IB Subjects and Core Requirements

Subject Choice

Core Requirements and Assessment

  • Theory of Knowledge (ToK)
  • Extended Essay (EE)
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)


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Subject Choice

The IB Diploma requires that students study six subjects concurrently and that a subject is chosen from each of the subject groups. Three subjects are studied in depth at Higher Level and three are taken at Standard Level to provide a broad balanced program.

Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature: Language A
This is the student’s first or best language. Pembroke offers two courses; English: Literature and English: Language and Literature. Literature introduces students to literary works from a variety of periods, genres and styles of the English-speaking world. Language and Literature includes the study of both literary and non-literary texts, such as media and electronic texts, and also includes text production. In both courses an appreciation of language and literature, oral and written expression are developed. Through the study of world literature in translation in both courses, students develop an appreciation of cultural differences.

Students who select Language B: English will need to negotiate a suitable Language A course. 

Group 2: Language Acquisition: Language B
This is the language students have already studied for 3 to 4 years at school. Pembroke offers French, German, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. For those students who have not continued with a foreign language in Middle School, Indonesian and Spanish ab initio courses (for beginners) are available. The emphasis is on the acquisition and use of language in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes while promoting an understanding of another culture through the study of its language.

English B is also offered to students for whom English is an additional Language. Eligibility for this course is determined in consultation with the Head of IB.

Group 3: Individuals and Societies
Pembroke currently offers Economics, Economics Anticipated, Geography and History. Students are encouraged to consider international as well as Australian issues within these subjects. Economics Anticipated is a fast-paced course, which allows students to sit the Year 12 examination at the end of Year 11 and thus have a reduced subject load in Year 12.

Environmental Systems and Societies SL, an interdisciplinary subject, is offered in Group 3 or in Group 4, or can satisfy the requirements of both groups simultaneously.

Group 4: Experimental Sciences
The sciences offered are Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Sports, Exercise and Health Science, all at Standard and Higher Level.

All IB students undertake a collaborative, interdisciplinary Science project in Year 11.

Environmental Systems and Societies SL, an interdisciplinary subject, is offered in Group 3 or in Group 4, or can satisfy the requirements of both groups simultaneously.

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Group 5: Mathematics
Three different mathematics courses are offered and cater to students with different interests and abilities in mathematics.

Fast-paced and content rich, Mathematics at Higher Level is for students who not only have a strong background and ability in mathematics but who enjoy mathematics, grasp concepts quickly and are able to consolidate concepts independently.

Mathematics at Standard Level, whilst still content rich does not go into as much depth as Mathematics at Higher Level. Completion of the SL course gives students many options at university, including double degree engineering and science courses.

Mathematical Studies is the least complex of the three courses and is ideal for those students who are certain that they do not need mathematics as a prerequisite for tertiary studies.

Students who have successfully completed the Year 10 Accelerated Mathematics course may choose to study Mathematics SL (Anticipated). This means that they will be able to continue their acceleration in mathematics and sit their final IB examinations at the end of Year 11 rather than Year 12.

Group 6: The Arts or Electives
Music, Theatre and Visual Arts are available in this group. Emphasis in these subjects is placed on practical work and the exploration of different cultural forms.

If students do not wish to pursue the study of The Arts, a further subject from Groups 2, 3 or 4 may be chosen.

In choosing HL subjects students should consider the prerequisites needed for University, subjects they enjoy and subjects where they have proven ability and demonstrable success in Year 10.

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Core Requirements
In addition to the academic curriculum, the IB Diploma requires students to engage in a course of Theory of Knowledge, complete an Extended Essay and develop their own program of Creativity, Activity, Service.

Theory of Knowledge (ToK)
The interdisciplinary ToK course is designed to transcend and unify the academic disciplines and encourage the appreciation of other cultural perspectives. The course allows students to reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and issues affecting knowledge acquisition and justification. While sharing ideas with others, students' thinking and understanding of knowledge as a human construction are shaped, enriched and deepened.

Extended Essay
The Extended Essay (EE) is a 4000-word formal research paper that offers IB students the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest and acquaints them with the independent research and writing skills expected at university. The EE is completed in the students' own time under the guidance of a teacher supervisor. The EE is due in July of Year 12.

Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay contribute up to 3 points to the final IB Diploma score out of 45.

Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)
The program of Creativity, Activity, Service is intended to balance the academic programs by providing experiences for the students to develop self confidence and a willingness to engage in a positive manner in the community at a local, national and international level. Students plan and initiate CAS experiences and engage in thoughtful reflection on these.

A variety of assessment methods is used to measure student achievement against the objectives for each course.

Examinations form the basis of the assessment for most courses, about 50-80% of final assessment. There are also a number of externally assessed pieces of work, for example, ToK essays, Extended Essay and Written Assignments in Group 1. Arts subjects, such as Theatre and Visual Art, have a larger practical component rather than an examination.

External assessment is complemented by internal assessment of course work, which is evaluated by subject teachers and moderated by IB examiners. Examples are practical work in the sciences, individual and interactive orals in the languages and explorations in mathematics.

The IB examinations are administered from the IB assessment centre in Cardiff, Wales and held at Pembroke in November. Final results are released in early January.

In order to be awarded the IB Diploma, a student must meet defined standards and conditions, including a minimum score of 24 points and the satisfactory completion of ToK, the Extended Essay and CAS. Assessment in the IB Diploma is criterion referenced and not scaled.

For University entry in Australia the IBDP score out of 45 is converted to the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).