell, Jonathan, ‘Rethinking the Historical Fall in the Light of Evolution: F.R. Tennant and After’, Science and Christian Belief, (forthcoming)

Studying Philosophy & Ethics

Religious Studies (Philosophy & Ethics) has the potential to ‘refresh the parts that other subjects cannot reach’ and occupies a unique interface between the students’ academic, intellectual and personal/spiritual development. Thus you could find yourself discussing anything from whether God (or you) exist, to how to live and love wisely, to why it’s OK to eat a fluffy lamb but not a pet. A typical RS lesson is a free and lively space in which students explore and test their own developing ideas and in which integrity is valued over any kind of orthodoxy, religious, secular or establishment.  In short, gently anarchic, serious fun!

The AQA RS syllabus offers the most gob-smacking course in philosophy (east and west) that can possibly be squeezed into the time available, and in this it is perhaps the ideal subject to combine with A levels in both arts and sciences. The depth and variety of essential skills and understanding that an A level in RS provides is an impressive and winning combination for anyone preparing to take an active part in the modern world. The results are encouraging, too, with 75% at A grade over the past five years.



A*/A A*-B Cohort
82% 91% 11

All his teachers were very approachable and supportive but I feel that I must single out Max’s RS teacher, Jonathan, as he is inspirational.”

Mrs Burchett, mother of Max Burchett, A level student

What struck me about Brampton was the energy and the passion of the teachers, which in turn rubbed off on us as students, especially on those days when you lacked the motivation to contribute to a class. The informal nature of the lessons meant that the exchange of ideas was not so much a chore as an enjoyable yet speculative dialogue, not all that different to one you might conduct with your friends”

Roberto Hanna, A level student