The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme


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What is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme?

The IB Diploma is an internationally recognised programme of study and assessment that is governed by an independent non-profit making organisation – there are currently 3,717 authorised IB schools operating in 146 countries across the world*.

The curriculum and pedagogy of IB programmes focus on international perspectives of learning and teaching, while requiring students explore their home culture and language. The programme aims to develop active learners with enquiring minds who maintain a breadth of subject knowledge and develop as young people both inside and outside the classroom. IB programmes are recognised and highly regarded by universities and employers around the world and ensure an increased adaptability and mobility for pupils.

The above video was fully designed, filmed and produced by Tom Zierbock an S5 IB pupil. Although not his the main reason for the project, this will count towards the Creativity, (Action) and Service aspects of his IB Diploma. The video shows three pupils, James Burton, Courtney Levey and David Wolffe who graduated from GWC in Summer 2013 recounting their views of the IBDP at GWC.


The combination of breadth and academic rigour offered by the IB Diploma programme ensures that pupils will enjoy a varied and challenging S5&6 that will provide them with an excellent preparation for life at university and in the wider world beyond.

*As at Feb 2014

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The IB Mission Statement

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

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The IB Diploma Programme Curriculum

The following diagram represents the structure and features of the IB Diploma Programme.

IB diagram

©IBO 2012

The IB Diploma Programme aims to develop the whole person including, and beyond, purely their academic potential. The three compulsory components that are unique to the IBDP: Theory of Knowledge, Creativity, Action and Service and the Extended Essay have a strong role to play in this. The Extended Essay is a significant piece of supported but independent research on a topic which interests the individual and is a very useful preparation for further study beyond school. Theory of Knowledge is a course that aims to make links across the subject areas and gets pupils to question and think actively about knowledge and the world they live in. Pupils must also participate in 150 hours of Creativity, Action and Service ensuring they have a healthy and balanced lifestyle as well as giving something back to their community. (More details of each of these areas can be found in the document IBDP Subject Choice).

The IB believes that breadth and concurrency of study is an important feature of school education and to this end pupils undertaking the Diploma Programme study six academic subjects throughout both S5 and S6; three at Standard Level (similar to SQA Higher) and three at Higher Level (similar to SQA Advanced Higher). Pupils must chose one subject from each of the groups represented in the above diagram with the exception of the Arts; pupils can either chose an Arts subject or a 2nd subject from the other 5 groups. Each of these subjects has a coursework component which forms part of the final assessment grade in each subject area.

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The IB Diploma Programme Student

The Learner Profile, shown at the centre of the hexagon, is a translation of the IB’s Mission Statement into a set of learner outcomes. At all stages of the course, in all areas of the course, reflection and action are encouraged in pupils (as well as teachers) that they might seek to be:

Inquirers They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.
Knowledgeable They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.
Thinkers They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognize and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions.
Communicators They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.
Principled They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.
Open-minded They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.
Caring They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.
Risk-takers They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.
Balanced They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.
Reflective They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.

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The IB Diploma Programme and University Recognition

Both in the UK and internationally universities highly value the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme as preparation for university study. In particular it prepares pupils for the academic rigours of university study as well as developing the skills necessary to work independently. The university of Glasgow conducted research to determine how readily students entering the university attained an upper second class degree or better and found that those entering with an IB Diploma were on average 28% more likely to achieve this than the cohort as a whole.

‘Students with the IB qualification appear to readily make (or have made) the transition from being receivers of knowledge, to being seekers of knowledge’
- Watson’s Parent, University Lecturer and Admissions

The following are quotes from university admissions tutors:

"The University of St Andrews welcomes students with the IB Diploma and regards it as an excellent preparation for entry into Scottish Higher Education."
The University of St Andrews

"The International Baccalaureate is highly regarded by Admissions Tutors at Cambridge University for entry to all subjects."
The University of Cambridge

“Colleagues feel that the IB Diploma Programme gives a breadth of personal, professional and academic preparation, encourages an international outlook and instills the value of independent learning.”
Leslie Currie
Recruitment and Admissions Office, University of Bath, UK

“IB is well known to us as excellent preparation. Success in an IB programme correlates well with success at Harvard. We are pleased to see the credentials of the IB Diploma Programme on the transcript.”
Marlyn McGrath Lewis
Assistant Dean of Admissions, Harvard University, USA

“McGill has enthusiastically recruited IB students for over two decades.
Even today, when reviewing an application from an IB diploma candidate, whether from the local CEGEP (collège d’enseignement general et professionnel) or the other side of the globe, our admissions officers can be assured of the candidate’s strong and broad?based academic preparation. We have seen that IB students embrace the rigorous academic challenges of university life and perform well in their McGill programmes. As a member of the College and University Recognition Taskforce, I can attest to the respected position of the IB diploma at prestigious universities throughout North America.”

Kim Bartlett
Director of Admissions, McGill University, Canada

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Why Should I Study the IB Diploma Programme?

  • A holistic educational experience - more than a set of discrete examinable subjects.
  • Courses which are current, relevant and interesting.
  • Develops all aspects of the person – academic knowledge as well as the skills necessary for being an effective contributor to society. (see Learner Profile)
  • Excellent preparation for university and highly regarded by university admissions tutors both in the UK and abroad.
  • Enables a breadth and depth of study until the end of secondary education.
  • Supports pupils in making connections in their learning – across subjects and into the wider world.
  • Places an importance on pupils developing both an understanding of their own culture but also their place in an international society.
  • Allows for greater mobility for pupils beyond school into further education and the work place, both in the UK and abroad.
  • A programme which is independent from government intervention and as such not subject to grade inflation.

How is the IB Diploma Programme Assessed?

Pupils study six subjects and each subject has a coursework component that contributes to the final grade; this varies from 20% to 100% depending on the subject. Pupils will sit external exams in S6.

Each subject will be shown on the certificate as a mark out of seven and up to three marks are awarded for the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge Essay and Oral Presentation. Thus the Diploma is awarded as a score out of 45.

Entry to university is based on a conditional offer of a number of points and, depending on the course, there could be specific subject requirements. The following are a few 2010 university requirements:

29 Points with 5, 5, 5 at HL
Primary Education, University of Dundee

SL in English, Minimum of 30 points with at least 15 points at HL. Minimum of 34 points for direct entry into 2nd year.
Economics, University of Aberdeen

Award of Diploma with 34 points overall and grades 555 in HL subjects including English. Standard Level: A language other than English at 4, and Mathematics or an approved science at 4
Law, University of Edinburgh

International Baccalaureate candidates are required to achieve the full IB, 36 points, with Chemistry and Biology at the Higher Level (Grades 6 or 7) and either Physics or Mathematics at Standard Level (Minimum Grade 5).
Vet Medicine, University of Glasgow

38-40 points in the Diploma with HL English.
English Literature, Oxford University



What you need to know about the IB and the Diploma Programme (part 1, PDF)


What you need to know about the IB and the Diploma Programme (part 2, PDF)


The International Baccalaureate - The University Admissions Perspective


Report Highlights Success for IB Students


The IB Experience Through the Eyes of a Pupil


Theory of Knowledge explained for Parents (video or pdf available)


International Baccalaureate - 6 months on!


IB Language Experience at GWC - A Pupil's View (in IB Languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin and French)


IB Language Experience at GWC - Pupils' views (in English)


The Group 4 Science Project at GWC

Visit the UK IB focused website


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