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IB Diploma Programme Overview

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a two-year course for 16 to 18-year-olds that is highly regarded by top universities and colleges around the world. The IB Programme provides our students with rich opportunities to develop an outstanding breadth and depth of knowledge and grow into internationally-minded citizens. 

The IB programme outline is uniform throughout IB schools worldwide and provides a Diploma to meet university admission standards internationally. Major universities throughout the world hold the IB Diploma in high regard. 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.

The International Baccalaureate Diploma provides a well-balanced course of studies comprising a broad range of subjects and activities. It provides scope for academic achievement and worthwhile creative engagement, sporting activity and community service.

It is ‘international’ not only because it is accepted worldwide, but also because it is a cross-cultural programme followed by thousands of young adults who thereby gain knowledge of, and respect for, the cultures of 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

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 - Language and Literature (HL/SL)

English Language and Literature, English Literature

Group 2 - Language Acquisition (HL/SL)

Arabic, French, German, Mandarin and Spanish


Language Acquisition Ab initio (SL only)

Arabic, French, German, Mandarin and Spanish

Group 3 - Individuals and Societies (HL/SL)

Business Management, Economics, Environmental Systems and Societies (SL only), Geography, Global Politics, History and Psychology

Group 4 – Sciences (HL/SL)

Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Design and Technology, Environmental Systems and Societies (SL only), Physics and Sports Exercise & Health Science (SEHS)

Group 5 – Mathematics (HL/SL)

Analysis and Approaches, Applications and Interpretations

Group 6 - The Arts (HL/SL)

Music, Theatre and Visual Arts

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. 

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 (group 6 can be replaced by a group 3 or 4 subjects)
  • Follow three of the six subjects at Higher Level (HL) and 3 at Standard Level (SL)
  • Learn about Theory of Knowledge
  • Submit an Extended Essay
  • Take part actively and effectively in Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS)
  • 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 can opt to be registered as an IB Diploma Course student. They study 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.