IB (International Baccalaureate) is an international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and founded in 1968. It offers four educational programmes: the IB Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Programme for students aged 16 to 19, the IB Middle Years Programme, designed for students aged 11 to 16, and the IB Primary Years Programme for children aged 3 to 12.
To be awarded an IB diploma, a candidate must fulfill three core requirements, in addition to passing his or her subject examinations:
Extended essay (EE). Candidates must write an independent research essay of up to 4,000 words in a subject from the list of approved EE subjects. The candidate may choose to investigate a topic within a subject they are currently studying, although this is not required. The EE may be written on an interdisciplinary topic.
Theory of knowledge (TOK). This course introduces students to theories about the nature and limitations of knowledge (basic epistemology) and provides practice in determining the meaning and validity of knowledge (critical thinking). It is claimed to be a "flagship element" of the Diploma Programme, and is the one course that all diploma candidates are required to take. TOK requires 100 hours of instruction, the completion of an externally assessed essay of 1600 words (from a choice of six titles prescribed by the IB worth 67%), and an internally assessed presentation (worth 33%) on the candidate's chosen topic.
Creativity, activity, service (CAS). CAS aims to provide students with opportunities for personal growth, self-reflection, intellectual, physical and creative challenges, and awareness of themselves as responsible members of their communities through participation in social or community work (service), athletics or other physical activities (activity), and creative activities (creativity). The guideline for the minimum amount of CAS activity over the two-year programme is approximately 3–4 hours per week, though "hour counting” is not encouraged. Previously, there was a requirement that 150 CAS hours be completed, but this was abolished in 2010. However, some schools still require these hours.
The six IBDP subject groups and course offerings:
Group 1: Studies in language and literature. Taken at either SL or HL, this is generally the student's native language, with over 80 languages available. As of courses starting in summer 2011, there are two options for Language A (previously A1): Literature, which is very similar to the old course, and Language and Literature, a slightly more challenging adaptation of the former Group 2 Language A2 subjects, which have been withdrawn. The interdisciplinary subject Literature and Performance can also be taken at SL.
Group 2: Language acquisition. An additional language, taken at the following levels: Language B (SL or HL), or Language ab initio (SL only). Latin and Classical Greek are also offered and may be taken at SL or HL.Following the replacement of the Language A2 option with the Group 1 Language and Literature offering for courses starting in summer 2011, the Language B syllabus was changed: the coursework is now more rigorous, and at HL, there is the compulsory study of two works of literature (although this is for comprehension rather than analysis and is only assessed through coursework). In addition, B SL students can study one of the texts as a replacement for the optional topics.
Group 3: Individuals and societies. Humanities and social sciences courses offered at both SL and HL: Business and Management, Economics, Geography, History, Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS), Philosophy, Psychology, and Social and Cultural Anthropology and Global Politics. The course World Religions and the interdisciplinary course Environmental Systems and Societies are also offered at SL only.
Group 4: Experimental sciences. Five courses are offered at both SL and HL: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Design Technology and Computer Science. The course Sport, Exercise and Health Science and the interdisciplinary course Environmental Systems and Societies are offered at SL only.
Group 5: Mathematics. In order of increasing difficulty, the courses offered are Mathematical Studies SL, Mathematics SL and HL, and Further Mathematics HL. The computer science elective courses were moved to Group 4 as a full course from first examinations in 2014.
Group 6: The arts. Courses offered at both SL and HL: Dance, foreign languages, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Film. In lieu of taking a Group 6 course, students may choose to take an additional course from Groups 1–4 or either Further Mathematics HL (if already studying Mathematics HL) a Computer science course from Group 4, or a school-based syllabus course approved by IB. The interdisciplinary subject Literature and Performance is also offered, although currently only at SL.
Environmental systems and societies SL is an interdisciplinary course designed to meet the diploma requirements for groups 3 and 4, while Literature and Performance SL meets the requirements of Groups 1 and 6
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