About the IB -
Knowing the International Baccalaureate

Our IB Guide

This page is full of information about the Diploma Programme. You can read our full Guide to the IB here.

The IB programme is now offered in over 146 countries worldwide, and in over 3,000 schools. A programme which started in only 1968 is expanding at a rate of knots as schools the world over acknowledge the plethora of benefits of this balanced, challenging, and internationally recognised programme.

The IB is offered is over 3,000 schools worldwide

It is currently offered in 146 countries around the world

The number of schools offering the programme has doubled in the past 10 years!

Only 0.25% of students obtained the maximum score of 45/45 last year

Key facts about the IB Diploma Programme

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

The IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme) is a post-secondary education programme, taken by students around the world between the ages of 16 and 18. It is an equivalent qualification to the UK’s A-Levels, the US’s AP exams, and the Scottish Highers System. The IBDP is internationally well-regarded, and can afford its students entry into universities and employment around the world.

The strength of the DP is in its depth and breadth. Students are immersed in a range of subjects (from six groups) and to depths of inquiry traditionally associated with programmes that have fewer subject requirements, for example A-Levels. The core components of the DP - Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay (EE) and C.A.S - bolster the traditional subjects and consolidate learning, knowledge and, perhaps most importantly, thinking skills and their application.

It is the breadth of knowledge, married with the depth to which each subject is studied, that really sets the IB apart.

The IBDP Structure

An IBDP student must take 6 subjects, as well as completing an independently researched Extended Essay, participating in Theory of Knowledge, and carrying out 150 hours of Creativity, Action, and Service. Only upon completion of all these components is an IB graduate awarded the full IB Diploma.


IB Resources

Our resources page is one of the best places to get your hands on IB resources, from academic calendars to exam timetables.

UK Map of IB Schools

Our map of IB schools is the most up-to-date archive of IB Schools and which IB programmes they teach.

Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
This is usually the student’s mother tongue, and will require fluency in the language chosen. Students will tackle literary texts in this language, and all examinations and internally assessed work in this subject will be in the chosen language.

Group 2: Language Acquisition
Students can choose to take a language without prior study (ab initio), or can build on pre-existing knowledge of a language. This must not be the student's first language, as the course aims to develop language-learning ability, as well as a deeper understanding of another culture.

Group 3: Individuals & Societies
Students choose from a range of Humanities subjects, including but not limited to, History, Geography, Economics, and Business & Management.

Group 4: Sciences
Any of the traditional Science subjects can be chosen here, as well as Environmental Systems & Societies (ESS), which can be taken as either a Group 3 or 4 subject, and Computer Science, Design Technology, and Sports Science.

Group 5: Maths
Students must take a level of Mathematics, but can choose from a wider range than usual; Mathematics SL and HL are offered, as for most subjects, but students can also choose Mathematical Studies, only offered as a Standard Level (SL) subject, or Further Mathematics, which is only offered as a Higher Level (HL) subject.

Group 6: Arts
The Arts include Visual Arts, Drama, Film, and Music. A student may opt not to take a Group 6 subject, and instead take a further subject in a language (Groups 1&2), a social science (Group 3), or a science (Group 4).

Higher Level/Standard Level (HL/SL)

Each of the DP subjects carry a subject 'level'. Most subjects are offered at both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL), and a Diploma student must take at least three subjects at Higher Level (HL), and no more than three at Standard Level (SL). Some students choose to take an additional HL subject, but it is advised to discuss this well in advance with your school or education provider. As a rough indication of the difficulty of each level, the IB advises approximately 240 hours of teaching time for HLs and 160 for SLs, and the difference between HL and SL in each subject varies, so it is best to discover what 'extras' you are able to study by opting for HL in each of your subjects. Some Subjects - like ESS, Maths Studies, Further Maths - are only available at one level, and so it is important that this is taken into consideration when making final subject selections.

Theory of Knowledge

One of the IB’s additional compulsory aspects is TOK (Theory of Knowledge). This, combined with the EE, constitutes the additional 3 bonus points that students may accrue. To fail both TOK & the EE is a failing condition of the Diploma, no matter the student’s academic attainment. Theory of Knowledge is an interdisciplinary study in critical thinking and encourages discussion of the extent & limits of knowledge in an epistemological fashion. Students are assessed through an essay and an in-class presentation.

The Extended Essay (EE)

The other compulsory aspect of the 3 bonus points is the Extended Essay, a 4,000 word study in a subject and specific area of the student’s choice. Although students are usually strongly encouraged to write their EE in a subject area that they already take, the World Studies EE option represents an interdisciplinary Humanities-based option which is not a stand-alone IBDP subject.

Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)

The final compulsory element of the IBDP does not give final IB points to Diploma students, but must be completed in order to attain the full Diploma. CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) requires students to undertake 150 hours of Creativity, Action, and Service over the 2 years of the IBDP, encouraging well-rounded and community-aware students. Rather than viewing them as another hoop to jump through such as the Duke of Edinburgh hours, they are a unique opportunity to gain credit for your interests outside of school, and it is for this reason IB graduates are so well regarded by Universities and Employers. You will be surprised by how much you can already sign off, almost anything can ‘count’ for CAS. Though it seems taxing at first, completing CAS hours will turn out to be a welcome excuse to get a break from studying, and embrace new and old hobbies!

Learner Profile

The IBO prides itself on the Learner Profile of its students. The aim is to nurture students who are "principled", "risk-takers", "open-minded" and "thinkers". The organisation's dedication to creating a community of life-long learners well-versed in the values of citizenship and moral practice is clear.


The programme offers a chance for the all-rounder to shine, whilst simultaneously providing those with a clear focus of their ambitions with a worthwhile grounding for further study - no skills are lost too early, and universities and employers are the first to acknowledge and appreciate the knowledgeable, balanced and hard-working student that the IBDP helps to nurture.

The IBO's Diploma Programme Learner's Profile.

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