What does the Diploma Curriculum Contain?
The curriculum contains six subject groups and a core of three parts.
- Students study concurrently:
- Three subjects at higher level (240 hours each)
- Three subjects at standard level (150 hours each)
- All three parts of the core
© International Baccalaureate Organization 2007
Group 1 Language A1
Subject: English Higher Level
The first half of the two-year Language A1 HL course, as a natural continuation of the MYP English courses, requires students to read, write, and think from both a personal and critical perspective.
This course offers students the opportunity to explore works across multiple genres with a special emphasis on fiction. Course texts span multiple time periods from the High Renaissance to the Modern age and include selections written by a broad array of writers who represent, in their diversity, a global perspective that is essential to IB language studies. The purpose underpinning the study of literature in this course is not just to “know” the literature, but also to use texts as lenses through which to explore, reflect on, and mediate the essential questions, the philosophical and abstract ideas that have roiled under the gaze of man for millennia.
In addition to the continued development of professional reading and writing skills initiated in the MYP English courses, this course challenges students to study, write about, and engage in the analysis of literature from a scholarly perspective.
The second half of the two-year Language A1 HL course, as a natural continuation of the MYP English courses and the first half of the Language A1 course, requires students to continue to refine the professional reading and writing skills and strategies developed in the earlier MYP and DP courses.
As with the year one course, this class offers students the opportunity to explore works across multiple genres, but with a special emphasis on drama and poetry. Course texts include two works by William Shakespeare, selected modern dramatic works, a series of poetic pieces, and international literature.
In addition to the refinement of reading and writing skills, and a continued examination of the role of the twenty-first century writer, this course also challenges students to study, write about, and engage in the analysis of poetry and drama from a scholarly perspective.
Group 2 Second Language
Subject: Mandarin Ab Initio
This two-year course focuses on oral communication skills. Using the Chinese Pinyin Romanization system, students will gain proficiency in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing Mandarin in practical situations. Exploration and experience of Chinese culture is also part of this course.
Group 3 Individuals and Societies
Subject: Philosophy Higher Level
This two-year course is for candidates who are interested in approaching issues important for humanity from a philosophical point of view. The main concern of this course is developing the students’ clear understanding of concepts, using critical and systematic thinking and the careful analysis of argument. The course has four main parts:
- The core theme, “What is a human being?”
- Optional themes, such as “the theories and problems of ethics”
- Study of prescribed philosophical texts
- Philosophical analysis of non-philosophical material
- Exploring philosophical activity: responding to unseen text
Group 4 Experimental Sciences
Subject: Biology Higher Level
This two-year laboratory-based course covers topics typical of first year university study in all health and science related fields including the rapidly expanding subjects of genetics, forensics, environmental sciences, and animal/plant physiology.
While ideal for students who plan to major in the sciences, agriculture, or education, this course also provides the well-rounded liberal arts student a foundation in theoretical and applied sciences that will support and enrich their studies in the social sciences and the arts.
This course covers a broad array of topics including general concepts in cellular structure, cellular metabolism, cellular communication, genetics, concepts in evolution, ecology, plant science, experimental design, and the function of organisms. In addition, this course emphasizes the relationships and applications between the various sciences.
Student investigations, including 60 hours of hands-on laboratory experience, require accurate observations, collection of data, data analysis, interpretation of data, and safe laboratory and field practices. Second year students must keep a lab portfolio and participate in an interdisciplinary activity known as the IB Group 4 Project, a collaborative experience that emphasizes the processes rather than the products of scientific investigation. As an extension to this course, students have the opportunity to engage in scientific field research through the Adventure Leadership Program for Schools (ALPS).
IB Biology HL prepares students for the IB Biology SL and HL exams in addition to providing a foundation for a successful university education.
Group 5 Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject: Mathematics Standard Level
This two-year course is for students who possess basic knowledge and skills of mathematical concepts and techniques and is preparation for university programs requiring a sound mathematical background. Topics will include calculus, linear algebra, probability and statistics, and differential equations.
On completion of this course students will be able:
- To read, interpret, and solve problems using mathematical terms.
- Organize, present information and data in tables, graphs, diagrams.
- Know and use mathematical notation and terminology.
- Formulate and communicate mathematical arguments.
- Select and use good mathematical strategies and techniques.
- Demonstrate reasonable results.
- Recognize patterns and structures.
- Make generalizations.
- Recognize and demonstrate an understanding of practical applications of mathematics.
- Use appropriate technological tools and devices.
- Demonstrate an understanding and use of mathematical modeling.
Group 6 The Arts
Subject: Film Higher Level
This two-year course examines the art of filmmaking from the perspective of the filmmaker as craftsman as well as from the perspective of the critical film viewer. An exploration of the technologies and processes of filmmaking, as well as instruction in the analysis and deconstruction of films and film scripts, is an essential component of this course.
Course films cover a range of genres including film noir, comedy, gangster, western, drama, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, action, and adventure. A thorough exploration of the history of film, both in terms of technical and thematic development, begins with an examination of early silent film and continues with a look at Hitchcock, an exploration of the independent film movement, a brief study of foreign film, and a lengthy examination of current trends in contemporary cinema. The critical study of film in this course will always be conducted with an eye toward the development of the students’ filmmaking skills.
As part of this course, students will write, produce, cast, direct, and shoot their own films, approaching this process from the perspective of D.W. Fenza who asserts that, as artists, we should always focus on the exploration of the relationship “between aesthetics and scholarship, between practice and theory, and between art and criticism.”
Group 6 The Arts
Subject: Theatre Higher Level
This two-year course enables students to experience and participate in a wide and varied range of theater activities and develop proficiency in more than one area of theatre technique. Students will also reflect on their own development in theatre through continual self-evaluation and recording. Within this course, theoretical and practical knowledge of theatrical traditions from more than one culture are studied and a range of diverse performances are evaluated critically.
While creating and presenting performances, students will develop an ability to interpret playtexts and other performance texts analytically and imaginatively. In this course students will ultimately demonstrate an understanding of the complex processes of performance, from initial conception to the impact the final result leaves on spectators.
IB Diploma Programme Core Courses
Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
The theory of knowledge (TOK) requirement is central to the educational philosophy of the Diploma Programme. It offers students and their teachers the opportunity to:
- Reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge
- Consider the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture, in the cultures of others and in the wider world.
In addition, it prompts students to:
- Be aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to become more acquainted with the complexity of knowledge
- Recognize the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world.
As a thoughtful and purposeful inquiry into different ways of knowing, and into different kinds of knowledge, TOK is composed almost entirely of questions. The most central of these is “How do we know?”
It is a stated aim of TOK that students should become aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases, regardless of whether, ultimately, these biases are retained, revised or rejected.
TOK also has an important role to play in providing coherence for the student as it transcends and links academic subject areas, thus demonstrating the ways in which they can apply their knowledge with greater awareness and credibility.
The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research, culminating in a 4,000-word paper. As a required component, it provides:
- Practical preparation for the kinds of undergraduate research required at tertiary level
- An opportunity for students to engage in an in-depth study of a topic of interest within a chosen subject.
Emphasis is placed on the research process:
- Formulating an appropriate research question
- Engaging in a personal exploration of the topic
- Communicating ideas
- Developing an argument
Participation in this process develops the capacity to:
- Synthesize, and
- Evaluate knowledge
Students are supported throughout the process with advice and guidance from a Westwood teacher.
Creativity, Action and Service (CAS)
The CAS requirement is a fundamental part of the programme and takes seriously the importance of life outside the world of scholarship, providing a refreshing counterbalance to academic studies.
- Creativity is interpreted broadly to include a wide range of arts activities as well as the creativity students demonstrate in designing and implementing service projects.
- 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 host of community and social service activities. Some examples include helping children with special needs, visiting hospitals and working with refugees or homeless people.
A system of self-evaluation encourages students to reflect on the benefits of CAS participation to themselves and to others, and to evaluate the understanding and insights acquired.
© IBO 2010
*Physical education in The Westwood School Diploma Programme has a three pronged focus: a conditioning program to ensure optimal health, an intramural sports program that will introduce students to a variety of competitive sports within the school, and an individual sports focus in which the school assists students in identifying and participating in a variety of individual sports offered through private businesses.