Diploma Programme curriculum—core requirements
The core of the curriculum model consists of three components.
The extended essay of some 4,000 words offers the opportunity for IB students to investigate a topic of special interest, usually one of the student's six DP subjects, and acquaints them with the independent research and writing skills expected at university. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity - resulting in approximately 40 hours of work. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research on a topic of their choice, under the guidance of a supervisor. This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing of no more that 4,000 words, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject, It is recommended that students follow the completion of the written essay with a short, concluding interview - viva voce - with the supervisor. In countries where normally interviews are required prior to acceptance for employment or for a place at university, the extended essay had proved to be a valuable stimulus for discussion.
From 2011 (first examinations 2013), a world studies extended essay will be offered as a unique alternative.
Theory of knowledge (TOK)
The interdisciplinary TOK course is designed to develop a coherent approach to learning that transcends and unifies the academic areas and encourages appreciation of other cultural perspectives. The theory of knowledge course is in part intended to encourage students to reflect on the huge cultural shifts worldwide around the digital revolution and the information economy. The extent and impact of the changes vary greatly in different parts of the world, but everywhere their implications for knowledge are profound. Theory of knowledge encourages critical thinking about knowledge itself and aims to help young people make sense of that they encounter. Its core content focuses on questions such as the following:
- What counts a 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?
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 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.
Creativity, action, service (CAS)
Creativity, action, service is at the heart of the Diploma programme, involving students in a range of activities that take place alongside their academic studies throughout the IB Diploma Programme. The component's three strands, often interwoven with particular activities, are characterized as follows:
- Creativity - arts and other experiences that involve creative thinking
- Action - physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the IB Diploma Programme
- Service - an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student.
Creativity, action, service (CAS) encourages students to be involved in activities as individuals and as part of a team that take place in local, national and international contexts. Creativity, action, service enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development as well as their social and civic development, through experiential learning, lending an important counterbalance to the academic pressures of the rest of the IB Diploma Programme. It should be both challenging and enjoyable - a personal journey of self-discovery that recognizes each student's individual starting point.
Activities should provide:
- real, purposeful activities, with significant outcomes
- personal challenge - tasks must extend the student and be achievable in scope
- thoughtful consideration, such as planning, reviewing progress and reporting
- reflection on outcomes and personal learning.
Find out more
Order IB publications relating to the core requirements.
“The programme has given me and my classmates a sense of community, and the IB's focus on helping a student be a well-rounded individual has given me self-confidence.”
Jenna Gaylene Tichon, student at Westwood Collegiate, Winnipeg, Manitoba