Course Work and Subject Choices

Students completing the full IB Diploma Programme are required to study six.  They must choose three subjects at Higher Level and three subjects at Standard Level. They must select one subject from groups 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.  They can then select either one subject from group six or another subject from groups 1 to 5.  In addition, students must complete a course in Theory of Knowledge, the Extended Essay and the Creativity Action Service programme which is satisfied through the co-curricular programme at UWC Atlantic College.

Students are not encouraged to take 7 subjects or 4 Highers due to the demands of the curriculum. This may be possible under certain conditions, however, such as an arts subject in Group 6 or due to language proficiency in Group 2.

Subject Choices at UWC Atlantic College

 Learning

*1The IB and the College provide the opportunity for students to study their mother tongue language by providing teacher supported self-taught options. This is encouraged as a means to remain connected to one’s home culture.

 For Language B we require a minimum uptake of 6 students to offer a taught lesson in particular language.

*2 Environmental Systems and Societies is a transdisciplinary course. This means that students meet the requirements for groups 3 and 4 in one course and have more choice for their fifth and sixth subject as a consequence.

Theory of Knowledge  

The Theory of Knowledge course is an integral and compulsory part of the IB Diploma. It is taught as a standard-level subject to all students throughout terms 2 and 3. The aim of the course is to make plain the synthetic nature of knowledge, to make students reflect on and assess the methods used to attain knowledge, and to help them recognize and draw upon their own experiences as knowers. The course revolves around two key questions: What do we claim to know? How valid are the methods used to justify these claims? The course explores the following to attain an understanding of what constitutes knowledge: 

  • the roles of perception, memory, reason and emotion in shaping our map of reality and defining knowledge;
  • the nature and validity of logic and mathematics;
  • the nature of scientific enquiry, experimentation and analysis in the natural and human sciences;
  • the nature of historical investigation and analysis;
  • the nature and basis of indigenous knowledge systems;
  • the nature of art and aesthetic judgments. 
  • The satisfactory completion of an assessed Theory of Knowledge oral presentation and essay is  a required component of the Diploma. 

Research Skills and the Extended Essay 

All students complete a 4000 word individual research essay. This can be in a single IB subject or a World Studies essay, analysing an issue of global importance through the lens of two IB subjects. Students complete this important part of the IB core during the second and third terms over the first and second year. They are supported by an individual supervisor and are introduced to research skills through a series of Extended Essay presentations, touching on topics such as the investigation of sources, academic honesty, citation and referencing and the assessment criteria. A draft of the essay is due in the first week of August, when students return for their second year. It is expected that time is spent during the summer break conducting research and writing a first draft for submission.

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