Ethics, Philosophy and Religion (EPR)

At the core of the King’s Academy mission is a commitment to fostering an educational environment in which students from many different cultures can explore, share and thereby enrich one another’s values. At the same time, the school maintains a dedication to cultivating in students a thoughtful and impassioned loyalty to their own traditions, beliefs and personal commitments.

In the Department of Ethics, Philosophy and Religion (EPR), Islamic and Christian Theology courses go far beyond the requirements of the Ministry of Education to deal with the entire spectrum of religious education, including theology, law, history, visual culture and contemporary social issues. The gateway course, World Religions, employs the guiding principles of global citizenship, responsibility and respect as it engages in the academic study of varying religious beliefs, practices and traditions throughout the world. The course seeks to instill a sense of compassion and curiosity in the minds of students that allows them to enhance their appreciation for and responsibility towards their religious beliefs and those of others.

In all courses, the department takes as a starting point the dictum that education is philosophy in action, and seeks to produce students who are not only well-versed in the theories of prominent ethicists and philosophers, but also fully committed to philosophical and ethical practice. This department aims to foster academic rigor, critical thinking and a mastery of materials, assessing these skills through discussions, group projects and written reflections One of the central aims of the department is to produce young adults intent upon discovering, for themselves, what it means to live a good life, and to prepare them for the longest and most exacting external exam: a life of self-reflection.

Courses in this department for 2017-2018:

Introduction to World Religions

Religion has enriched cultures and civilizations since the beginning of recorded history. It has shaped humanity’s triumphs, its struggles, its deepest concerns, questions and emotions. Often the root of breathtaking human creativity, religion is sometimes misused for horrifying destructive ends. For these reasons and others, the study of world religions acquires greater urgency in our global civilization. This course introduces the five major religions of the world — Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam — from a historical and anthropological perspective. To that end, the belief systems of these five religions are discussed with maximum openness and with as little judgment as possible. By examining the religious beliefs, practices and images of others in this manner, we hope to understand what religion means to its adherents and how it shapes their lives.
Course length: One term
Prerequisite: Open only to 10th, 11th and 12th graders

Introduction to Ethics

The course introduces students to the most common positions in moral philosophy, including Ethical Relativism, Utilitarianism, and Kantian Ethics. Students critically examine the contributions of some leading moral philosophers such as Socrates, Kant, Bentham, al-Ghazali and ‘Abd al-Jabbar to the field of ethics. From this theoretical foundation, students are able to generate questions, explanations and possible solutions in response to different moral dilemmas. The course also enables students to formulate, communicate and write ideas clearly with due regard for academic honesty and integrity.
Course length: One term
Prerequisite: Open only to 10th, 11th and 12th graders

First Questions in Philosophy

Some questions perpetually baffle, excite or antagonize great thinkers and everyday folk alike. The mysteries of good and evil, proper behavior and good government, thought and perception, beauty, time and language – these are issues that philosophers, theologians, politicians and countless others have tried to resolve. This course introduces students to the way philosophers have dealt with these great questions, while encouraging a spirit of philosophical inquiry. As students approach these major topics, they also begin to assemble a philosopher’s toolkit: acquiring familiarity with formal argumentation, critical thinking skills and essay writing, as well as a conversancy with classic logical fallacies.
Course length: One term
Prerequisite: Open only to 10th, 11th and 12th graders


Great wisdom exists in the mystical traditions of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and early American Transcendentalism. Thomas Keating, who espouses silence as the path to humility that begins to “crack the crust of the false self”, claims that “just by the very nature of our birth, we are on a spiritual journey.” Through deep engagement with insightful and living texts, this course nurtures the spiritual journey: Students learn to devalue selfies and seek the elusive Self; they learn to honor strategies that promote academic focus, earnest empathy, holistic health and sincere service; they, in a sense, encounter life in a new way. Creative writing, detailed dialogue, and introspective moments complement course readings while students reconnect with the wisdom and enriching power of silence through a variety of contemplative practices.
Course length: Fall term
Prerequisite: Open only to 10th, 11th and 12th graders

Cultural Politics in Film and the Media

In this course, students examine cultural politics and identity formation in broader socio-cultural-political contexts. First, they consider mass media, focusing on its projection and reflection of ideology, factors behind unequal representation in the media and propaganda, and how it is used to construct meaning in the global context. Students then shift their gaze to some of the philosophical debates that inform our everyday lives and cultural expression, accessing these concepts through popular films. Finally, students focus on expressions and representations of individual and communal identities through audio, visual and performance sources (e.g. music, slam poetry, graphic novels, graffiti). Students develop a critical lens to more consciously interact with their surroundings, a vocabulary to discuss and analyze non-traditional sources and find deeper meaning, and practice their research and collaboration skills to present using varied approaches.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Open only to 11th and 12th graders

Islamic Studies I

This course serves as an introduction to the core principles and practices of the Muslim religion. In the first year, students focus on the following topics: the Qur’an, the Hadith, the doctrine of Islam, lessons from the life of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), concepts of Islamic jurisprudence, and Islamic morals and principles. Students study and learn to recite a number of designated Qur’anic verses. This course fulfills Jordanian Ministry of Education requirements for Muslim students.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: The alternative course, Islamic Studies (in English), is for students with no previous knowledge of the subject or whose Arabic proficiency does not allow them to take it in Arabic.

Islamic Studies II

The second year of Islamic Studies builds on the foundation laid by the first year of study by expanding the students’ perspective to include early Islamic history, Islamic law and theology and aspects of Islamic civilization. Students study the practice and beliefs of Islam and understand it in the context of contemporary society across the Muslim world. This course fulfills Jordanian Ministry of Education requirements for Muslim students.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Islamic Studies I; the alternative course, Islamic Studies (in English), is for students who have taken the 9th grade course in English

Islamic Studies III

This course continues to build upon what the students have learned during the first two courses and expands their knowledge of the prophet’s bibliography, the holy Qur’an, the Hadith, Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic civilizations.
Course length: One term
Prerequisite: Islamic Studies II; the alternative course, Islamic Studies (in English), is for students who have taken the 9th grade course in English

Islam and Modernity

What is Islam? What is modernity? What does one have to do with the other? What are the ways in which Muslim thinkers and activists have responded (and continue to respond) to the challenges presented by modernity and by an international order founded upon secularism and modernism? What has been the experience of different Muslim communities and intellectuals? This course focuses on the broad question of how societies, predominantly influenced by Islamic traditions, might find a home in the modern world on their own terms. It also explores Muslim voices in Europe and North America and track new trajectories of renewal and reform in the West, where Muslims live as small but increasingly significant minority communities.
Course length: One term
Prerequisite: Open only to 11th and 12th graders; the alternative course for Islamic Studies III, also open for non-Muslims as an EPR elective course

Last updated
April 24, 2017