The IB Diploma explained

The IB Diploma is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education that prepares students for success at university and beyond. The qualification is taught in over 3,200 schools in almost 150 countries, and 120 of those schools are in the UK. 

  • The curriculum

    The IB Diploma curriculum comprises six subject groups and a core of three elements.

    Subject groups

    Group 1: Studies in language and literature


    Group 2: Language acquisition

    French, German, Spanish, Latin, Greek

    Group 3: Individuals and societies

    Business and Management, Economics, Geography, History, Philosophy, Environmental Systems and Societies

    Group 4: Sciences

    Biology, Chemistry, Design and Technology, Physics, Sports, Exercise and Health Science, Environmental Systems and Societies

    Group 5: Mathematics

    Mathematics at various levels

    Group 6: The arts

    Music, Theatre Studies, Visual Arts

  • Core

    The core is made up of three components, which are studied by all Diploma pupils and are designed to broaden pupils’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills.

    Theory of knowledge (TOK)

    This critical thinking course is designed to develop a coherent approach to learning by exploring the nature of knowledge across disciplines. TOK is composed almost entirely of questions, and asks pupils to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. Assessment is through an oral presentation and a 1,600-word essay.

    Extended essay

    The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper. Pupils choose a topic that interests them relating to one of the subjects that they are studying to examine in depth. The extended essay develops a pupil’s capacity to analyse, synthesise and evaluate knowledge and is excellent preparation for undergraduate study.

    Creativity, activity, service (CAS)

    This programme involves pupils in a range of artistic pursuits, sports, and community service activities alongside their academic studies and fosters pupils’ awareness and appreciation of life outside the academic arena. All elements of the CAS programme are central to the ethos of King Edward’s School and provide recognition for the thriving co-curricular side of school life that boys are encouraged to participate in throughout their time here.

  • The points system

    Each of the six subjects, whether taken at a Higher or Standard Level, has a maximum score of seven points. In addition, there are three points for TOK and the extended essay. CAS is not marked but every candidate must fulfil the requirements of that element. A pass in the Diploma is 24 points and the maximum point score is 45; 38 points is the standard offer made by the best universities.

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