The IB Diploma Programme has proved to be a compelling pre-university course of study not only because it guarantees breadth of study, but it also provides opportunities for students to develop their independent research skills through an extended essay; to foster an understanding of the epistemological links across the different subject domains through its Theory of Knowledge course and to gain formal recognition of achievement in co-curricular activities through its Creativity, Activity, Service requirement.
The IB Curriculum structure is represented by a hexagon model with six academic subjects surrounding a core.
Diploma students study six subjects from six subject groups, concurrently over two years, as well as the core elements of the programme (Theory of Knowledge, the Extended Essay and Creativity, Activity, Service). The six subject groups represent the major domains of learning across all subject disciplines of a curriculum.
At least three, and not more than four of the six subjects selected are taken at higher level (HL), the others at standard level (SL). HL courses represent 240 teaching hours, and require a greater depth of study across a broader range of content in the subject. SL courses require 150 hours and provide breadth of study across the whole Diploma Programme.
Students are thus able to explore some subjects in depth and others more broadly, a deliberate compromise between the early specialization of some national systems and the breadth found in others. The science-oriented student is challenged to learn a foreign language and the natural linguist becomes familiar with laboratory procedures. Flexibility in choosing higher-level concentrations allows the students to pursue areas of personal interest and to meet special requirements for university entrance within a balanced overall programme. The subjects are continually reviewed and revised to meet contemporary needs.