Religious Studies & Philosophy

"Religion matters to those to whom it matters"
This remark from Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies at the University of Edinburgh during her St Cat’s Presents… lecture a few years ago, struck me as remarkably pertinent. Learning about religion is important and relevant to understanding the modern world. As such educated people need to know what and why others believe and understand how and why this might affect their lives.

My intention is that students should leave St Catherine’s with an ability both to appreciate and to appraise religious belief and practice. Of course, one can appreciate another’s way of seeing the world and of doing things without necessarily choosing to adopt those ways as one’s own. Balancing tolerance and respect for others with critical engagement and rational analysis is the intellectual tightrope students of Religious Studies must walk. Perhaps too, students will come to reflect on their own core values in a similar balanced way. Religious Studies explores what it means to be human after all. It is my intention that girls of all beliefs and none thoroughly enjoy their study of religion with us at St Catherine's.

Cecilia Scott, Head of RS

Staff List

Ms Cecilia Scott
A Philosophy graduate from Sheffield University, Cecilia has taught in Surrey since obtaining her RS PGCE in Liverpool. She completed her Masters in Religion and Philosophy from Heythrop College, University of London in 2006. She serves on a Consultation Forum for Religious Studies at OCR. Her academic interests are Religious Ethics, Contemporary Christian Theology, with a particular focus on Social Justice and Liberation Theology. Interfaith dialogue has also become of ever increasing interest. Cecilia has worked in collaboration with Dr James Hodkinson, Head of German at The University of Warwick on his Two Chairs Exchange outreach project. The focus of Dr Hodkinson’s research is the history of the interface between Islam and Europe. Outside of RS, Cecilia completed her 200 hours Yoga Teacher training and has become an accredited teacher with Yoga Alliance. She now teaches Yoga to senior girls at St Catherine’s. She continues to develop her personal Ashtanga yoga practice, and her yoga studies have also stimulated a new research interest in Vedic scripture and Hindu culture.

Mrs Izzy McLean
Whilst already a St Cats parent, joined the staff in January 2010 as an RS teacher and became Housemistress of Russell Baker in 2016.  Has a BA in Theology from Exeter and a lifelong passion for Philosophy of Religion.  Extra curricular interests include amateur dramatics, theatre and reading. 

Rev. Benji McNair Scott
Joined St Catherine’s as a teaching chaplain in September 2012. Before getting ordained he was a curate at Christ Church, Guildford and Assistant Chaplain at King Edward’s School, Witley. He then became a teacher at All Hallows in Farnham teaching RS, Theology and Philosophy. Has recently completed his doctorate in Theology having spent the last five years looking at the ‘charismatic apostolate’. He loves reading and watching films; playing Fives and racquet sports and scooting with his children.

Miss Laura White
After studying English Literature at Cambridge, and exploring careers options in her twenties, Miss White completed a Masters in Theology, and a PGCE in Religious Studies. A life-long learner, and self-professed geek, she enjoys singing in her church worship band and walking her naughty lurcher in the lovely Surrey Hills. Miss White heads up Digital Learning at St. Catherine's and is also Head of Department for Life Matters (PSHE).

Mrs Claire Wyllie
Joined St Catherine’s in 2002 as Head of Religious Studies, before becoming Head of Sixth Form in 2007 and Director of Staff in 2016. Subject specialisms and interests include Philosophy Religion, New Testament and Christology. Extra-curricular interests include music, theatre and travel.

Curriculum - AS/A Level

Examination Board: OCR

A Level Specification

Why study Religious Studies?

Does God exist? Why is there evil and suffering in the world? Does science fatally challenge belief in God? How do we decide between right and wrong? What is our conscience and are we really free? If you have ever wondered about the answers to questions such as these, then Religious Studies is the subject for you! When you study religion, you study what people live for and what they die for; what they love most and what they hate most; how they make sense of the world and how they shape the world.

The world urgently needs more people who are good at thinking about religion. For good and for ill – globally, nationally and locally – religion makes a difference to the world. It makes a difference to politics, to society, to families, to education, to culture, and to economics. Religion is too important and too powerful to be left to the large number of people who don’t think about it. We invite you to become one of the people who think deeply and intelligently about religion.

Course Content

  • Philosophy of Religion: Arguments for the existence of God; challenges to God’s existence and the problem of evil, the nature of God and Religious Language
  • Ethics: a study of ethical theories, for example, Natural Law, Kant and Utilitarianism, and applied ethics, for example, medical ethics and sexual ethics and business ethics. The nature and role of conscience in ethics.
  • Developments in Christian Thought: Human nature, death and the afterlife, the nature of revelation, religious pluralism and society, feminist theology, liberation theology, religion and the challenge of secularism.


There is no coursework.
A level: 3 x 2 hour written examinations. 

Curriculum - GCSE

Examination Board: AQA

GCSE Short Course RS Specification

GCSE Full Course RS Specification

We start the RS GCSE course in Upper 4. In the fifth form all girls continue with GCSE study in RS. They have the option of sitting the GCSE Short Course, and taking this public examination at the end of the Lower 5. Alternatively they can opt for Full Course GCSE. A brief outline of the course in KS4 is below.


Short Course

  • Muslim beliefs
  • Religion and conflict

Full Course: 

  • Christian beliefs and practices
  • Muslim beliefs and practices
  • Religion and conflict

U5 (Full Course)

  • Religion and relationships
  • Religion and conflict
  • Religion and Human Rights
  • Religion Crime and Punishment

Curriculum - KS3


  • Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish life
  • The Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus
  • Development of the Church

The Upper 3  course fits together as a story of key figures in Jewish scripture, then enabling students to make links with how Christianity emerges from these roots. Students then study the life of Jesus, followed by the effects of Pentecost, up to the present day.


  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Sikhism

The Lower 4 course is a study of world religions.  


  • GCSE – Christian beliefs
  • GCSE – Religion and relationships

In the the Upper 4 we begin our GCSE studies.  



  • Church of England - includes its history, liturgy, relations with other faiths and current news. Particularly useful are the church's views on a range of issues, from abortion and euthanasia to animal welfare and capital punishment.
  • The Bible Gateway - a tool for reading and researching scripture online in the language or translation of your choice.


Philosophy :

Various A-Z websites and resources:

  • BBC Religion & Ethics - BBC Online's site sets out to "reflect and illuminate the full spectrum of faith and religious belief which makes up the UK's diverse society, and build bridges of knowledge and understanding between faiths and cultures". It has detailed information on eight major faiths and a section on ethics which discusses current issues such as cloning. There is a news section and the site is constantly updated.
  • British Humanist Association
  • Catholic Agency for Overseas Development
  • Christian Aid
  • GCSE Bitesize: Religious Studies - BBC website providing revision materials and online tests for all the major themes in GCSE religious studies. Plus a link to the BBC Religion and Ethics site and links to other useful RS websites.
  • RE Online - a new initiative, which has incorporated the REsite, and will grow to become a complete virtual RE Resources Centre.
  • Religions of the World - from the BBC World Service. Extensive material on Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Sikhism.