To be awarded an IB Diploma, candidates must fulfil three core requirements, in addition to pupils passing their specific subject examinations. The core requirements are designed to facilitate cross-curricular understanding and include an extended essay of 4,000 words, attending the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course and between 3-4 hours a week involved in creativity, activity and service (CAS).

IB Diploma - the core

Three core elements

The IB Diploma Programme Core is made up of the three required components, all of which aim to broaden pupils’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills. The three core elements are:

  • Theory of knowledge (ToK), in which pupils reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
  • The extended essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
  • Creativity, action, service (CAS), in which pupils complete a project related to those three concepts.

Theory of Knowledge

Theory of knowledge (TOK) is mandatory for all pupils and plays a special role in the Diploma Programme (DP) and aims to make students aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases – whether these biases are retained, revised or rejected.. It is central to the educational philosophy of the DP.

TOK offers students and their teachers the opportunity to reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge. It also helps them consider the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture, in the cultures of others and in the wider world.

In addition, TOK prompts students to be aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to become more acquainted with the complexity of knowledge and to recognize the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world.

Extended Essay

The extended essay is a mandatory component of the IB Diploma and is an independent, self-directed piece of research, culminating in a 4,000-word paper.

The extended essay is an ideal preparation for undergraduate research in that it develops key techniques in how to analyse, synthesize and evaluate knowledge. It provides pupils with an opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest to them, which is also related to one of their six DP subjects.

Through their research process, pupils develop skills in: formulating an appropriate research question; engaging in a personal exploration of the topic; communicating their views and developing their argument.

Creativity, Action, Service

Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) is one of the three mandatory essential elements of the Diploma Programme. It enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development by learning through experience. Crucially, it also provides opportunities for self-determination and collaboration with others, fostering a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment from their work.

Studied throughout the Programme, CAS involves pupils in a range of activities alongside their academic studies. Although CAS is not formally assessed, pupils must reflect on their CAS experiences and provide evidence of achieving the eight learning outcomes for CAS.

At Haileybury, the three strands of CAS, which are often interwoven with particular activities as part of our extensive co-curricular programme, are as follows:

  1. Creativity – arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
  2. Action – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the DP.
  3. Service – an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the pupil. The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected.

In order to demonstrate these concepts at their final assessment , pupils are required to undertake a CAS Project which challenges students to show initiative, demonstrate perseverance and develop skills such as collaboration, problem-solving and decision-making.

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