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Effective note-taking is an essential skill at A-level. Check out this video guide on the Cornell system from Atomi. Expand your margin, splitting the page into two columns. Now in the wider margin, write down key words and questions you come across (cues). In the main column, write down the main pieces of content (responses). At the bottom, write down a summary of what you've read.

Not only are you helping to chunk together information, improving recall, but the notes you write will become a great revision tool. Simply cover the response column, and use the cue to test yourself. Regular self-testing is key to embedding knowledge into your long-term memory.

Download the Cornell Notes template


Essential reading

Your Textbook

Oxford A Level Religious Studies for OCR: Year 1 and Year 2 Student Book.

Libby Ahluwalia and Robert Bowie

You should be reviewing your textbook regularly, using the Cornell sheet to help you make notes, checking it against the specificiation. Remember the material on Philosophy Cat (videos, extracts, knowledge organisers) is to compliment, and not a substitute for your textbook. At the same time, you will need to go beyond the textbook to hit the higher grade bands.

All students will be given a copy of the textbook in September when starting the course, and will be expected to return their textbooks at the end of the course.

Model Essays

Model Essays for OCR GCE Religious Studies and Model Essays 2: A Practical Guide to Essay-writing for Religious Studies A-level

Peter Baron

Across the year, I will be giving you copies of model essays from A-grade pupils, and asking you to use the essay planning sheet to help you write a 'backwards essay plan'. However, you may want to invest in Peter Baron's collection of model essays or download copies he's uploaded onto the Peped website for free. They can help you with structure and content.

Undergraduate Textbooks

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion.

Brian Davis

Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong

Louis Pojman and James Fieser 

Christian Theology: An Introduction

Alister McGrath

These introductory books are intended for undergradutes but are excellent for each of the units. All are available in the library.

Preparatory Reading for Year 11 pupils

Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy

Simon Blackburn

This short introduction to philosophy is organised by themes: knowledge (epistemology), mind, free will, the self, god, reasoning, the world and what to do. Recommended to me when I studied A-level Philosophy, it introduces readers to some of the key scholars in philosophy, including Plato, Hume, Kant and Descartes, who all appear heavily in the course.

Sophie’s World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy

Jostein Gaarder, Simon Vance et al.

“One day, a 14 year old sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find two notes in her mailbox, with one question on each: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘Where does the world come from?’” so reads the blurb. This best-selling novel aimed for teenagers mixes fiction and non-fiction to introduce you to some key philosophers and their thought.

Blogs, Podcasts and Videos


Need a break from reading? Try these podcasts and videos.

Aeon (ezine)

Aeon is a digital magazine that publishes articles on philosophy.

Crash Course Philosophy (YouTube)

Recommended by one of my students​, who jumped three grades from AS to A-level, Crash Course covers many of the topics, from ethics, to the existence of God

The Cogito (YouTube)

Free tutorial videos.

Closer to Truth (YouTube)

A PBS show which aligns closely to the course. Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews leading philosophers and scholars. 

History of Philosophy without any Gaps (Podcast)

Peter Adamson's project to record the comprehensive history of philosophy, extending beyond the western tradition, to encompass African, Indian and Islamic philosophy.

I Think Therefore I Teach (Website)

Recorded lessons and quizzes. (Youtube)

Robert Wright and Daniel Kaufman interview philosophers, religious scholars, and other interesting people. 

Panpsycast (Podcast)

A philosophy podcast with an impressive list of guests including Peter Singer, Steven Pinker and Dan Dennett.

Peped (website)

Detailed notes, podcast, reading extracts and more.

Philosopher Kings

Focusing on the old Philosophy and DCT units, this website contains extremely detailed notes.

Practical Ethics Blog (blog)

This blog run by the University of Oxford discusses contemporary ethical issues.

Philosophy Cat Book Club

I'm often asked what books I'm reading, or what I recommend from alumni. Below is a selection:

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