A to Z of Religion and Beliefs

An animated A to Z guide for pupils aged 11-14 that explores and introduces a variety of religious topics.

Alongside each film, there is more information about the content and suggestions of how it could be used in the classroom.

The films are hosted on an external, non-BBC platform. The BBC cannot take any responsibility for recommendations or content promoted by third party sites.

A is for Atheism

A - Teacher resources

This animation introduces the topics of Atheism and Humanism. Atheists are described as people who do not need religious explanations, or the promise of an afterlife, to see value in the human experience. This film explores whether this way of thinking could be considered a faith in itself.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask pupils to define Atheism, Humanism, and the concept of faith. You could discuss the relationship between religious belief and morality. You could also discuss with pupils the relationship between religious belief and science, and talk about whether religion is necessary to see meaning in life.

B is for Burka

B - Teacher resources

This animation explores how items such as the Kippah and the Turban can strengthen beliefs and communities. These special garments can remind the wearer and others of what they believe in and who they are, sometimes causing controversy in the process. This film shows that being free to choose what you wear can be at the heart of your religious experience.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask pupils to talk about the significance of the Kippah and the Sikh Turban. Pupils could talk about what the Qur’an says about a woman’s clothes and discuss the importance of modesty in Christianity and Islam.

C is for Creation Stories

C - Teacher resources

This quirky animation explores the accounts of creation found in the Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Islamic traditions. While these stories often disagree about how and when creation happened, they all tell us that a God was behind the scenes. Science, on the other hand, does away with God, relying on the Big Bang Theory and Evolution to explain how the world as we know it came to be.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask pupils if they think Science and Religion can coexist. The class could split into groups to debate from the different perspectives.

D is for Darwin

D - Teacher resources

This animated film explores the work of Charles Darwin, who is known for this Theory of Evolution. Following extensive travels across the world, Darwin managed to make a lot of enemies by demonstrating that humans belong in the animal kingdom, and that all life on Earth descends from a common ancestor. This film examines how Darwin’s ideas contrast with the teachings of the Bible, and whether the two really are at odds.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask pupils to compare Darwin’s evolutionary theory with the Christian genesis, and discuss whether evolutionary theory is incompatible with religious teachings. Pupils could investigate the historical role of religious institutions in the pursuit of science.

E is for Extremism

E - Teacher resources

This engaging animation reviews instances in which religious and political beliefs have been taken to the extreme. Through the use of historical and contemporary examples, this summary shows students that extremist groups are never representative of an entire religion, and that hardship is at the heart of radicalisation.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to discuss the importance of free speech and civilised debate. Pupils could name examples of extremism and when extremism can become harmful, talking about the importance of differentiating between extremist groups and religious institutions.

F is for Forgiveness

F - Teacher resources

This light-hearted summary explores why Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims value forgiveness so highly. Through the use of animated cut-outs, it highlights how some belief systems see the forgiveness of others as key to a healthy relationship with God, while others see it as fundamental for personal well-being.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to discuss the importance of forgiving others, regardless of religion. Pupils could write a short account about a time when they have had to show forgiveness, or have been forgiven. They could discuss the concept of sin and human nature and in groups.

G is for Godesses

G - Teacher resources

This playful animation explores the fundamental role of the feminine in religion. Hindu Goddesses take centre stage as manifestations of the universe’s essence. After delving into the importance of female energy in Christianity, the film introduces students to a very ancient Lady, which many believe to be the mother of all religions and beliefs.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to research Hindu Goddesses and discuss their relationship to Brahman. Students could discuss whether the Christian, Jewish and Muslim God can have a gender, and research the role of Venuses in ancient animistic religions.

H is for Heaven

H is for Heaven

This lively animated film provides a helpful summary of what different religions have to say about heaven. It introduces the various interpretations of heaven and hell found across the Christian faith, and the differences and similarities they share with their Islamic counterparts. The Buddhist concepts of reincarnation and nirvana are also explored.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to discuss the possible different interpretations of heaven and hell found across the Christian faith. Students could compare and contrast Christian and Islamic ideas of the afterlife and research the Buddhist concepts of suffering, reincarnation and nirvana.

I is for Idols and Icons

I - Teacher resources

This animation explains why religions, such as Islam and Judaism, are very wary of the dangers that come with worshipping images of God. It also introduces the concepts of icon and murti, which facilitate the worshippers’ relationship to God in Christianity and Hinduism, respectively.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to discuss the difference between idols and icons. They could discuss the relationship between murti and Brahman in Hinduism, and investigate why many religions seem to think that idolatry is dangerous.

J is for Jesus

J - Teacher resources

This engaging summary explores the life and legacy of Jesus. It details the significance of his life and death in different religious traditions. Students will be introduced to the concepts of resurrections and holy trinity, which make Jesus so special for Christians. The different roles that the Islamic and Jewish tradition have assigned him are also explored.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to discuss the concept of holy trinity. In groups, students could compare and contrast the different roles that Jesus has been assigned in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and discuss why that might be the case.

K is for Kosher

K is for Kosher

This animation summarises the attitudes of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism towards the consumption of animal products. Introducing the rules of Kosher and Halal, which describe which animals can be eaten and how they should be prepared, and explaining the reluctance to eat meat typical of Hindus and Buddhists.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to detail basic aspects of Kosher and Halal rules. Students could investigate why Hindus are reluctant to eat meat and discuss whether they agree or not with the Buddhist suggestion that animal meat should not be consumed on ethical grounds.

L is for Laws

L - Teacher resources

Religions have much to say about right and wrong, but believers can sometimes be torn between the laws of their country and those of their faith. This light-hearted overview explores what Jews, Christians and Muslims think about religious law and introduces them to a variety of ideas, such as the Torah’s Mitzvotz, Christian Canon laws, and Islamic Sharia.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students about the role that religious law plays in the modern world. Students could research how different countries incorporate Sharia law in state Law, and discuss whether state and religious law should be separate.

M is for Meditation and Prayer

M - Teacher resources

This engaging animation introduces students to the role that prayer plays in Christianity, Islam and Sikhism by exploring its purposes, importance and significance. It also explores how Buddhists and Sikhs use meditation.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to discuss the ways in which meditation can be a good everyday practice. Students could describe the differences in how and why Christians and Muslim people pray, and investigate which religion recommends both praying and meditating frequently.

N is for Numbers

N - Teacher resources

An animated top ten of numbers that feature in religion. From Abraham’s ten commandments, to the four noble truths of Buddhism. This film will take students on a journey across religions and cultures to learn about the significance of these special digits.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to talk about the differences between the holy trinity and the trimurti. Students could research in groups the Buddhist way to enlightenment.

O is for Omnis

O - Teacher resources

This engaging animation guides students through this elusive concept by comparing the one God with the many that historically have come before him, showing us what believers mean when they talk about his infinite power.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to define the following words: omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent. Students could discuss how they think the Christian, Muslim and Jewish God is different from ancient gods.

P is for Prophets

P - Teacher resources

This engaging animation provides students with a helpful summary of some of the things that prophets have done. It explores the life, death and miracles of some of the prophets shared by Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to discuss whether they think a God needs prophets, and why they think prophets tend to appear in turbulent times.

Q is for Qur’an and other holy books

Q - Teacher resources

This animated summary is all about the most popular and revered books in the world - holy texts. The Qur’an, the Bible, the Torah and the Guru Granth Sahib are manuscripts that many believe to have come from God. And, as such, they are at the core of their respective religions.

Teaching Religious Studies?

This could be used to ask students to explore the structure of the Bible, and what parts it shares with the Torah. Students could discuss why scriptures are at the heart of religion, and why they are considered to be coming from God himself. They could investigate the relationship between holy scriptures and history.

R is for Rituals

R - Teacher resources

This short animated film explores the fundamental role that religious ritual plays in bringing people together, marking important transitions in life and creating a sense of community. This irreverent and fast paced summary explores the daily rites, ceremonies and pilgrimages, using examples drawn from Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism.

Teaching Religious Studies?

You could ask pupils to discuss in groups what they think about the relationship between religion and community. You could also ask them to research sites of pilgrimage across the world.

S is for Saints

S - Teacher resources

This animation introduces pupils to the remarkable lives of a few saints, and details the significance that these figures have across Christianity and, in particular, in Roman Catholicism. It also explores what it takes to become a saint.

Teaching Religious Studies?

You could ask pupils about the criteria that need to be satisfied to become a saint. You could also get them to research the lives of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Julian of Norwich.

T is for Temples

T - Teacher resources

This light-hearted animation takes students on a journey to the holiest places of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, explaining their history and significance in the process.

Teaching Religious Studies?

You could ask pupils to divide into groups and discuss the concept of place of worship, and whether it is a necessary element of religion. You could also ask pupils to research the most important religious buildings of Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Shintoism and Taoism.

U is for Uncertainty

U - Teacher resources

This animated film explores the concept of uncertainty and shows that when it comes to religious beliefs, there is room for a little bit of doubt. By examining the differences between science and religion, it introduces Agnosticism and shows that uncertainty is nothing to be scared of.

Teaching Religious Studies?

You could use this film to start a discussion about the differences between science and religion. You could also ask students to discuss the idea found across faiths that the true nature of God cannot be understood by the human mind.

V is for Virtue

V - Teacher resources

This animated film is about the ethical dimension of religion. Exploring examples of virtue drawn from the Sikh, Hindu and Jewish faiths, it introduces the idea that religion is not only about believing, but also about becoming better people by doing so.

Teaching Religious Studies?

You could ask students to discuss if, and how, religion can teach us to live better lives. You could also ask them to discuss the value of virtuous living.

W is for Wealth

W - Teacher resources

This lively and fast-paced animation explores the attitude of different faiths towards wealth and the concepts of charity and compassion, in particular.

Teaching Religious Studies?

You could use this film to start a class discussion about what they think Jesus meant when he said that ‘it’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven’.

X is for Xenophobia

X - Teacher resources

This animated summary introduces the historical role that religious ideas have played in the establishment and justification of racist policies and ideas. Drawing on examples such as apartheid and Nazism, Xenophobia is investigated as an issue that sadly remains extremely relevant to this day.

Teaching Religious Studies?

You could ask your pupils to identify some examples of xenophobia in everyday life, and then look at these in context of how different religions teach us to treat people.

Y is for Yom Kippur

Y - Teacher resources

This fast-paced animated film introduces students to traditional religious celebrations, such as Yom Kippur, Easter, Eid-Ul-Fitr and Diwali. Pupils will learn that religious celebrations are an occasion for believers to reaffirm their commitment to their faith and each other, and that their essence is often very similar across different cultures.

Teaching Religious Studies?

You could ask pupils to identify the many similarities that can be found across celebrations from different religions. The film could also be used to discuss the relationship between religion and family.

Z is for Zoroastrianism

Z - Teacher resources

This irreverent animated film takes a look at some lesser known faiths. In particular, Zoroastrianism, Jainism and the Baha’i faith are explored, showing that the age old quest for truth and meaning can take many shapes and forms.

Teaching Religious Studies?

You could ask pupils to discuss the Baha’i faith and whether they believe that all religions worship the same god. You could also get them to research a lesser known religion and write a short essay about it.