Theory of Knowledge (TOK) encourages students to reflect on the nature of knowledge and how we know what we claim to know. Required for all IB students, it's one of the components of the IBDP core and is central to educational philosophy.

HOW do we teach theory of knowledge (TOK)?

The IB Learner will inquire into different ways of knowing – such as through sense perception or reasoning – and will  examine these through different areas of knowledge, such as history, ethics, or human science, to name a few. 

TOK is composed of questions, examined through open-ended dialogue. The most central question is 'How do we know?', while other questions examine evidence and allow the learner to judge the validity of sources. It encourages learners to be critical thinkers when reviewing different models and how specific theory can be applied.

Through discussions of these and other questions, our students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions. They also develop an appreciation for the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives.


The TOK course is assessed through an oral presentation (33%) and a 1600-word essay (67%) that examine the student's ability to apply TOK to a real-life situation. The oral presentation is under 30 minutes. This is internally assessed and verified by a review from an IB examiner.

For the TOK essay, the IB learner selects one essay title from six prescribed titles produced by the IB in September, prior to submission for examinations in May. Students develop the title to ask questions and then apply how knowledge is acquired or developed from different areas and ways of knowing in an open-ended manner.


TOK makes students aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases – whether these biases are retained, revised, or rejected. It offers students the opportunity to reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge. Students also consider the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture and in other cultures around the world.

TOK helps students become more aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to become acquainted with the complexity of knowledge. TOK also helps them recognise how to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world, allowing them to apply their knowledge with greater awareness and credibility.
Student in Cap and Gown graphic


The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is widely recognised throughout the world for its rigorous academic programme that prepares global citizens for the best universities in the world.