Religious Studies Academy Masterclass 2017–18 For Students Years 12–13 (Bloomsbury Baptist Church, London)

26th January 2018 @ 10:00 AM – 3:45 PM
Bloomsbury Baptist Church, London
235 Shaftesbury Ave
London WC2H 8EP
Academy Conferences
07979 524 277
The CourseThe TopicsThe SpeakersWhat Students SayWhat Teachers SayDetails and Bookings

The Course

These are the most highly respected and popular events for A level Philosophy, Religion and Ethics students in the UK. Academy Conferences has a long-standing established association with lecturers from the University of Oxford, as well as all the UK exam boards. This ensures the highest quality of reliable provision.

All new lectures and notes.
Energetic interactive sessions.
Reliable knowledge.

Representatives from the University of Oxford and Liverpool Hope University will attend these events for informal discussion about applications with staff and students.

Whatever exam board you study with the Academy Conferences Masterclass 2017/18 is the best choice for you

The Topics

Ethical Frameworks. A Dialogue with Bentham and Kant – Professor Keith Ward

Both Kant and Bentham thought that there was just one supreme principle of morality, but they differed about what it was – the Categorical Imperative or the Greatest Happiness principle.

Is the Categorical Imperative a way of resolving moral problems? What are the key working assumptions, and how does Bentham’s Utilitarian framework differ from this? How far are these two ethical theories consistent with religious moral decision making and in what ways does subjectivity and relativism challenge both? The strengths and weaknesses of reason as a basis for morality will be considered.

Sexual Ethics. Without God, is everything permitted? – Dr John Frye

An exploration of the sexual ethics dialogue between religion and society. Does religion have a continuing role in sexual ethics or not? Are choices personal and private or should they be subject to societal norms and legislation? An examination will be made of the changing relationship between religious views and societal norms with an evaluation of causes of change in attitudes and beliefs about human relationships. Changing attitudes to the following will be examined, with close reference to relevant scholarly works such as Pope Paul VI Humanae Vitae, and JS Mill on Liberty: cheating (do telling lies, breaking promises and adultery matter?) faithful love, extramarital sex, free love, chastity, cohabitation, the commercialization of relationships, homosexuality and transgender issues

Religious Language. Is it true that only ‘God speaks well of God?’ – Julie Arliss

The difficulties of using language about the quantum world are understood and accepted, yet God is often talked about in language at a level suitable for a seven year old. There is in fact a rich discourse between theology and philosophy concerning the meaningfulness of religious language. This session will map the key ideas and introduce the important themes. The very different questions asked by philosophers such as Wittgenstein and Ayer, and theologians such as Aquinas and Karl Barth will be identified to give students a clear handle
on this complicated topic. Cognitive and non-cognitive approaches will also be evaluated and students given tools for critical evaluation.

The One Big Question: What is the meaning of life? – Dr Tim Mawson

What is the meaning of life? Does life have any meaning? Is whatever meaning it can have something for us to discover or something for us to create? Would God make any difference to how meaningful life was if He existed? Would that difference be good – would God’s having a purpose for us, say, make our lives more meaningful? We’d be here to do something. Or would it be bad? Would His having a purpose for us reduce our scope for permissible self-creative autonomy, making us into mere artifacts, slaves to another. If death is permanent annihilation does that make our lives beforehand more meaningful, or less? All that Dr Mawson promises is that, after listening to him, you’ll be wondering all the more deeply whether or not your life really has any meaning.

Debate: This house believes it is non-rational to believe in God – key questions about ‘proofs’ for the existence of God in a nutshell.

Professor Keith Ward, Julie Arliss and Dr Timothy Mawson, will present different views about belief in God. Is it rational, irrational or non-rational to believe in the existence of God? This session will include arguments for and against the existence of God as well as discussion about the relationship between faith and reason. How have ideas about human rationality and religion within philosophy developed over time, and what is to be made of the different truth claims made by different religions? Does science show that belief in God is irrational? A lively debate with contributions from students warmly encouraged.

The Speakers

Julie Arliss

Recently awarded a Farmington Fellowship from Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Julie Arliss is a well-known experienced teacher and author. She works closely with exam boards and is perfectly placed to support students in preparation for A level examinations. She is an experienced examiner and also a member of the Religious Studies CPD team for the largest RS ‘A’ level examination board in the UK. Julie has an international reputation for inspiring academic excellence and encouraging students to push the boundaries of knowledge.

Professor Keith Ward

Professor KeithWard is Regius Professor Emeritus of Divinity at Oxford and was Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion at King’s College, London. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the executive Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy. He is currently publishing academic work on the development of Ethical thinking and holds an academic chair at Heythrop College, London.

Dr Tim Mawson

Dr Tim Mawson is a hugely popular lecturer and tutor at St Peter’s College, Oxford. He has a witty engaging style that accelerates students’ insight and understanding with gritty intellectual challenges. He was educated at St Peter’s College and then at The Queen’s College, in Oxford. He held a number of temporary lectureships in Oxford before returning to St Peter’s, Oxford, in 1998, where he is now one of two Philosophy Fellows. He is Secretary to the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion.

Dr John Frye

Dr. John Frye has just completed both text books for the new specification for AQA. He is possibly the most experienced examiner in the country and is relied upon by a number of exam boards for his highly skilled approach to paper development and testing. He continues to teach ‘A’ level and is therefore quite uniquely placed to offer genuine knowledge of A level in a fast-paced accessible style. He has an awesome intellect and engages students with his dry light-hearted wit. His talks are always perfectly pitched and encourage an expansive attitude to knowledge.

What Students Say

“I am so glad I got to the conference this year. Speaking to others, we all agreed that it allowed us to see our course in a different and broader context. It was lovely engaging in our subject in a way that goes beyond our textbooks. Listening to speakers who knew about Philosophy and were passionate about it, reminded me why I chose to study RS”.

“I found the conference to be very interesting and enriching – both for the content and philosophy as a whole. It rejuvenated our passion for philosophy and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to attend. Thank you very much!”

“LOVED IT! It was amazing and really useful. Julie Arliss’ talks linked in with what we’ve been doing, and all the speakers were so interesting!”

“I enjoyed how the speakers were so enthusiastic about their subjects and came up with interactive analogies that people could relate to.”

What Teachers Say

“My students enjoyed the day and found the lecturers excellent in their knowledge. They left with lots of new questions and were ‘buzzing’ on the journey back home.”

“We really enjoyed the day. The location I thought was great and the presentations were perfectly pitched – we will be joining you again at future conferences.”

“Well we had a great day with you lot in Manchester!! Thank you so much. So pleased with the pitch, the content etc. A big thumbs up from Winstanley!!! Also we will definitely see you next year too!!!!”

“We really enjoyed the venue, location and talks, particularly the aspect of interaction and content. Credit should be given to Julie Arliss; a competent and engaging public speaker”

“My students loved it! In fact, even after having their brains fried, they still wanted more. Thank you again for another fantastic event and I look forward to bringing my students again in future.”

Details and Bookings

Arrival from 09.30. The programme begins promptly at 10.00 and concludes at 15.15.
Note: times for London conference as follows: 10.00 arrival; 10.30 start; 15.45 finish.



A fixed fee of £23 if paid by BACS or cheque prior to conference (£25 if paid by PayPal or credit card). We have access to sponsorship for students wishing to attend but for whom the cost is a significant challenge for their families. Please contact us for further details. Students will need to bring their own equipment and refreshments. Please note that we do not allow recordings of the day.


A fixed fee of £23, if paid by BACS or cheque prior to conference (£25 if paid by PayPal or credit card). One free staff place with every 12 students booked. Unaccompanied teachers attending for CPD to pay £195. Staff are warmly invited to join the team for informal discussion over break and lunch with refreshments provided.


These events fill quickly but we appreciate that it can take time to get paperwork in place and collect money from students. If unable to pay at the time of booking please note that you may secure
your places by booking online and making a small deposit of £70 via our online payment system. This will be offset against your final invoice total. The deposit is non-refundable in circumstances where the full invoice is not met, or payment is received after conference

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