What’s New? An A Level Digest

May 2022

Written by Rachael Jackson-Royal our Post -16 digest is full of interesting, useful and relevant books, articles, videos and podcasts. Whether to develop and improve your own development and understanding, or to bring to the classroom, you will find fresh ideas for A Level.

Sign up here to receive it straight to your inbox.

Rachael Jackson-Royal is head of department of RE and is the exams and higher education officer on the NATRE executive.


Good book(s): Man’s search for Meaning by Victor Fankl and Night by Elie Wiesel

I read these books a few years ago and I think they go really well with units on the Problem of Evil. In particular, I think that they offer useful insights into Hick’s theory of whether or not experiencing evil can transform the person from the image of God into the likeness of God (i.e. from bios to zoe). They offer different ways that this question can be answered; which is why I think it is useful to read both so that various views can be explored. This could be supplemented by reading other books that focus on this area as well. Having read these books, I think:

  1. This is a very accessible read for A level students and teachers a like.
  2. They can form part of a personal statement if someone is applying to study the subject and its related disciplines at university.
  3. Time should be spent discussing these books in order to provide concrete examples to go with Hick’s soul making theodicy. Focus in particular on whether these stories show whether evil can ever be constructive or if it is only destructive.


Interesting research: A new dialogue between biblical scholarship and Religious Education

If you are teaching Christianity at GCSE or A level, I would highly recommend this article. In this piece, Professor Docherty explains how there is a need to understand the New Testament writings and the early Jesus movement in particular in light of second temple Judaism. For example, she discusses how other Jewish groups at this time had practices and beliefs in common with Jesus and his followers including similar ideas surrounding the Messiah which differ from a Davidic like warrior figure often portrayed in the bible. Professor Docherty also highlights ideas surrounding alternative views which try to solve the problem of human suffering and how an understanding of these would be useful inclusions in the Problem of Evil units for the A level. The link to the summary of this article (which includes the link for the full one) is: What Can RE Teachers Learn From Contemporary Biblical Studies? – RE:ONLINE (reonline.org.uk)

A website: Buddhism teaching resources, Edinburgh University

Although these resources are aimed at those teaching at the GCSE level, they are also incredibly useful for the A level. This is because they provide an in depth focus on specific topic areas which will greatly improve any teacher’s subject knowledge. On this site, there are recordings of previous talks on various topics surrounding Buddhism as well as links to helpful resources. These are always organised around a theme. For example, this year the theme has been who was the Buddha? The episodes featured in this series include: the Buddha in modern Buddhism; the Buddha among Buddhas; The Buddha as a social reformer; and the Buddha in Buddhist practice. Previous years series are also found on their website. The link to their site is: Who is the Buddha series – Buddhism Teaching Resources (ed.ac.uk)

A good watch: Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Nottingham University, Video Gallery

Nottingham University have put together a series of videos which link to many of the topics found on various A level specifications. Most of these entail interviews with academic staff who specialise in a particular area. For example, there are clips which focus on: the analogy of being; the five ways of Aquinas; miracles; and Augustine and human nature. They are incredibly useful and will really help you improve your subject knowledge. The clips can be found here: Video gallery – The University of Nottingham

You may also be interested in...

Previous A Level Digests

Find them all here