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How does it work?

The IB Diploma consists of the study of six academic subjects with three additional elements – Creativity, Action, Service (CAS); Theory of Knowledge (TOK); and Extended Essay. 

  • IB

A student should study one subject from each of the following groups:

Group 1 Studies in Language and Literature - English, Korean or Slovak.
Group 2 Language Acquisition - English, French, German, Spanish and ab initio Spanish, or a second Group 1 Language and Literature option .
Group 3 Individuals in Societies - Geography, History, Business and Management, Economics, and Psychology.
Group 4 Sciences - Biology, Chemistry, or Physics.
Group 5 Mathematics - Mathematics (Standard or Higher Level) or Mathematical Studies (Standard Level only).
Group 6 The Arts - a student may select Visual Arts or Music, or a second subject from Groups 2, 3 or 4

As a candidate for the IB Diploma, a student must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Study one subject from each group (unless a subject in group 6 is not taken, in which case he/she

    should choose a second subject in groups 1-4)

  • Follow three of the six subjects at Higher Level;

  • Follow a course of study in Theory of Knowledge;

  • Submit an Extended Essay in one of the IB subjects;

Take part actively and effectively in Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) activities.

Please note that the information concerning subject choices in this section provides an overview of the programme available. The particular subjects and levels offered each year are based on the identified needs of each year group.

Usually these courses are available to all students but it may not always be possible to provide all the courses given above if the numbers of students choosing a particular option is too small to make that course viable. Certain combinations may also not be possible because of timetable constraints. Stu- dents and parents should note that although the timetable is constructed around students’ choices, any changes made after the timetable has been built, have to fit into that timetable and sit within the requirements of the Diploma.

Externally-tutored languages in Group 1

The School does allow students to follow a Group 1 course in their own language but this concession is subject to a suitably experienced tutor being found who will work positively with the School and will communicate regularly about that student’s academic progress. We will look at these requests on an individual basis. It is also possible to take a Group 1 language as a Self-Study option but this is only available at Standard Level. 

Extended Essay (EE)

IB Diploma Programme students are required to undertake original research and write an Extended Essay of 4,000 words. This essay offers the student the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest and to become acquainted with the kind of independent research and writing skills expected at the university level. The IBO recommends that a student devote a total of about 40 hours of private study and writing time to the essay.

The Extended Essay can serve to deepen a student’s programme of study, for example when the student chooses to focus the essay on a topic included in a Higher-Level course. Students may also elect to add to the breadth of their academic experience by writing on a subject not included in their diploma choices.

The Extended Essay also allows students to undertake a piece of research which will help them in their university applications when they come to write a personal statement, or go for interview.
During the research and essay-writing process, students are assigned to an Extended Essay tutor who will supervise the student’s work, offer guidance and advice, and ensure that the work submitted is entirely that of the student.

Assessment of the Extended Essay

Extended essays are assessed according to subject specific interpretation of general assessment criteria. Students should note that failure to produce an EE disqualifies a student from achieving the Diploma, regardless of performance elsewhere in the programme.

Theory Of Knowledge (TOK)

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is an interdisciplinary compulsory requirement intended to stimulate critical reflection on knowledge and experience gained inside and outside the classroom. It is a course of study unique to the International Baccalaureate Organisation. It adds coherence to the programme. Students are encouraged to reflect on all aspects of their Diploma Programme work. For example, on the nature of poetic truth in literature and to contrast such truth with that obtained in other systems of knowledge – the historical fact, the scientific fact, a mathematical proof, and so on. They also examine the grounds for the moral, political and aesthetic judgments that individuals must make in their daily lives. Emphasis is placed on the role of language and thought and on the development of the student’s critical thinking skills.

Students consider how they know what they know (different “ways of knowing”) and to develop habits of reflection in each subject, resulting in a deeper intellectual experience in each subject. The TOK course provides a “knowledge framework” with which students can better develop their understanding of different “areas of knowledge”.

TOK is not another name for philosophy, yet in a broad sense the aim of TOK is to encourage a philosophical mindset and to promote clarity of thought and good judgment. It is a challenging but fulfilling aspect of the core curriculum. 

Assessment of TOK

Each student is required to submit one essay of between 1,200 and 1,600 words, from a list of 6 titles prescribed by the IBO for each examination session. In addition, the student makes a 10-minute pre- sentation to the class and writes a self-evaluation report that includes a concise description of the pre- sentation and answers to questions provided by the IBO. Again, as with the Extended Essay, students who do not complete components in TOK will not be awarded the Diploma.

Creativity, Action And Service (CAS)

CAS is a fundamental part of the Diploma Programme experience. The CAS requirement takes seriously the importance of life outside the world of academic study, providing a refreshing opportunity to think about others and to contribute to the wider community. The IB goal of educating the whole person and developing more compassionate and active citizens comes alive in an immediate way when students reach beyond themselves and their books. In short, CAS is experiential learning.

The CAS requirement encourages students to share their energy and special talents with others: stu- dents may, for example, participate in theatre or musical productions, and sports and community service activities. Students should, through these activities, develop greater awareness of themselves and concern for others, as well as the ability to work cooperatively with other people. They should also learn to think globally and act locally. 

Appropriate CAS activities might include:
  • purposeful visits to orphanages, hospitals, or homes for the elderly, • involvement in theatre productions
  • sports coaching
  • teaching other students
  • participating in the Model United Nations
  • Organising a TEDx event
  • charity work
  • learning a new musical instrument, craft or sport • environmental work

These are only examples. Each student will have other ideas and the CAS Co-ordinator is on hand to help support them in organising worthwhile projects. The CAS programme starts at beginning of Year 12 with the CAS Residential trip where all the students spend a week in the Velka Fatra National Park Slovakia leading and participating in community service work and environmental service work as well as participating in teambuilding activities.

CAS is an area of the curriculum in which students must take independent responsibility for meeting all criteria, under the guidance and support of their IB tutors and the CAS Coordinator. Students are expected to be involved in CAS activities for the equivalent of around three to four hours each week during the two years of the programme.

A system of self-evaluation, focused around key learning outcomes, encourages students to reflect on the benefits of CAS participation to themselves and to others, and to evaluate the understanding and insights acquired.

Students receive no points for CAS towards their final total. Yet they cannot pass the Diploma without it. This reflects the the focus on process in the IB Diploma. It is not just about outcomes – what grade a student eventually receives – but about how they get there and how they develop both as learners and as young people. 

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