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IB Diploma Programme Overview

The final two years of school is an incredibly important journey whereby students continue on their path towards university, their chosen careers and life beyond. Students who are fortunate enough to experience the IB Diploma Programme are the recipients of a holistic, internationally minded and stimulating education whereby they develop into responsible, informed and articulate global citizens.

  • IB DIPLOMA Programme 2
  • IB DIPLOMA Programme (group chart)2
  • IB DIPLOMA Programme (profile)
  • University Offers 2019

NAS Dubai is a fully authorised IB World School offering the Diploma Programme. The IB Diploma Programme is a rigorous, two-year, pre-university programme for students aged 16 to 19 years old. It is unique in that it is based on no particular national education system, but is a deliberate balance between the breadth and the specialisation that is required by some countries’ national systems. It is run by an international organisation that started life in Geneva, Switzerland, called the International Baccalaureate, or IB for short. The IB has now grown to be a huge success worldwide, with regional centres in the MENA, Americas and Asia-Pacific regions. The IB works with over 4,500 schools with more than 140,000 students sitting the internationally recognized Diploma Programme examinations in 2016. Most importantly, it is highly respected by universities all around the world.

The IB Diploma Programme Curriculum Model

The IB Diploma Programme provides a well-balanced educational model highlighting a broad range of subjects and experiences. Requirements for entry to universities are met by following usually three subjects at Higher Level and three at Standard Level.  There are six different groups of subjects as shown by the curriculum model below:

IB DIPLOMA Programme 2

Group 1 - Studies in Language and Literature

Group 2 - Language Acquisition

Group 3 - Individuals and Societies

Group 4 - Sciences

Group 5 - Mathematics

Group 6 - The Arts

Students maintain their studies of languages, the human and natural sciences, mathematics and the arts. The Diploma Programme also includes the DP ‘Core’ elements comprising of the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) Programme, the Extended Essay (EE) and the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course. Together, these offer experiences and skills unique to the IB Diploma Programme.


Subject Choices at NAS Dubai

At NAS Dubai, the following subjects are currently offered in the six different groups within the Diploma Programme (subject to demand for those courses being met):IB DIPLOMA Programme  (chart)

The IB Diploma Programme is a natural progression from the IGCSE programme offered at NAS Dubai whereby students are equipped with the academic, emotional and cultural foundations to achieve success within the Diploma Programme.

The IB Diploma ‘Core’ Elements

1 – Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) allows students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. It is one of the components of the DP core and is mandatory for all IB students. The TOK requirement is central to the educational philosophy of the IB Diploma Programme.

How is TOK taught?

The IB Learner will inquire into different ways of knowing, such as sense perception or reasoning and examine these through different areas of knowledge such as history, ethics or human science to name a few. TOK will also be referenced throughout the IB Diploma Programme by the subjects that are chosen. TOK is composed almost entirely of questions, which should be examined through open ended dialogue. The most central question is “How do we know?”, while other questions would examine evidence allowing the learner to make judgements on the validity of sources. It allows learners to be critical thinkers when reviewing different models and how specific theory can be applied to the real world.

Through discussions of these and other questions, students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions, as well as developing an appreciation of the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives.

Assessment of TOK

The TOK course is assessed through an oral presentation (33%) and a 1600-word essay (67%). The presentation assesses the ability of the student to apply TOK thinking to a real-life situation and should be no longer than 30 minutes in length. 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 essay titles that are produced by the IB in September prior to submission for examinations in May. Students will develop the title to ask knowledge questions, then apply how knowledge is acquired/ developed from different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing inan open-ended manner.

What is the significance of TOK?

TOK aims to make 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 consider the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture and in the cultures of others from around the world. TOK offers opportunities for students to be aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to become more acquainted with the complexity of knowledge. Students are encouraged to recognise the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world allowing them to apply their knowledge with greater awareness and credibility.


2- Creativity Activity Service (CAS)

CAS is at the heart of the Diploma Programme and, with its holistic approach, is designed to strengthen and extend students’ personal and interpersonal learning. CAS is one of the things that sets the IB Diploma apart from other courses at this level. Through the CAS programme, students develop awareness of, concern for, and the ability to cooperate with others. The philosophy is to develop all areas of a student’s potential, to educate the whole person and to encourage the development of individual talents. CAS complements a challenging academic programme in a holistic way and acknowledges the need to become involved in physical recreation, theatre productions, artistic pursuits, community service work and other worthwhile activities. The CAS coordinator looks after the programme and ensures active student engagement. Over the two year IB Diploma Programme, DP students devote their time to CAS experiences on a regular basis, ensuring a balance between the three strands: Creativity, Activity and Service.

CAS involves students in a range of enjoyable and significant experiences, as well as a CAS project.

Throughout the CAS programme, students need to show that they have had real-life experiences involving the following 7 Learning Outcomes:

  1. - Identify your own strengths and develop areas for personal growth
  2. - Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process
  3. - Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience
  4. - Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences
  5. - Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively
  6. - Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
  7. - Recognise and consider the ethics of choices and actions

Although CAS is not formally assessed and students do not receive points for CAS towards their final IB score, they cannot pass the Diploma without it. This reflects the focus on process within the IB Diploma Programme. It is not just about outcomes – what grade a student eventually receives – but also about how they get there and how they develop both as learners and as young people.

3 – The Extended Essay (EE)

One of the most interesting and challenging components of the IB Diploma Programme is to undertake independent research into a topic of special interest to the student and then write an Extended Essay of up to 4,000 words. The Extended Essay is a compulsory, externally assessed piece of independent research into a topic chosen by the student and presented as a formal piece of academic writing.

The Extended Essay is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity while engaging students in personal research. This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing of up to 4,000 words in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned, coherent and appropriate manner.

Students at NAS Dubai are guided through the prescribed Extended Essay process of research and writing by an assigned supervisor (a teacher in the school). All students undertake three mandatory reflection sessions with their supervisor, including a short concluding interview (or viva voce), following the completion of the Extended Essay.

Extended Essay topics may be chosen from a list of approved DP subjects normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB Diploma or the World Studies option. World Studies provides students with the opportunity to carry out an in-depth interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance, using two IB disciplines. The aims of the Extended Essay are to provide students with the opportunity to:

  • engage in independent research with intellectual initiative and rigour
  • develop research, thinking, self-management and communication skills
  • reflect on what has been learned throughout the research and writing process.

Students will start their preparations for the Extended Essay in the spring term of Year 12 and they will need to complete the research or data collection ideally before the end of the summer term so that the final essay can be submitted at the start of the autumn term in Year 13. The IB recommend that a student devotes a total of about 40 hours of private study and writing time to the essay. This is excellent preparation for the kind of thesis students are required to write at college/university and it acquaints them with research and academic writing skills needed for success.

The IB Learner Profile and International Mindedness

Fundamental to the IB philosophy and ideology is the IB Learner Profile that describes 10 attributes that the IB believe individuals and groups should model and showcase in order to be responsible and valued members of local and global societies (insert image like the one below).


IB DIPLOMA Programme (profile)


As a result of embedding the IB Learner Profile into the daily life of our school, students will gain a thorough understanding of the complexity and interconnectedness of global issues whilst raising their awareness of others in our global community. The IB believe in developing an understanding of cultural and national identity so all students study two languages as part of the Diploma Programme.

These 10 attributes form the foundations that underpin the IB Diploma Programme and we hope they will inspire our students to think about how they are going to achieve success over the next two years and life beyond formal Secondary school education. 

Approaches to Learning (or ATL)

Approaches to Learning are deliberate strategies, skills and attitudes that permeate the IB teaching and learning environment. They supports the IB belief that a large influence on a student’s education is not only what you learn but also how you learn. The ATLs focus on teaching students how to learn and this has always been a part of IB teaching, but now the IB is providing more explicit support for teaching these skills, aligning the Diploma Programme (DP) with the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the IB Career-related Programme (CP).

The focus on ATL will improve the quality of teaching and learning across the programmes and may result in more engaged teachers and students.

The IB Approaches to Learning skills are as follows:

1. Thinking skills    2. Communications skills    3. Social skills   4. Self-management skills   5. Research skills

To ensure the Approaches to Learning are embedded into the learning culture they are supported by the Approaches to Teaching (ATT) that include pedagogical strategies that are:

1. based on inquiry

2. focused on conceptual understanding

3. developed in local and global contexts

4. focused on effective teamwork and collaboration

5. differentiated to meet the needs of all learners

6. informed by formative and summative assessment.


Full IB Diploma

Those students who are aspiring to apply to a university undergraduate degree programme will be registered for the Full IB Diploma whereby they:

  • Select one subject from each group (unless a subject in group 6 is not taken, in which case a second subject from groups 1-5 should be chosen)
  • Either follow four of the six subjects at Higher Level (HL) and 2 at Standard Level (SL), or follow three of the six subjects at Higher Level (HL) and 3 at Standard Level (SL)
  • Follow a course of study in Theory of Knowledge (100 hours of tuition, 2 lessons per week)
  • Submit an Extended Essay in one of the IB subjects (up to 4,000 words)
  • Take part actively and effectively in Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS)
  • These students will need to obtain a minimum of 24 points (out of a possible 45) with no failing conditions.

IB Diploma Course

Those students who do not wish to study the Full IB Diploma, or for whom the Full Diploma is deemed inaccessible, can opt to be registered as an IB Diploma Course student. This means that they will not be entered for the full complement of six optional subjects plus the Core elements of TOK, EE and CAS, but rather any combination of optional subjects and Core elements of their choice. There is no set combination of subjects that must be chosen; rather the student decides what elements of the Full IB Diploma they wish to be examined in that best suits their academic needs and career aspirations.

Points and Grades

The IB awards a grade for each of the IB Diploma subjects taken with the maximum score for each subject being 7 points and a minimum being 1 point. This is the same whether the subject is taken at Standard Level or Higher Level. This gives a total subject score out of 42 if a student is taking the six subjects on the Full IB Diploma Programme. The grading is based on both the coursework carried out and the results of examinations at the end of the two-year linear programme. The maximum score for the IB Diploma is 45 points combining six subject grades (maximum of 6 x 7 points for a score of 42) with up to 3 points available for the successful completion of both the Extended Essay and the Theory of Knowledge components. The assessment of the final grades for the work completed throughout the two-year programme is determined by external examiners and moderators appointed by the IB.

University recognition

Universities in over 90 countries recognise the IB Diploma and it enables students to gain entrance to the most competitive universities around the world where admissions staff recognise the academic rigour of the IB. In the United Kingdom, it is a highly regarded alternative to A levels while in the United States, recognition of the IB Diploma is growing rapidly and many institutions will award first year credit for success on IB courses.

Universities look favourably upon IB Diploma students as the curriculum model develops a balanced variety of skills. These include ‘cognitive skills’ such as analysing and synthesising data and being able to partake in critical thinking with intellectual thought and insight. Students also develop ‘affective skills’ such as persistence and perseverance, developing resilience and working independently or as part of a team. IB Diploma students will be intellectually courageous within the range of subjects that they study and will be equipped for a greater choice of undergraduate degree programmes. The skill-set that Diploma Programme students develop, especially through experiencing the IB ‘Core’ are highly valued by universities. Employers are also increasingly looking for these affective skills such as flexibility and adaptability, which is something all Diploma Programme graduates are able to offer.

For further details on University recognition of Diploma Programme subjects in different countries please follow the link below:


For further information, please contact the Head of Sixth Form, Mrs Louise Brown, via the email address below:


Exam Fees

Please note that in line with other independent schools, NAS Dubai charges for all external examinations. Parents will receive invoices which will cover fees for i/GCSE and IB examinations. 

Re-sits will be charged as an additional cost (should they be required). Students, who have special requirements (i.e. a reader/scribe), may also incur additional charges. It is not possible for NAS Dubai to include these charges in the general school fees as each individual student incurs different costs.