Computer science

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Computer science previously formed a subject in group 5 of the Diploma Programme curriculum but now lies within group 4. As such, it is regarded as a science, alongside biology, chemistry, design technology, physics, environmental systems and societies and sports, exercise and health science.

 This group change is significant as it means DP students can now select computer science as their group 4 subject rather than having to select it in addition to mathematics as was previously the case. 

The IB computer science course is a rigorous and practical problem-solving discipline. Features and benefits of the curriculum and assessment of are as follows: 

Features Benefits

Two course levels are offered; standard level (SL) and higher level (HL).

Computer science candidates are not limited by a defined study level so can opt for this course in the same way as their other subjects.

Computational thinking lies at the heart of the course and is integrated with other topics. This will be supported by practical activities including programming.

Candidates will learn programming skills as a critical element of developing higher-level skills applicable to virtually all fields of study.

Four course options are available; databases, modelling and simulation, web science, object oriented programming

These options will allow a particular subject of interest to be studied as defined by the subject teacher

Algorithmic thinking will be both externally and internally assessed at the level of pseudo-code.

This means the external assessment will focus on the student’s algorithmic thinking, not on their mastery of the syntax of a particular programming language.

Practical programming experience will be an essential element of developing higher-level thinking skills; this may be assessed as a part of the internal assessment. There is no designated language.

This allows teachers to select the programming language(s) which they feel are most appropriate for teaching the practical elements of the course

Syllabus content will be reviewed as part of the curriculum review cycle.

This will ensure course content remains current

A new component has been introduced (HL only) that is linked to the annually issued case study, to expand students’ knowledge of a new subject-related topic through investigative study.

This will allow students to investigate in greater depth current issues in computer science that are not included in the syllabus.

The internal assessment has changed from a being based on a Java-related task to a more open problem-solving exercise.

This will expand the choice of programming languages and better support the development of learners who match the IB learner profile

All computer science students will work with other students of group 4 subjects (physics, chemistry, biology, design technology, enviromental systems and societies and sports, excercise and health science).

Collaborative working will be emphasized through combined activity with like-minded students.

Learn more about computer science in a DP workshop for teachers

Computer science subject brief

Subject briefs are short two-page documents providing an outline of the course. Read the subject brief below. 


Computer science (PDF, 410 KB) pdf