IB DP Requirements

OWIS students who are enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme not only have to fulfil the core requirements that are part of this programme, but they also have to complete six subjects from different subject groups.

The IB Diploma curriculum consists of three core components as well as the six subject groups, which include:

English - First language

Studies in language and literature

Foreign Language

Language acquisition

Individuals and societies



Co-ordinated Sciences



At OWIS, students are encouraged to work with their parents and teachers when selecting subject groups for the IBDP. The IBDP teachers at OWIS provide students with pre-course counselling in order to help them choose subjects that are based on their strengths, past assessments and interests.

At the heart of the IB DP curriculum are the three core elements of the programme: Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS), the Extended Essay (EE) and the Theory of Knowledge (TOK).

These components are what make the IB DP unique as they are designed to broaden the student’s educational experience while challenging them to utilise their knowledge and skills beyond the classroom. In order to receive the IB Diploma, students must fulfil the core requirements successfully, and these are completed in the following ways:

The Extended Essay (EE)

A self-directed, 4,000-word essay based on independent research. This essay gives students the opportunity to investigate a topic that interests them, either relating to one of their six DP subjects or encompassing an interdisciplinary approach. This part of the course teaches students to analyse, synthesise and evaluate their knowledge before writing it up, which gives them practical preparation for undergraduate study.

Theory of Knowledge Course (TOK)

In this course, students focus on critical thinking, self-discovery and personal reflection. The course requires students to reflect on the nature of knowledge and gain a better understanding of ‘how we know what we claim to know.’ It teaches our students to have a greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions while developing an appreciation for diversity and cultural perspectives. This course is assessed through a TOK exhibition and a 1,600-word essay.

Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) Programme

This programme requires students to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities and service projects. These experiences should involve creative projects, personal challenge and purposeful activities with significant outcomes and reflection on personal learning. Service projects must benefit the community while creating learning opportunities for students. The aim of CAS is to support experiential learning and self-discovery.

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IB Diploma Courses: Standard vs Higher Level

Students in the IB DP will take some Higher Level (HL) and some Standard Level (SL) courses. These courses may vary in scope, but they are all measured according to the same grade descriptors. In all courses, IB DP students are expected to demonstrate higher-level knowledge, understanding and skills.

There are some major differences between the standard and higher level subjects as follows:

Recommended teaching hours: 150 hours for SL vs 240 hours for HL

The breadth and depth of an assessment

Assessment type and criteria

At OWIS, our students take three courses at the Higher Level and three at the Standard Level. Students should bear the following in mind:

The same subject cannot be taken at both SL and HL.

The same language cannot be taken in both Group 1 and Group 2.

Non-regular diplomas are requested when a student needs to study a combination of subjects for university entrance exams that are different from those specified in the Diploma Programme recommendations.

Subject availability is not guaranteed; if an insufficient number of students opt for a subject, it may not be offered.

Regardless of whether courses are selected at the Higher Level or Standard Level, students in the IB DP at OWIS will have the opportunity to investigate issues that relate to the challenges of living in a diverse, globally connected world.

Assessments and Subject Offerings 

The IB assesses students either in May or November each year. At OWIS, our students take the IB May examination when they are in Grade 12. There are two types of assessments in the IB DP: 

External Assessments

These assessments are conducted in May and are marked by IB examiners.

Internal Assessments

These assessments are ongoing, and they are both supported and marked by IB subject teachers. IB examiners later moderate the assessments.

In order to prepare our OWIS students for their IB Year 2 examinations, and to ensure that they are able to achieve the highest grade level possible in each subject, we work with our students on a consistent basis and continually assess them through regular quizzes, unit tests and school-based examinations.

Subject Offerings

These are the six main subject groups offered by the IB Diploma Programme.

Group 1
Studies in Language and Literature (English A)

This subject group allows students to engage with a variety of literary forms and non-literary texts. It helps students develop an understanding of how language shapes identity and culture. Students have opportunities to develop their oral and written communication skills, analyse written texts, conduct independent research and develop a lifelong enjoyment of literature.

Group 2
Language Acquisition

This subject group allows students to choose language courses that introduce them to a new language or enhance their understanding of a previously studied language. Language B courses offered at OWIS are Chinese B and French B. These courses are intended for students who have some previous experience studying their chosen language and are designed to provide them with a high degree of proficiency in the same. Language ab initio courses (Mandarin, Spanish and French) are designed for students who have little or no previous experience with the chosen language.

Individuals and Societies

This subject group allows students to develop an in-depth understanding of social, economic and physical environments in which people live. Some courses included in this subject group include Business Management, Economics, Geography and History. Each subject is designed to cultivate students' ability to identify, critically analyse and evaluate concepts, theories and arguments related to people and the societies they inhabit.

Co-ordinated Sciences


Students in the IBDP must take at least once science course in order to earn their diploma. Subject options in this group include Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer science and Environmental systems and societies. Students learn the principles and theories associated with each subject and provide experimental evidence for the phenomena and concepts studied. Coursework includes a required project that cultivates students' appreciation of the environmental, ethical and social aspects of science.



This subject group is designed to provide students with an understanding of mathematics that can be applied in a university or professional setting. There are two course options in this group. They are Mathematics: Analysis and approaches, which promotes analytical thinking behind mathematical principles and Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation, an emphasis on mathematical applications from a technological and hands-on approach.

The Arts

This is an optional subject group in the IBDP. Students who opt-out of this subject group can select another course from Individuals and Societies or the Sciences group. The courses in the Arts subject group include Film, Theatre and Visual Arts, which allows students to engage in an in-depth study of the various artistic genres.  With an emphasis on building practical skills, students are encouraged to cultivate their creativity as they practise different art forms.  

Learn more about IB Diploma at OWIS

Theory of Knowledge

Theory of Knowledge

Extended Essay

Creativity, Activity & Service

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