Starting A Level Religious Studies

With Dr Peter Vardy, Dr David Webster and a live interview with Dr Bernard Hoose (London and Oxford only)

January / February 2017: 30th Exeter,  31st Bristol, 2nd Cambridge, 3rd Oxford, 6th York, 7th Manchester, 8th Staffordshire, 10th London

LVI Religious Studies students will love this intensive event exploring big questions in the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics with Dr Peter Vardy and Dr David Webster.  Designed to support the NEW 2016 GCE A LEVEL Religious Studies SPECIFICATIONS and focusing on topics specified centrally by the DfE for study at both AS and A Level, therefore common to all examination boards, this event is designed to bring courses to life and open up the possibility of continuing the subject into HE.

Sessions will include…

  • Religious Experience—Reflecting on the validity of basing religious belief on other peoples’ accounts of religious experiences, including personal testimony, Scripture and the question of the places of authority and reason in faith.
  • Arguing for God—Exploring Aquinas’ famous ways to God, considering why he rejected Anselm’s Ontological Argument and the strengths (and weaknesses) of his Cosmological and Teleological Arguments.
  • The Problem of Evil & Suffering—Explaining the logical and evidential problem for religious believers and evaluating two popular theodicies.
  • Natural Law—Analysing Aquinas’ approach to decision making and finding out about modern developments of Natural Law from John Finnis and Bernard Hoose.
  • Debate: “This house sees legalising Euthanasia as the most loving response to suffering!”

Candle’s events offer a rich learning experience. Sessions are pacy, full of current examples, images and film-clips; they are designed to extend and enthuse, building broader subject knowledge and deeper understanding, rather than just rehash the classroom experience or cram for the exam. Nevertheless, content is always relevant to OCR, AQA, Edexcel and Eduqas Religious Studies, IB Philosophy and Pre-U Philosophy & Theology.

A full colour printed 32pg set of high-quality notes (complete with suggested classroom activities relating to each topic and tips for developing strong essay-skills) will be provided to each student, so they have no need to copy down reams of things on the day.  Additional resources will be provided to each participating school electronically.


“Charlotte Vardy conveyed wonderfully how the events of the 20th century shaped not only philosophy, but art and music too. After the horrific blood-shed and devastation of the First World War, there was a strong desire to return to basics, to capture real meaning. The abstract art, the minimalist music and the rise of logical positivism demonstrate this, with philosophers arguing that ‘goodness’ doesn’t exist at all- and who could blame them after the world had endured so much?” Review of Ethics Matters (Oxford) by Sixth Form RS Student, The Abbey School, Reading

Booking Information:

  • Tickets to Starting A Level Religious Studies cost just £20 each, when booked online (a £2.50 booking fee applies per transaction, not per ticket).  Manual bookings (by e-mail, telephone or post) are accepted but tickets booked manually cost £22.50 each to cover the additional cost of administration that this incurs.
  • We offer FREE teacher tickets (including lunch and refreshments) within reason and when accompanying 3 or more students.
  • Participating schools qualify for FREE places at selected Candle INSET events during 2015-16, subject to terms and conditions.
  • Teachers attending student events alone for CPD purposes will be charged £80.
  • Like theatre or cinema tickets, bookings are usually non-refundable unless the event is cancelled by us.  Bookings can be made here, either online using a credit or debit card or manually, by requesting an invoice.
  • Doors open for registration at 9.20am (9.50am in London) for a prompt 10am start (10.30am in London).  Events close by 3.15pm (3.30pm in London)
  • Students should bring a packed lunch, snacks and a water-bottle but we provide a complimentary teachers’ lounge at each venue, serving refreshments at break and lunchtime and providing a book-stall with discounted resources.

“A hugely enriching and informative series of lectures – relevant not only for students preparing for exams but also for young ethicists preparing for the wider world. We come every year!” Carrie Marsden, Taunton School 


Dr Peter Vardy was vice-principal of Heythrop College, the specialist Philosophy and Theology college of the University of London, from 1998-2011. The author of bestselling textbooks “The Puzzle of Ethics” and “Ethics Matters” as well as some 14 other books, countless articles… and those infamous teaching videos… Dr Vardy is a legend in the RS and Philosophy world for his energetic, entertaining lectures which still manage to put across a huge amount of knowledge and understanding.  Attending one of his events is something of a rite of passage for all A Level students and one not to be missed!

Dr David Webster is Subject Group Leader for Religious, Philosophical and Historical Studies at the University of Gloucestershire, which was recently ranked 3rd in the country in the Guardian subject league tables for 2016 for Religious Studies and Philosophy  Dr Webster has worked for various Universities, including Sunderland and Newcastle, has written a number of books and articles on Buddhism, the Philosophy of Religion, the blues and death in religions and presents the popular Philosvids blog, which provides a range of useful video resources on ethics and a host of other topics.  He proved to be a popular guest lecturer at Candle’s Ethics events in February 2015 and 2016, with his Kant slides actually going viral!  You can find out more about him here.

Dr Bernard Hoose lectured in Christian Ethics at Heythrop College, University of London and is a well known Proportionalist whose views are specified for study in several of the new A Level courses.  He was a popular presenter at Candle’s Ethics events in 2011 and his publications include Proportionalism: The American Debate and its European Roots, (Georgetown University Press) 1987 and Received Wisdom? Reviewing the Role of Tradition in Christian Ethics (Geoffrey Chapman, 1994).  Editor of Christian Ethics: An Introduction (Cassell, 1998) as well as Authority in the Roman Catholic Church (Ashgate, 2002) and Authority in Roman Catholicism (Matthew James, 2002), Bernard presently serves on the Theology Commission of Caritas-Social Action.