The creation, presentation and study of film requires courage, passion and curiosity: courage to create individually and as part of a team, to explore ideas through action and harness the imagination, and to experiment; passion to communicate and to act communally, and to research and formulate ideas eloquently; curiosity about self and others and the world, about different traditions, techniques and knowledge, about the past and the future, and about the limitless possibilities of human expression through the art form. 

At the core of the IB film course lies a concern with clarity of understanding, critical thinking, reflective analysis, effective involvement and imaginative synthesis that is achieved through practical engagement in the art and craft of film.

Although the standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) syllabus outlines share elements, there is a clear distinction between both the explicit and implicit demands at these levels. Through a variety of teaching approaches, including the construction and deconstruction of film texts, all students, whether SL or HL, are encouraged to develop their creative and critical abilities and to enhance their appreciation and enjoyment of film.

The differences between SL and HL are both quantitative and qualitative. The nature of the course enables HL students to develop creative skills, theoretical understanding and textual analysis more fully. An HL student should display a continuous resolve of personal challenge and a sustained engagement with the ideas, practices and concepts encountered within the course over the extended learning time available. An HL student has extra time for these encounters, extra time to reflect and to record evidence of growth. It is understood that ensuing developments may be only partially evident within the framework of the assessment process.

Film syllabus outline 

Syllabus component Suggested teaching hours

Textual analysis
The detailed study of film sequences

37.5 60

Film theory and history
The study of films and film-making traditions from more than one country

37.5 60

Creative process—techniques and organization of production
The development of creative, analytical and production skills within film-making.

75 120
Total teaching hours 150 240

Key features of the curriculum and assessment models

  • Available at standard (SL) and higher levels (HL)
  • The minimum prescribed number of hours is 150 for SL and 240 for HL
  • Students are assessed both externally and internally
  • External assessment consists of a) the Independent study (rationale, script and list of sources for a short documentary production on an aspect of film theory and/or film history, based on particular films from more than one country), and b) the Presentation (an oral presentation of a detailed critical analysis of a continuous extract from a prescribed film)  
  • Internal assessment consists of the Production portfolio (a student’s completed film project and its accompanying documentation (at HL includes a trailer). 

Learn more about film in a DP workshop for teachers