IB Diploma Programme
What is the IB Diploma Programme?
The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education, with final examinations, that prepares students aged 16 to 19 for success at university and in life beyond. It has been designed to address the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of students. The programme has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.
What the DP offers students
Through the DP, schools are able to develop students who:
- have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge
- flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically
- study at least two languages
- excel in traditional academic subjects
- explore the nature of knowledge through the programme’s unique theory of knowledge course
The curriculum is made up of six subject groups and the DP Core.
The six subject groups are:
- Studies in language and literature
- Language acquisition
- Individuals and societies
- The arts
There are different courses within each subject group.
DP students must choose one course from each of five subject groups delivering a breadth of knowledge and understanding in language and literature, individuals and societies, the sciences and mathematics. Furthermore, students must also choose either an arts course from the arts group or a second course from one of the other subject groups.
DP courses can be taken at higher level (HL) or standard level (SL). At least three, and not more than four, are taken at HL (240 teaching hours), while the remaining courses are taken at SL (150 teaching hours). SL courses ensure students are exposed to a range of disciplines that they might otherwise opt out of, and HL courses allow students to spend more time with subjects they are more interested in by exploring options in addition to the SL core curriculum. In this sense, all DP courses, regardless of whether they are SL or HL, are integral to the programme.
Two courses are classified as interdisciplinary, meaning that they satisfy the requirements of more than one subject group.
- Literature and performance (studies in language and literature subject group and the arts subject group)
- Environmental systems and societies (individuals and societies subject group and sciences subject group)
In addition to disciplinary and interdisciplinary study, the DP features three core elements that broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills.
The DP core aims to broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills. The three core elements are:
Theory of knowledge (TOK) - develops a coherent approach to learning that unifies the academic disciplines. In this course on critical thinking, students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
The extended essay (EE)- is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper. The students engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the DP subjects they are studying.
Creativity, activity, service (CAS)- emphasizes helping students to develop their own identities in accordance with the ethical principles embodied in the IB mission statement and the IB learner profile. CAS complements a challenging academic programme in a holistic way, providing opportunities for self-determination, collaboration, accomplishment and enjoyment. It involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies throughout the DP. The three strands of CAS are:
- Creativity – exploring and extending ideas leading to an original or interpretive product or performance
- Activity – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle
- Service – collaborative and reciprocal engagement with the community in response to an authentic need
Assessments and Grading
Students take written examinations at the end of the programme, which are marked by external IB examiners. Students also complete assessment tasks in the school, which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners. The grades awarded for each course range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest). Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results on TOK and the EE. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance across the whole programme and to satisfactory participation in the CAS requirement. The highest total that a DP student can be awarded is 45 points. Assessment is criterion-related, which means student performance is measured against specified assessment criteria based on the aims and objectives of each subject’s curriculum, rather than the performance of other students taking the same examinations.
Whether conducted in collaboration with the IB or independently, research generally suggests that an IB education has a positive impact on schools, students and teachers. Research plays a central role in the development, quality assurance and assessment of impact of the IB programmes and services. The IB conducts research in two key areas: programme impact research, which investigates the implementation and impact of IB programmes, and programme development research, which supports the development review of all programme curriculum and pedagogy. Research conducted both by the IB and external bodies show the DP curriculum and assessment compares favourably to other qualifications. To review latest research on the DP visit www.ibo.org/research.