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IB Diploma Programme Overview

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:​

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):

Group 1 - Studies in Language and Literature, English Language and Literature (HL/SL)

Group 2 - Language Acquisition (HL/SL) Arabic, French, German, Mandarin and Spanish


Language ab initio (SL only): Arabic, French, German, Mandarin and Spanish

Group 3 - Individuals and Societies (HL/SL)

Business Management, Economics, Geography, History and Psychology

Group 4 – Sciences (HL/SL)

Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Sports Exercise Health Science (SEHS), Computer Science and Design Technology

Group 5 – Mathematics (HL/SL), Analysis and Approaches, Applications and Interpretations

Group 6 - The Arts (HL/SL), Visual Arts, Music and Theatre

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 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).

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. 

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.