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Philosophy, Religion & Sociology

A central purpose of education is the development of wisdom, and since philosophies and religions possess some of the most profound wisdom in their teachings and their scriptures, philosophical and religious education has a significant contribution to make.

Throughout their philosophical and religious education pupils will learn both about and from philosophy and religion. Learning about philosophy and religion ensures that philosophical and religious education provides breadth and balance in both content and approaches to learning so that young people become religiously literate. Learning from philosophy and religion ensures that young people are able: a) to create meaning, find relevance and develop personally from their engagement with philosophical and religious education; and b) to explore human experience and questions by addressing values, ultimate questions and fundamental concerns about themselves and the world in which they live.

Our syllabus enables pupils to work in depth and to develop a coherent understanding of philosophies and religions. By the end of their primary school education pupils will have studied all six major religions in some depth, with primary focus on learning about these belief systems. All six are re-visited in the secondary school, with primary focus on learning from these belief systems. Coherence and progression of education are of vital importance, and a seamless progression of education from Form L1 through Form 6 is reflective of our policy. In Forms 1 and 2 all six major religions are studied in a systematic framework, with each examined in the context of their central tenets of belief and their response to contemporary moral issues. In addition, pupils are introduced to other philosophical and religious views, which inform people’s perspective on the world and are used to justify their moral decisions. In Forms 3 and 4, the focus of study becomes more directed towards normative ethics. Current moral issues are examined and pupils are introduced to the philosophic and religious commitments, which direct individual and corporate moral decision-making. Pupils also are encouraged to formulate and rationally justify their own moral point of view on each of the issues examined. In Forms 5 and 6 pupils are invited to pursue SQA Higher qualifications in Philosophy and Religious Moral and Philosophical Studies.

Pupil experiences from the department have included visits to religious places of worship, memorial sites, the Scottish Parliament, and annual visits to the police headquarters in Dundee. Additionally, co-curricular clubs within the department include the Philosophy Club and the Justice Society. The department has a strong history of helping pupils to achieve excellent results on their SQA Higher exams in our subjects. And, in addition to providing courses for all pupils in the senior school, the department is also responsible for delivering courses for the transitional years of L6-L7 in the junior school. Teachers in the department are fully registered GTCS subject specialists (in philosophy, religious studies, and sociology), who have completed post-graduate and doctoral work in philosophy and religious studies, and have experience teaching at university. The teachers are also involved in writing and publishing academic articles in the field, as well as presenting academic papers at international conferences. Specialist areas include philosophy of religion, Christianity, metaphysics, modern and contemporary philosophy, criminal justice, and ethics. The teachers have a range of religious and pastoral experiences within Scotland, as well as ranging from southern Africa to the most northern regions of North America.