Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
03 May, 2019

IB Options Presentation to Year 11 Students

A message to our students: "Your IB subject choices can have an impact on your future careers or university options. For some of you, the HL subject choices you make will be more important than others, depending on what you might like to study in the future, where in the world you might like to study, and possible career goals."

Important dates

  • 14 February: 'First Round’ 
  • 10 April: Final Choices

Things to consider when making subject choices

Subject Interest

  • What subjects do you enjoy studying at GCSE/IGCSE
  • Which GCSE subjects are you best at?
  • Would you like to continue these subjects at IB? 
  • Are there new subjects on offer that you would like to pick up?

Career Interest

If you have an idea of what your future career may be …

Does your career choice require a specific degree? 

  • Some careers require you to take particular degrees. 
  • Some require a relevant degree
  • Some don’t require a particular degree, but may require certain skills

Are certain HL subjects needed for you to study for a particular degree?


Employers in different countries may have different attitudes towards the degree you study:

  • In some countries (e.g. France) employers may look to see that you have completed a degree in a field that is linked to your chosen field of work.
  • In the UK only 20% of jobs specify an area of study. Even fewer require a specific degree.
  • For many employers the degree you study is irrelevant -personal qualities and transferable skills are more important

Professional careers

Doctors, solicitors and accountants are examples of the most well known professions.

But, there are several hundred different professions covering a huge range of sectors including: 

  • Building
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Education
  • Technology 
  • Hospitality 
  • Sciences
  • The Environment
  • Finance
  • Research
  • Information
  • Health
  • Culture

If you already have some idea of the kind of area you want to go into, explore the options it offers for a professional career. 

If you want to enter a profession this may influence your choice of degree course, and possibly also your choice of Higher Level subjects.

For many professions you complete your professional training after you have completed an undergraduate degree… so lots of different degrees can lead to the same outcome.

What does the future hold?

In the future you may well work in jobs:

  • That don’t yet exist
  • In organisations not yet trading
  • In markets currently not invented
  • Producing products and services we don’t yet know we need
  • Using skills and knowledge we don’t yet know exists
  • With people you’ll never meet

What employers are looking for is changing:

  • Digital Entrepreneurs
  • Creative Content Specialists
  • Cultural and Market Influencer
  • User Experience Designers
  • Chief Listening Officers
  • Sustainability Managers

University options

For some of you, the HL subject choices you make will be more important than others, depending on what you might like to study in the future, and where in the world you might like to study. 

Is there a particular subject area that you are interested in specialising in? Does it require specific HL subjects?

Perhaps this will be a subject that you can take at IB, or it could be a subject that you can’t take at IB like Archaeology, Anthropology or Law, but where certain IB subjects might be either useful or essential. 

What might this area of study lead on to?

Where in the world might you like to study? 

Different countries have different university systems.

Some countries have very specific IB subject requirements, including language requirements, regardless of what subject you specialise in …e.g.

Germany usually requires minimum of SL maths, and require students to take particular categories of subject.

Italy - four different combinations of subjects that you can choose from.

UK - many students take specific degrees (e.g. Medicine, Engineering, Economics, Law) .

USA and Canada – general ‘core’ study before choosing a ‘major’, unless you attend a specialist institution for e.g. Engineering or Art.

Hong Kong and Korea – students often apply to university faculties (e.g. Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Social Science, Faculty of Humanities) and then specialise.

If you are planning on studying for a specific degree it’s important that you check you are taking the right HL subjects

  • University Websites
  • ‘Informed Choices’

How to choose your IB subjects

Some students may know what exactly what they want to do in the future (e.g. become an engineer or a vet).

  1. Check the entry requirements!
  2. Investigate alternative degrees or specialisms that your subject choices could lead on to.

Not sure yet, and want to keep your options open?

  • Mathematics 
  • English Literature (or Language and Literature)
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • History
  • Languages (Classical and Modern)

Taking one or more of these subjects at Higher Level can keep your higher education options open.

Whilst you can keep your options open to some extent, it depends on the area of study or work that you may want to go into and where in the world you want to study:

  • Science
  • Social Sciences
  • Languages
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Creative Arts 


Consider taking two, and ideally three of Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics at HL.

  • Most Biological/Life Sciences degrees are based on Chemistry and Biology
  • Most Physical Sciences/Engineering Degrees involve the practical application of Maths and Physics.

Arts or Social Sciences:

There is no set route. A range of subjects can provide good preparation, but one or more of the ‘facilitating’ subjects at HL will be useful.


There are many language degrees open to students who have studied one Language ‘B’ at Higher Level. Some students will also emphasise their linguistic abilities by being taught in English if it is not their native language.

None of the above?

Some subjects just don’t fit these categories.

An arts/science combination may be needed for some degrees: 

  • Art & Chemistry – Art Conservation
  • Music, Maths, Physics – Sound Recording
  • Art & Maths – Some Architecture

I have no idea what I want to do or where I want to go!

  • Identify your strengths
  • Do the subjects you enjoy
  • Ensure you don’t prevent yourself from pursuing a degree you are interested in (and likely to succeed at).

Standard Level Courses

Take what you enjoy and what you feel will be useful, either for your other IB subjects, or for your chosen degree subject. 

Aim for coherence if possible.

A note on Mathematics

For Maths-related courses, the more selective universities require HL Maths. This applies to Economics courses at the most selective universities, and many engineering courses. 

Self Knowledge!

Talk to your Teachers ! 

They will know what you are capable of and how best to excel.

The IB Options Workbook

Part 1

  • Identify your personal characteristics, strengths & motivations
  • Identify a list of possible careers
  • Investigate how to get into these careers (Qualifications, Work Experience etc.) 
  • Identify whether there are particular degrees and/or HL IB subjects that are either essential or useful to enter into these careers.

Useful, whether you already have an idea of what you might like to do in the future, or if you have no idea at all. 

Part 2

  • Read the information in the booklet
  • Look at IB Country Recognition Statements
  • Look at university websites/‘Informed Choices’ Document
  • Look at the ‘Ideas Generator’ to see what sort of degrees lead on from HL subject choices
  • Investigate what careers can lead on from particular degrees, and then see what alternative routes there are to the same career ( – What can I do with my Degree?)

Keep an open mind!