A-level Religious Studies survey

What difference does A-Level Religious Studies make? A two-year investigation of the effects of study upon students' beliefs, values and worldviews.

Co-Investigators: Professor Leslie Francis (Warwick University Religions and Education Research Unit) and Dr Stephen Parker (University of Worcester and Associate Fellow of WRERU) in collaboration with the St Mary's Centre. The project is funded by the St. Peter’s Saltley and St. Gabriel’s Trust.



Among students studying A-level RS are those with a religious faith and those of no particular faith commitment, making a study of attitudinal change potentially fascinating. Who are these students? What do they currently believe about the transcendent? What is their moral outlook and attitude to faith (their own and others)? Does doing A-level alter any of this?

Given that amongst the key aims of the subject at A-level are that they ‘use an enquiring, critical and empathetic approach to the study of religion’ (Edexcel RS GCE ‘A’ level Specification 2007), and that students are encouraged to ‘reflect on and develop their own values, opinions and attitudes in the light of their learning.’ (AQA, Religious Studies A-level specification, 2008), one wonders whether these aims of academic and personal change are in any way achieved and, specifically, whether they particularly impact upon those studying their own faith critically for the first time.

Typically, for example, amongst some Christians, beginning the academic study of religion has often been met with a sense of personal crisis and the need to either rebut or accommodate the ‘new knowledge’ presented. Is this challenge to existing faith true of those of any faith (or none)? Specifically, do students find studying their own faith, and the critical questions required by study at this level in religious philosophy of challenge, and how do they respond? Is the experience of doing RS a stormy one in terms of the challenge it presents to students’ worldviews? Does students’ faith or their attitude to faith change as a result of study? In what ways does students’ attitude to their faith or their values change (if at all)? Does the study of A-level RS impact upon students of faith differently to those of no self described faith commitment? Little comparative research has been carried across faith perspectives (and non-faith groups) to explore the relative attitudinal and values changes across groups resulting from the A-level experience.

This survey is now closed.

Publication download

Download the full list of publications from this project (including abstracts).

If you would like to read more about any of these publications, please contact the St Mary's Centre.