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International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

What is the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB Diploma Programme is designed as a challenging and balanced programme of education for students in Years 12 & 13, with final examinations that prepare students for success at university and life beyond.

The programme, which is taught over two years, has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities, is offered by some 3000 IB World Schools in about 130 different countries.

Since the late 1960s, the programme has:

  • provided a package of education that balances subject breadth and depth, and considers the nature of knowledge across disciplines through the unique theory of knowledge course.
  • encouraged international-mindedness in IB students, starting with a foundation in their own language and culture.
  • developed a positive attitude to learning that prepares students for university education
  • gained a reputation for its rigorous external assessment with published global standards, making this a qualification welcomed by universities worldwide.
  • emphasised the development of the whole student – physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically.

The Curriculum

IB Diploma Programme students study six courses at higher level or standard level. Students must choose one subject from each of groups 1 to 5, thus ensuring breadth of experience in Languages, Humanities, the Experimental Sciences and Mathematics.

IBDP Programme


The sixth subject may be an arts subject chosen from group 6, or the student may choose another subject from groups 1 to 5.

At least three and not more than four subjects are taken at higher level (recommended 240 teaching hours), the others at standard level (150 teaching hours). These subjects are largely externally assessed by examinations in May of the second year, that is, Year13.

Students will develop an understanding of the IB learner profile. The ten aspirational qualities of the learner profile inspire and motivate the work of teachers, students and schools, providing a statement of the aims and values of the IB and a definition of what we mean by “international-mindedness”. IB learners strive to be inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, knowledgeable, principled, open-minded, caring, balanced and reflective.

In addition, the programme has three core requirements that are included to broaden the educational experience and challenge students to apply their knowledge and understanding.

The Extended Essay is a requirement for students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the subjects they are studying.

Theory of Knowledge is a course designed to encourage each student to reflect on the nature of knowledge by critically examining different ways of knowing (perception, emotion, language, and reason) and different kinds of knowledge (scientific, artistic, mathematical and historical).

Creativity, Activity, Service requires that students actively learn from the experience of doing real tasks beyond the classroom. Students can combine all three components or do activities related to each one of them separately.


Students take written examinations at the end of the programme (in May), which are marked by external IB examiners. Students also complete assessment tasks in the school, which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners.

The marks awarded for each course range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest). Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results on Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay. The Diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance across the whole programme and to satisfactory participation in the Creativity, Activity, Service requirement. The highest total that a Diploma Programme student can be awarded is 45 points, though few students achieve this worldwide in any given year. NCBIS achieved a top score of 42 points in our first year of IB Diploma Examinations.

Assessment is criterion based, which means student performance is measured against pre-specified assessment criteria based on the aims and objectives of each subject curriculum, rather than the performance of other students taking the same examinations.