IBDP Core Curriculum

There are three three core components in the IB Diploma Programme:

  • Theory of knowledge
  • Creativity, activity, service
  • Extended essay.

These are in addition to the student’s study of six subjects.

IBDP Theory of Knowledge

Theory of Knowledge (ToK) provides an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. It is compulsory for all students to study Theory of Knowledge and it is central to the educational philosophy of the IB Diploma Programme.

How is Theory of Knowledge structured?
As a thoughtful and purposeful inquiry into different ways of knowing, and into different kinds of knowledge, Theory of Knowledge is composed almost entirely of questions:

  • How do we know?
  • What counts as evidence for X?
  • How do we judge the best model of Y?
  • What does theory Z mean in the real world?

Discussion of these questions enhances students’ insight into their personal and ideological assumptions, as well as developing an appreciation of the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives.

Assessment of Theory of Knowledge
The Theory of Knowledge course is assessed through an exhibition and a 1,600-word essay. The exhibition explores how Theory of Knowledge manifests in the world around us, and assesses the ability of the student to apply Theory of Knowledge thinking and skills. The essay engages students in a formal, sustained piece of writing in response to different knowledge questions.

What is the significance of Theory of Knowledge?

Theory of Knowledge aims to make students aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases. It offers students and their teachers the opportunity to:

  • reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge
  • consider the role and nature of knowledge in diverse cultures.

In addition, Theory of Knowledge prompts students to:

  • be aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to perceive the complexity of knowledge
  • recognise the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world.

Theory of Knowledge also provides coherence for the student, by linking academic subject areas as well as transcending them. It therefore demonstrates the ways in which the student can apply their knowledge with greater awareness and credibility.

IBDP Creativity, Activity, Service

Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) is another compulsory element of the core that every student must complete as part of the IBDP. CAS involves students undertaking a range of activities alongside their academic studies in Year 11 and Semester 1, Year 12. Creativity, Activity, Service is not formally assessed, however, students reflect on their CAS experiences and provide evidence of achieving the seven learning outcomes for CAS.

How is Creativity, Activity, Service structured?
The three strands of Creativity, Activity, Service, which are often interwoven with particular activities, are characterised as follows:

  • Creativity – arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
  • Activity – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Service – an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student and respects the rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved.

In order to demonstrate these concepts, students are required to undertake a CAS project. The project challenges students to:

  • show initiative
  • demonstrate perseverance
  • develop skills such as collaboration, problem solving and decision-making.

What is the significance of Creativity, Activity, Service?

CAS enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development by learning through experience. It provides opportunities for self-determination and collaboration with others, fostering a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment from their work. At the same time, Creativity, Activity, Service is an important counterbalance to the academic pressures of the IBDP. A good Creativity, Activity, Service program should be challenging and enjoyable – a personal journey of self-discovery.

Each student has a different starting point, and therefore different goals and needs, but for many, their Creativity, Activity, Service activities include experiences that are profound and life-changing.

IBDP Extended Essay

The Extended Essay (EE) is the third compulsory elements of the core in the IBDP. It is an independent, self-directed research project, culminating in a 4,000-word paper.

What is the significance of the Extended Essay?

The Extended Essay provides:

  • practical preparation for undergraduate research
  • an opportunity for students to investigate a topic of special interest to them, which is also related to one of the student’s six IBDP subjects.

Through the research process for the Extended Essay, students develop skills in:

  • formulating an appropriate research question
  • engaging in a personal exploration of the topic
  • communicating ideas
  • developing an argument.

Participation in this process develops the capacity to analyse, synthesise and evaluate knowledge.

An Extended Essay can also be undertaken in world studies, where students carry out an in-depth interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance, across two IBDP disciplines.

How is study of the Extended Essay structured?

Students are supported throughout the process of researching and writing the extended essay, with advice and guidance from a supervisor who is a teacher at the school. The IB requires students to undertake three formal reflections as part of the EE. The final reflection is a concluding interview with their supervisor, known as viva voce.

How is the Extended Essay assessed?

All Extended Essays are externally assessed by examiners appointed by the IB. They are marked on a scale from 0 to 34.

The score a student receives relates to the following bands:
A – work of an excellent standard
B – work of a good standard
C – work of a satisfactory standard
D – work of a mediocre standard
E – work of an elementary standard