IB Diploma Program Curriculum: Core Elements
The core of the curriculum model consists of three elements:
Element 1- Extended Essay
The extended essay of some 4,000 words offers the opportunity for IB students to investigate a topic of special interest related to one of the student’s six Diploma Program (DP) subjects/disciplines. An extended essay can also be undertaken in world studies. The world studies extended essay provides students with the opportunity to carry out an in-depth interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance, utilizing two IB diploma disciplines. Both types of extended essay (single-disciplinary and interdisciplinary essays) are intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity expected at the university level. They provide students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject or issue chosen. It is recommended that students follow the completion of the written essay with a short, concluding interview – viva voce – with the supervisor.
Element 2–Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
TOK plays a special role in the Diploma Program by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. The fundamental question of TOK is “how do we know that?” Students are encouraged to think about how knowledge is arrived at in different disciplines, what the disciplines have in common and the differences between the disciplinary. TOK therefore both supports and is supported by the study of other DP subjects, as students are required to explore knowledge questions against the backdrop of their experiences in their other DP subjects. Through discussion and critical reflection students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions, as well as developing an appreciation of the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives.
Element 3—Creativity-Action-Service or CAS
CAS is at the heart of the Diploma Program. CAS enables students to live the IB learner profile in real and practical ways, to grow as unique individuals and to recognize their role in relation to others. CAS is defined as:
• Creativity – arts and other experiences that involve creative thinking
• Action – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the IB Diploma Program
• Service – an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student.
Students develop skills and attitudes through a variety of individual and group activities that provide them with opportunities to express their passions, personalities and perspectives. CAS complements a challenging academic program in a holistic way, providing opportunities for self-determination, collaboration, accomplishment and enjoyment. Students are also required to undertake a CAS Project that challenges students to show initiative, demonstrate perseverance, and develop skills such as collaboration, problem solving, and decision making.
The school and students give CAS as much importance as any other element of the Diploma Program. Successful completion of CAS is a requirement for the IB Diploma. While not formally assessed, students reflect on their CAS experiences and provide evidence of achieving the eight learning outcomes.
Diploma Program Subject Groups
Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
It is a requirement of the program that students study at least one subject from group 1.
In group 1, students will study literature, including selections of literature in translation. Students will choose to study their group 1 subject(s) in a language in which they are academically competent.
In studying the group 1 courses, students are able to develop:
• a personal appreciation of language and literature
• skills in literary criticism
• an understanding of the formal, stylistic and aesthetic qualities of texts
• strong powers of expression, both written and oral
• an appreciation of cultural differences in perspective
The range of texts studied in language courses is broad, and students grow to appreciate a language’s complexity, wealth and subtleties in a variety of contexts. A specific aim is to engender a lifelong interest in literature and a love for the elegance and richness of human expression.
NSCS currently offers IB Language A: Literature HL.
Group 2: Language Acquisition
It is a requirement of the program that students study at least one subject from group 2.
The main emphasis of the modern language courses is on the acquisition and use of language in a range of contexts and for different purposes while, at the same time, promoting an understanding of another culture through the study of its language.
Group 3: Individuals and Societies
Students are required to choose one subject from each of the six academic areas, including one from Individuals and societies. They can choose a second subject from each academic area except the arts.
Studying any one of these subjects provides for the development of a critical appreciation of:
• human experience and behavior
• the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit
• the history of social and cultural institutions.
In addition, Group 3 studies are designed to foster in students the capacity to identify, to analyze critically and to evaluate theories, concepts and arguments relating to the nature and activities of individuals and societies.
NSCS currently offers IB History SL.
Group 4: Sciences
It is a requirement of the program that students study at least one subject from group 4. Students explore the concepts, theories, models and techniques that underpin each subject area and through these develop their understanding of the scientific method.
A compulsory project encourages students to appreciate the environmental, social and ethical implications of science. This exercise is collaborative and interdisciplinary and provides an opportunity for students to explore scientific solutions to global questions.
Group 5: Mathematics
It is a requirement of the program that students study at least one course in mathematics; computer science is an elective. The mathematics program enables students to:
• develop mathematical knowledge, concepts and principles
• develop logical, critical and creative thinking
• employ and refine their powers of abstraction and generalization.
Students are also encouraged to appreciate the international dimensions of mathematics and the multiplicity of its cultural and historical perspectives.
Group 6: The Arts
It is a requirement of the program that students choose one subject from each of the academic areas 1 – 5. Alongside these five courses, a student can choose to study a group 6 subject, or to study an additional subject from groups 1 – 5.
The emphasis is on creativity in the context of disciplined, practical research into the relevant genres. In addition, each subject is designed to foster critical, reflective and informed practice, help students understand the dynamic and changing nature of the arts, explore the diversity of arts across time, place and cultures, and express themselves with confidence and competence.
NSCS currently offers IB Music HL.