IB Diploma Program (DP) » IB Curriculum

IB Curriculum

IB Diploma Programme students engage in a variety of subject areas to develop students who are well rounded and prepared to thrive in post-secondary education.


Subject areas are taught from a global perspective that help students to become critical thinkers who are aware of the greater world around them. Designed to educate the whole self, students’ education is focused in six subject areas, featuring three core elements that broaden students’ educational experience and challenges them to apply their knowledge and skills.

IB Diploma Programme

IB Diploma Programme students must choose one subject from each of five groups (1 to 5), ensuring breadth of knowledge and understanding in their best language, additional language(s), the social sciences, the experimental sciences and mathematics. Student may choose either an arts subject from group 6, or a second subject from groups 1 to 5.

The six subject groups are:

  • Studies in language and literature – English
  • Language acquisition – French OR Spanish Ab Initio
  • Individuals and societies – Psychology OR Economics
  • Sciences – Biology OR Chemistry
  • Mathematics – Functions, Data Management & Calculus
  • The arts or Elective – Visual Arts OR Business Management OR Physics OR Chemistry *if Chemistry was not already selected above.

*At least three and not more than four subjects are taken at higher level (240 teaching hours), while the other subjects are taken at standard level (150 teaching hours).

In addition to disciplinary and interdisciplinary study, the Diploma Programme features three core elements that broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills.

The three core elements are:

  • The Extended Essay (EE) asks students to engage in academic research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the DP subjects they are studying. The Extended Essay requirement allows students to delve deep into a topic of interest while developing their research skills. Often times, the completion of the Extended Essay leads students to further study this same topic at university.
  • Theory of Knowledge (ToK) is an exciting course unique to the IB Diploma. Through the various ways of knowing and areas of knowledge, ToK asks students to think critically about their world.  ToK asks students to consider what they really know and how they know it.  This course leads to deep, rich conversation as students make sense of their world and their responsibility to it.
  • Creativity - Activity - Service (CAS) involves students participating in a range of activities alongside their academic studies throughout the Diploma Programme. Creativity encourages students to engage in the arts and creative thinking. Activity seeks to develop a healthy lifestyle through physical activity. Service within the community provides students with an opportunity to give back to the community and network with others. The three strands of CAS enhance students’ personal and interpersonal development through experiential learning. CAS formally begins at the start of the Diploma Programme and continues regularly for 18 months under the direction of the CAS advisor.

Foundation Courses

Offered at Bishop Macdonell, the Foundation courses prepare grade 9 and 10 students to enter the IB Diploma Programme in grade 11. Participation in the Foundation courses is not mandatory for acceptance into the Diploma Programme, but will help to prepare students for success in the Diploma Programme.

The Foundation courses at Bishop Macdonell are taught by professionally trained IB teachers to help fully prepare students for the courses ahead.

Students interested in the Foundation courses in grade 9 students take Religion and Science with IB trained teachers.  In grade 10, students take both grade 10 and grade 11 Math, along with grade 10 English to prepare them for their studies in the IB Diploma Programme in grade 11. In the IB Diploma Programme, students must continue studying a second language, therefore, if students wish to continue studying French in the IB program, they must also take French in grade 10.

For additional information about the IB Diploma Programme, visit www.ibo.org

For all inquiries about Bishop Macdonell's IB Diploma Programme, please contact Bishop Macdonell's IB Coordinator amanda.belluz@wellingtoncdsb.ca