Skip to content ↓

Secondary: Religious education and philosophy

Who is this course for?

The world is shaped and defined by global and historical patterns of religion and belief. This course is for people who wish to help students engage critically with religion and philosophy, giving them the knowledge to navigate this complex world.

Candidates come from a wide variety of backgrounds: some come straight from university; others from some experience in the education sector; others from different professions; others after having completing Masters or PhDs; others still from third-sector organisations. What unites these people is a shared understanding that the teaching of RE and philosophy is utterly essential, exciting, and valuable to secondary students.

Trainee teachers in RE and philosophy could have a degree-level qualification in a cognate subject, such as religious studies, theology, divinity, world religions, Arabic studies, Asian and Middle Eastern studies, philosophy of religion, philosophy, or philosophy and ethics. This course could also be suitable for appropriately qualified graduates in other related disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, or anthropology, if they have the interest, motivation, and ability to develop specialist subject knowledge related to RE and philosophy.

Furthermore, this course is for people who believe that the training of RE and philosophy teachers needs to be rigorous. 

What will I study?

Trainees will explore critically the nature of the subject and its knowledge basis, the history of RE in its national context, what is considered to be controversial about the subject, the way in which ‘religious education’ connects to the disciplines of religious studies, philosophy, and theology, and the importance and value of the subject in the curriculum.

The course places an emphasis on the powerful knowledge of religion and beliefs that students today require. It emphasises the contribution of religion to pupils’ cultural literacy. Above all, the course places a strong emphasis on the ability to explore interconnected philosophical and theological questions in an academic and scholarly way.

Trainees will consider how pupils grasp philosophical, religious, and theological concepts that unlock belief systems and worldviews. Enabling students to grasp the architecture of thought within, for example, Christian, Islamic, or Hindu worldviews endows students with the conceptual tools to be able to understand faiths in a meaningful way. Trainees relatedly explore how pupils understand the ways in which actions become representations and expressions of meaning and belief.

That all belief systems take place in a complex and interconnected world requires practitioners of RE and philosophy to be dissatisfied with over-simplistic accounts of beliefs. Worldviews and the ways in which they are expressed are neither uniform nor static. Thus, trainees will look at the ways in which pupils’ understanding reflects honestly the global and historical reach and diversity (the variety and extent) of faith, religion, and belief, as well as the idea of contested histories. The contribution of religious belief and philosophy to culture also means that trainees need to be able to teach students to decode the very culture in which they inhabit.

The realm of belief, worldview, and faith is completely saturated with questions, arguments and debates. Is the material world all that there is? What, if anything, constitutes ‘ultimate reality’? What does it mean to exist? Does God exist and, if so, to what extent does God interact with humanity? What is truth? These questions are interesting and important to young people. As a result, trainees will study the ways of exploring issues of truth, proof, and evidence with students in a theologically and philosophically sophisticated way.

How will I learn to teach RE and philosophy well?

Through professional practice and through critically reflecting on your own practice. Your school placements within the course will give you the opportunity to teach, to observe, to practise, to experiment, and to innovate. You have the opportunity to reflect upon your own practice within your school context. As a course entitlement, you will have the time to discuss this with you school-based subject mentor; you can then identify the ways in which you need to develop as a specialist and as a professional. What results is a highly personalised programme in which, through dialogue with your mentor, you develop your teaching style, practice, and ideas in a bespoke way.

Through participating within a community of practitioners, which includes other trainees on the same course, mentors, and the subject specialist leader (SSL) at the Inspiration Trust. Mentors and SSLs are teachers of RE and philosophy who have reputations at the regional and national level. As a trainee, you become part of this interconnected web of professionals, all of whom are developing and promoting the subject. You will have the opportunity to observe some of these professionals at work; to discuss with them the challenges and opportunities you experience; to learn from them and their various approaches to the discipline. As part of your teacher training programme, you will receive subject-based enhancement with curriculum experts who specialise in the practice of RE, as well as the academic disciplines of religion, theology, and philosophy. Both participation in this community and participation in the discussions taking place throughout it are essential to learning to teach RE and philosophy well.

Through engaging critically with the religiously and philosophically shaped world around. Religious communities and people of different worldviews exist alongside each other in a complicated world. The faith communities, belief-based institutions, religious buildings and religio-historical artefacts of the local area are a powerful source of knowledge and, in a number of important cases, also dialogue partners in the teaching of living world faiths. RE and philosophy challenges its students to see their situated place in culture, thought, and belief; the subject demands its practitioners to rise to that same challenge and, in turn, to guide students through it as well.

Through developing your knowledge as a professional and as a subject specialist. First, the course is designed to induct you into the knowledge about your subject specialism. The teaching of religion and philosophy has a long and multifaceted history within the UK; in order to define and to sharpen your own approach to teaching RE and philosophy, you will be required to grasp the traditions of practitioners who have preceded you. Second, you will deepen your knowledge within your subject specialism. You will read and discuss works by academic theologians and philosophers and consider their place in the teaching of religion and philosophy; you will expand your knowledge of religious practice; you will deepen your knowledge of religious texts and their interpretations; you will widen your horizons with profound philosophical writings. Third, you will develop professional knowledge to support your subject specialism. You will survey a range of educational research pieces which shape your teaching practice as you have a better understanding about learning, reading and memory.

In these ways and others, the course will develop you as a scholarly and able practitioner, one who is conferred with the knowledge and skill to become a leading voice within the field of religious and philosophical education.

How much funding will I get?

Trainees will be eligible for a bursary of £9,000 to help fund the course. You can find more information about funding and bursaries on the UCAS website and Get Into Teaching.

You may be able to apply for a student loan to help pay your tuition fee or living costs - please visit www.gov.uk/student-finance for further information.