The IB Core


The IB Core

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

This epistemology class is an interdisciplinary requirement intended to stimulate critical reflection and to develop analytical skill built on experience gained inside and outside the classroom. The course challenges students to question the bases of knowledge, to be aware of subjective and ideological biases and to develop the ability to analyze evidence. TOK is a key element in encouraging students to appreciate other cultural perspectives.

The course is unique to the IB, which recommends at least 100 hours of teaching time spanning the two years of the Diploma Programme.

Diploma candidates are encouraged to reflect on different areas of knowledge through a variety of ways of knowing. 

Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)

The IB’s goal is to educate the whole person, to help students become responsible, compassionate citizens. The CAS requirement encourages students to share their energy and special talents with others: students may, for example, participate in theatre or musical productions, sports and community service activities.

Students should, through these activities, develop greater awareness of themselves and concern for others, and the ability to work co-operatively with other people.

  • Creativity is interpreted broadly. It includes a wide range of arts activities but can also be defined as the creativity that students show in designing and implementing service projects or learning a new skill
  • Action can include not only participation in individual and team sports but also taking part in expeditions and in local or international projects.
  • Service encompasses a variety of community, social and service activities, such as helping children with special needs, visiting hospitals, schools and orphanages and working with refugees or homeless people. 

As a result of their CAS experience as a whole, including their reflections, there should be evidence that students have:

  • increased their awareness of their own strengths and areas for growth;
  • undertaken new challenges;
  • planned and initiated activities;
  • worked collaboratively with others;
  • shown perseverance and commitment in their activities;
  • engaged with issues of global importance;
  • considered the ethical implications of their actions;
  • developed new skills. 

Extended Essay

Each student has the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest in a 4,000-word research paper. The extended essay requirement acquaints Diploma candidates with the kind of independent research and writing skills expected by universities. The IB recommends that a student devote a total of about 40 hours of private study and writing time to the essay, which may be written in one of 60 subjects.

The essay permits students to deepen their understanding of programmes of study, for example by selecting a topic in one of their courses, or adding breadth to their academic experience by electing to write in a discipline not included in their programme choices.