IB Diploma Programme
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) was born, in the 1960’s, of efforts to establish a common curriculum and university entry credential for students moving from one country to another. International educators were motivated by practical considerations but also by an idealistic vision that students should share an academic experience that would emphasize critical thinking, intercultural understanding and exposure to a variety of points of view.
The IB DP seeks to provide a holistic education whereby candidates reflect their roles as responsible and compassionate local community members and global citizens. As with all IB programmes the focus is on the development of the whole child within the context of the Learner Profile.
The IB Diploma Programme is a demanding pre-university course of study that leads to examinations. It is designed for highly motivated secondary school students aged 16 to 19 years. To be awarded the IB Diploma, a student must demonstrate a strong commitment to learning, in terms of mastery of subject content and in the development of skills and attitudes necessary for success at the tertiary level. The IB Diploma is held in high esteem throughout the world and the student who is awarded the IB Diploma gains access to the world’s leading universities. The IB Diploma Programme is a comprehensive two-year international curriculum that generally allows students to fulfill the requirements of their national or state education systems. The Diploma Programme incorporates the best elements of national systems, without being based on any one.
For further information regarding the International Baccalaureate – Diploma Programme, visit: www.ibo.org/diploma.
IB Diploma Programme Core Elements
The IB DP Curriculum is represented by the hexagon with six subject areas supported by the core. Each candidate is required to study one subject from each of the subject areas. A minimum of three subjects must be taken at the Higher Level (HL), allowing for specialization or focus of interest. The remaining courses are taken at the Standard Level (SL). HL courses require 240 instructional hours versus the 150 required by SL courses. HL courses also require additional assessment.
The Extended Essay, a core element of the IB DP, is a 4000-word essay and is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects - normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB diploma. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject chosen. It is recommended that completion of the written essay is followed by a short, concluding interview, or viva voce, with the supervisor.
In the Diploma Programme, the extended essay is the prime example of a piece of work where the student has the opportunity to show knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm about a subject area topic of his or her choice.
The method of assessment used by the IB is criterion related. The method of assessment judges each student in relation to identified assessment criteria and not in relation to the work of other students. All extended essays are externally assessed by examiners appointed by the IB, and are marked on a scale from 0 to 36.
Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course encourages critical thinking about knowledge itself, to try to help young people make sense of what they encounter. Its core content is questions like these: What counts as knowledge? How does it grow? What are its limits? Who owns knowledge? What is the value of knowledge? What are the implications of having, or not having, knowledge?
What makes TOK unique, and distinctively different from standard academic disciplines, is its process. At the centre of the course is the student as knower. Students entering the Diploma Programme typically have 16 years of life experience and more than 10 years of formal education behind them. They have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge, beliefs and opinions from academic disciplines and their lives outside the classroom. In TOK they have the opportunity to step back from this relentless acquisition of new knowledge, in order to consider knowledge issues. These include the questions already mentioned, viewed from the perspective of the student, but often begin from more basic ones, like: What do I claim to know [about X]? Am I justified in doing so [how?]? Such questions may initially seem abstract or theoretical, but the teacher will try to bring them into closer focus by taking into account students’ interests, circumstances and outlooks. TOK activities and discussions aim to help students discover and express their views on knowledge issues. The course encourages students to share ideas with others and to listen to and learn from what others think.
In this process, students’ thinking and their understanding of knowledge as a human construction are shaped, enriched and deepened. Connections may be made between knowledge encountered in different Diploma Programme subjects, in CAS experience or in extended essay research; distinctions between different kinds of knowledge may be clarified. Because the subject matter of the course is defined in terms of knowledge issues, there is no end to the valid questions that may arise in a TOK course.
The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course will:
- Build on students’ own experience and involve them actively in the classroom.
- Ensure that students understand the purpose of TOK and its central role in the Diploma Programme.
- Allow the teacher to model the values of curiosity, thoughtful inquiry and critical thought.
- Have a structure that is clear to the students.
- Meet the objectives of TOK.
- Ensure that students understand and are prepared for the assessment tasks.
The assessment model in Theory of Knowledge (TOK) comprises two components, both of which should be completed within the 100 hours designated for the course.
Creativity, Action and Service (CAS)
Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) is at the heart of the Diploma Programme. It is one of the three essential elements in every student’s Diploma Programme experience. It involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies throughout the Diploma Programme.
Creativity: Arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
Action: Physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the Diploma Programme.
Service: An unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student. The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected.
The CAS Programme aims to develop students who are:
- Reflective thinkers—they understand their own strengths and limitations, identify goals and devise strategies for personal growth.
- Willing to accept new challenges and new roles.
- Aware of themselves as members of communities with responsibilities towards each other and the environment.
- Active participants in sustained, collaborative projects.
- Balanced—they enjoy and find significance in a range of activities involving intellectual, physical, creative and emotional experiences.
Evaluation in the IB Diploma Programme
The IBO does not change grades (i.e. bell curve) in order to establish a particular percentage of candidates within a mark category. Therefore, the student's achievement is assessed according to his/her own ability in regards to the criteria specified within each subject group area. Assessment in each subject consists of some or all of the following:
- Written examinations based on all or part of the course syllabus
- Oral examinations that are tape-recorded and externally assessed by an IBO examiner or conducted by a visiting examiner.
The task evaluation details vary between subject groups. However, all aspects of internal assessment, initially marked by the teacher in charge, will be externally verified and amended by IBO moderators to ensure uniform standards are being met.
Most subjects have an internal assessment component, though the majority of the subject grade is carried out via external assessment.
IB DP Course Offerings
Students will select one subject from each Group. The six selections must contain three Higher Level (HL) courses and three Standard Level (SL) Courses.
Group 1 - Language A1
Group 2 - Second Language
Group 3 - Individuals and Societies
Group 4 - Experimental Sciences
Group 5 - Mathematics
Group 6 - The Arts/Optional Subjects
Online Courses - IB DP
More detail is in the Grades 11 and 12 - IB Diploma (IB DP) section of the website.