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Diploma Programme Curriculum Overview (Grades 11 – 12)

What is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme?

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is a rigorous pre-university course of studies, which meets the needs of highly motivated secondary school students between the ages of 16 and 19 years. The programme leads to examinations, but emphasis is also placed on externally assessed coursework as a way of balancing a range of different assessment styles. Designed as a comprehensive two-year curriculum that allows its graduates to fulfill the requirements of various national education systems, the diploma model is based on the pattern of no single country but incorporates the best elements of several. The programme is available in English, French, Japanese, and Spanish. You can also learn more about the DP and other IB Programmes by clicking here and visiting the official IBO Website.

What are the benefits of the IB Diploma?

There are a number of special benefits to be gained by students in the IB, particularly for those in the full diploma programme. They include:

  • A genuine intellectual challenge, even for the most academically inclined
  • A globally recognized programme and curriculum
  • An international standard of achievement
  • The acquisition of an international and multi-cultural perspective
  • Social services activities
  • Advanced standing at many universities
  • A programme designed to meet the needs of the international community
  • Rigorous internal and external assessment
  • Teachers specifically trained to teach at this level
  • The opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic of individual choice
  • Excellence in education
What subjects are offered within the IB Diploma?

The IB Curriculum Model is often shown as a hexagon – each side representing one of the six groups of subjects which must be studied by students in the programme:

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  • The IB curriculum consists of six subject groups. These are studied concurrently and students are expected to study both the humanities and the sciences, as well as mathematics.
  • Diploma candidates must select one subject from each of the six groups, although a second subject from groups 1 to 5 may be substituted for group 6.
  • At least three but not more than four are taken at Higher Level (HL), while the others are taken at Standard Level (SL).
  • HL courses represent a minimum of 240 teaching hours. SL courses cover 150 hours.

Students are thus able to explore some subjects in depth and others more broadly, a deliberate compromise between the early specialization of some national systems and the breadth found in others. The science-oriented student is challenged to learn a foreign language and the natural linguist becomes familiar with laboratory procedures. The subjects are continually reviewed and revised to meet contemporary needs.

What is the difference between the IB Diploma and the IB Courses?

For the IB Diploma Programme:

  • Students take 3 (or 4) subjects at Higher Level and 3 (or 2) at Standard Level (total 6 subjects). This is for motivated and capable students.
  • Students write a 4000 word Extended Essay based upon independent research.
  • Students follow a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course of 100 hours.
  • Students complete the Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) extra-curricular program of 150 hours, which has a special emphasis on cooperative and community-based activities.

For the IB Courses Programme:

  • Students take 0, 1 or 2 subjects at Higher Level and 4 or 5 or 6 at Standard Level (total 6 subjects).
  • Students complete the Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) extra-curricular program of 150 hours, which has a special emphasis on cooperative and community-based activities.
How challenging is the IB Diploma?

The IB Diploma is a rigorous and academically demanding programme. Students are expected to bring with them, and to develop, strong organisational and interpersonal skills. Efficient time management will help students bear the workload. Each year approximately 80% of candidates are awarded the Diploma globally.

Is the IB Diploma accepted by universities worldwide?

IB Diploma graduates gain admission to selective universities throughout the world. These include well-known European and American institutions such as Oxford, Yale and the Sorbonne in addition to prestigious centers in Latin America, Canada, Australia, and the Asia/Pacific region. Formal agreements exist between the IBO and many ministries of education and private institutions. Some colleges and universities may offer advanced standing or course credit to students with strong IB examination results. Specific requirements exist for entry into universities in China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

It is important that individual students ascertain precisely the requirements of their chosen university with regard to the IB Diploma as early as possible. Prospective students would benefit from having some knowledge of entrance requirements at their chosen universities before selecting subjects for study within the IB Programme.

How well does the MYP prepare students for the Diploma Programme?

The middle years programme (MYP) was developed to have a similar structure and rigor to the IB diploma programme, but for younger students. Thus the subject areas and community involvement aspects have a natural progression to the diploma programme. In addition, Areas of Interaction, such as Homo Faber, raise awareness of knowledge issues which are explored later in Theory of Knowledge (TOK). The MYP Personal Project – an extended creative research project - has its counterpart in the extended essay (IBDP). The MYP is thus excellent preparation for the diploma programme.

In addition, at BCIS the skills taught in Grade 10 – the pre-IB year – are carefully monitored to ensure that students are fully prepared to tackle the more advanced skills required for the Diploma Programme.


BCIS is accredited by the CIS (Council of International Schools) and WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), which demonstrates that the school meets demanding international standards in all the areas of philosophy and objectives, curriculum, governance and management, staff, student support services, resources, and student and community life.Visit www.cois.org and www.acswasc.org for more information.

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation, motivated by its mission, focused on the student. The three programmes for students aged 3 to 19 help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Founded in 1968, IBO currently works with 2,771 schools in 138 countries to develop and offer three challenging programmes to over 763,000 students aged 3 to 19 years.Visit www.ibo.org for more information.

We live by a spirit of inspiring others, achieving ones goals and creating a better world.

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