In addition to subjects chosen, IB Diploma students also undertake a core component, consisting of three courses. All of these courses must be successfully completed to be awarded the Diploma. Each component is designed to help develop skills students will require for study at university. Each component has a very specific set of criteria to be met, the detail of which can be found below.

Theory of Knowledge (ToK)

Theory of knowledge (ToK) plays a special role in the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. – IB Diploma Programme Theory of Knowledge guide.

ToK is an interdisciplinary course taught by a specialist teacher, designed to develop an appreciation of other academic studies and cultural perspectives. ToK encourages critical thinking with a focus on knowledge questions such as:

  • What counts as knowledge?
  • How does knowledge grow?
  • What are its limits?
  • Who owns knowledge?
  • What is the value of knowledge?

Assessment of the course consists of an exhibition and an essay and a presentation. The emphasis of this presentation is on demonstrating an understanding of knowledge at work in the world.

Extended Essay

The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects and one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB Diploma. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor. – IB DP subject guide for the Extended Essay

The Extended Essay is an extended piece of writing of no more than 4000 words.  This research based piece is one of the elements of the IB Diploma that makes it so valuable to college and university admissions because it prepares students for the kind of independent research, thinking, writing and presentation skills that are expected at higher education institutions.

The Extended Essay builds on skills developed within the MYP Personal Project but is a much more formal academic piece of research.

At ISUtrecht the Extended Essay involves researched ideas and proposals honed into specific and answerable questions, developed by the student with guidance from a chosen supervisor. Sessions are given in research, resource utilisation, and in academic writing. A draft is written over the summer vacation at the end of DP1 (grade 11) and the final essay submitted for external assessment early in DP2 (grade 12). The essay is awarded a grade from A – E and is combined on a grid with the Theory of Knowledge for up to 3 additional points towards the IB Diploma.

Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS)

…if you believe in something, you must not just think or talk or write, but must act. – Peterson 2003

CAS represents the core values of the Diploma Programme enabling students to demonstrate key traits of the IB learner profile in a more practical way.  The CAS programme consists of three strands:

  • Creativity – exploring and extending ideas, which leads to an original or interpretive product or performance
  • Activity – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle
  • Service – collaborative and reciprocal engagement with the community in response to an authentic need

As a holistic approach, CAS aims to provide opportunities for self determination, collaboration, accomplishment but most of all enjoyment.  Students will develop skills through a variety of individual and group experiences whilst at the same time allowing them to explore areas of interest or develop passions, personalities and perspectives.

CAS experiences are unique to the student since everyone begins the journey from a different starting point and all learners are different.  For many learners CAS can be life-changing and we hope this will be the case for our students too.  By providing a supportive framework of stages on which to develop a portfolio of evidence, students are able to track learning outcomes and therefore progression over the time of the course.  Students will undertake a month long project, take part in formal interviews with their advisor and complete reflections throughout the process.  Students need to demonstrate that they have met each of the 7 learning outcomes to successfully complete the course.

For more information, please view the core requirements by the International Baccalaureate Organisation.