DP Curriculum Corner: 18/10/2019

Welcome to our first Diploma Programme curriculum corner of the new academic year! During this curriculum corner, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our new families to the basics of the Diploma Programme and, as a reminder for our families who are more familiar with the programme. In each issue of our Diploma Programme corner moving forward, we will focus on several of these areas in more detail.

What is the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB Diploma is a very well established and highly regarded international qualification. It is based on the philosophy that students should always question the subjects they learn and apply critical thinking skills to real world situations. The IB Diploma offers a broad range of subjects for students to study so that students can personalise their own learning.

The IBDP Curriculum is composed of six subject groups, in which students are required to study one subject from each group, three at higher level and three at standard level over a two-year period. The six subject groups are listed below and you will often hear us refer to the subject group by their group number.

  • Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature – often mother tongue language
  • Group 2: Language Acquisition – often a foreign language
  • Group 3: Individuals & Societies (subjects include economics, geography, and history)
  • Group 4: Sciences (subjects include biology, chemistry, and physics)
  • Group 5: Mathematics
  • Group 6: The Arts (subjects include visual art) or a further choice from groups 2 – 4. This group often helps our students to tailor their subject choices to their preferred careers. For example, students who wish to go into Medicine will choose 2 Sciences.

In addition to the six subject groups, IB Diploma students study the IB core and this is the most exciting part of the programme. It is composed of three required components:

  • Theory of knowledge – students reflect on knowledge and question/challenge what we know. TOK also makes connections between all subjects.
  • The Extended Essay – an in depth self-directed 4000 word research paper in an area of their choice
  • Creativity, activity, service (CAS) – students participate in various purposeful and personally challenging activities related to these three areas, with significant outcomes. CAS experiences take place outside of the classroom and it is essential that students complete their CAS programme in order to pass the full IB Diploma. It also helps to reinforce that our students are about more than just exam results

Why is ISC offering this programme?

Although the program focuses on high academic standards, it is a holistic education that asks students to be open-minded and socially responsible and to be willing to take risks and to be critical thinkers. This fits well with our school vision and values and it a natural successor to our PYP and MYP programmes, giving our students a true IB continuum. Students will also develop essential time management skills.
As you can see, with this preparation our students have the best advantages for University and the world of work. Indeed, IB Diploma students are accepted at the best universities and colleges worldwide and Universities are actively seeking them out.
The depth and breadth of the Diploma enables students to offer that competitive edge, not only at higher education institutes but also within future careers.
In addition, as an international qualification, students can follow university or career options within a global market, and our students are encouraged to always take a global perspective. For example, students are required to take a foreign language and to learn about other cultures.

How does the IB Diploma curriculum differ from other curriculums?

The IB Diploma curriculum offers an international focus and emphasis on self-directed, independent learning through research and applying problem-solving skills to real world issues. The programme requires students to engage in a wide variety of activities and places equal weight on learning inside the classroom as well as outside the classroom.

How is the IB Diploma recognised in Italy?

The IB Diploma is recognized for the purposes of university entry in Italy according to Decreto del Presidentedella Repubblica 30ottobre 1986, n. 738, and associated updates. Students taking the IB diploma enjoy the same rights granted to holders of the Italian Maturità, such as university recognition, the right to postpone military service or apply for appointment to the Italian civil service.
Furthermore IB diplomas must be legalised at the Italian Consulate in Geneva, after which students can register directly at the university. Full support is offered by ISC for this.

How will ISC support our students through the DP?

  • Students’ timetables are personalised and reflect individual subject choices, with students receiving systematic and individual guidance when choosing their subjects
  • During the week, students will have individual study periods during school time. After all, the belief that independent research and ownership of one’s learning are core values in the IB Philosophy.
  • A support network of pastoral care structure that, through the Homeroom Tutor, subject staff and the DP Coordinator, allows progress to be constantly monitored and supported

When do High School students choose their subjects?

Students will make their preliminary choice of subject in the later part of the Autumn Term in Grade 11 (MYP5). More details about the IBDP were presented and explained in detail to parents and students at the Introduction to IB Diploma evening on 17 October. Each family will have an opportunity to discuss his or her subject choices individually with the IBDP coordinator following this meeting, and again in April.

When should you start thinking about IB DP?

We recommend that families begin thinking in detail about the Diploma Programme as our students begin High School (Grade 10-MYP4). There are conditions for entry into our Diploma Programme, such as successful completion of Service as Action through High School, maintaining good effort and grades in reports, and in demonstrating the necessary IB Learner Profile attributes.

What are colleges and universities saying about the IB Diploma Programme:

“Send us prepared students a la IB…it is the *best* high school prep curriculum an American school can offer.”
Marilee Jones, Dean of Admissions, M.I.T.

“One of the advantages of an IB curriculum is its structure and quality. It is a coordinated program, well established, well known and well respected. We know the quality of IB courses, and we think the IB curriculum is terrific.”
Christoph Guttentag, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Duke University

“When receiving an application from an IB Diploma candidate, our admissions officers can be assured of a 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.”
Kim Bartlett, Director of Admissions, McGill University, Canada

“Each year the University of Manchester receives many outstanding applications from IB students across the UK and beyond. These go on to be successful students at the University. Our institutional knowledge of the IB has been, and remains, excellent. We recognise the many strengths of this qualification: for example its breadth, commitment to global awareness, and research skills.”
Manchester University

“Diploma Programme students are well-rounded, multifaceted, multiskilled and have studied in depth. They have good time-management skills. They score higher than students in other national systems, and the IB score is worldwide the same measure.”
London School of Economics, UK

“Because King’s offers so many inter-disciplinary subjects, where the students are expected to be numerate and analytical and have good written prose, the skills they have developed on the IB mean that they progress very well”
Kings College, London

Which Universities recognise the IB Diploma Programme?

In a typical year, DP students apply to more than 3,300 higher education institutions each year, in close to 90 countries, with many of these institutions ranked among the top universities in the world.

Will I need to take additional qualifications to enter University?

This varies from country to country. In the majority of cases, taking the Diploma Programme in English means that students do not need to take an additional English language qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL. Additional examinations called SATs or ACTs are required for application to the USA, and we work with specialist tutoring companies to support students in preparing for SATs and ACTs. In Italy, most Universities will require an entrance exam to be sat, although some Universities like Bocconi will accept U.S SAT scores in place of this.

What do I need to achieve in the IB Diploma Programme to be accepted to University?

As you may remember from our last curriculum corner, our students select to study three subjects at a Standard Level and 3 subjects in more depth at a Higher Level. The IB Diploma Programme is scored out of a total of 45 points, with 24 points being the minimum score to pass the Diploma. The 45 points are achieved through each of the six subjects, awarding a maximum of 7 points each and 3 bonus points awarded for performance in the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge. Although the CAS programme does not receive points, successful completion of the CAS programme is essential to pass the full Diploma.

From a University perspective, institutions will often ask for a minimum entry requirement and this will vary from University to University and even between courses in a University. For example, Durham University in the UK will ask for a total point score of 36 points to study Business.

For some courses in certain countries, Universities will look for certain combinations of subjects and levels. For example, to study Medicine in the UK requires Biology and Chemistry to be taken at a Higher Level. Economics may require Maths at a Standard Level or a Higher Level, depending on the University with Universities such as the LSE in London looking for Higher Level. To study in Italian, Italian Universities are looking for Italian at a Higher Level.

As you can see, it is important that our students carefully select their choice of subjects to consider the requirements of certain countries and courses, and for those students who do not have clear ideas that we create an individual programme that keeps doors open.

How familiar are Universities with the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB works with the University community to ensure students get the recognition they have earned, as well as to examine and further develop our programmes to make sure we continue to offer the best preparation for university studies and life beyond. As a school, we make links with Universities and support them in questions they may have about the programme.


In our next Diploma Programme Curriculum Corner, we look forward to supporting families in their understanding of the IB Diploma Core: Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge and CAS.

In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance.
Kind regards,

Nicole Pearce