Course Descriptions

Area 1: Language and Literature


Language and Literature (HL)


Prerequisite: B in English 10, C in Honors English 10


The language A: language and literature course aims to develop skills of textual analysis and the understanding that texts, both literary and non-literary, can relate to culturally determined reading practices. The course also encourages students to question the meaning generated by language and texts. An understanding of the ways in which formal elements are used to create meaning in a text is combined with an exploration of how that meaning is affected by reading practices that are culturally defined and by the circumstances of production and reception. The study of literature in translation from other cultures is especially important to IB DP students because it contributes to a global perspective. Texts are chosen from a variety of sources, genres and media. 


Note: A facilitated self-study option is available in Chinese Literature for our Mandarin-speaking students.  Those taking Area 1 courses in both English and Chinese are not required to take a course in Area 2: Language acquisition.

Area 2: Language Acquisition


Language B (SL): Spanish, French, German, & Mandarin (HL in special cases)


Prerequisite: C or better in 2nd year world language course


The IB DP language B course provides students with the opportunity to acquire or develop an additional language and to promote an understanding of other cultures through the study of language. Language B is designed for students who possess a degree of knowledge and experience in the target language. High performing standard level students should be able to follow university courses in other disciplines in the language B that is studied. HL Language B requires textual analysis of two literary works in the target language

Language ab initio: (SL–online option only for Spanish, French, and Mandarin)


The online option for Language ab initio is intended for full DP candidates who require greater scheduling flexibility in order to continue participation in Debate, Music, or PLTW programs.  Additional fee required.


Prerequisite: must not have prior experience with the language chosen to study ab initio.  These are courses that begin a language from the beginning. 


The IB DP language ab initio course is designed to provide students with the necessary skills and intercultural understanding to enable them to communicate successfully in an environment where the language studied is spoken. This process encourages the learner to go beyond the confines of the classroom, expanding an awareness of the world and fostering respect for cultural diversity. The language ab initio course develops students’ linguistic abilities through the development of receptive, productive and interactive skills by providing them opportunities to respond and interact appropriately in a defined range of everyday situations. Language ab initio is available at standard level only.

Area 3: Individuals and Societies


History Route 2: History of the Americas (HL)


Prerequisite: B or better in World History or C or better in AP European History


The IB Diploma Programme higher level history course aims to promote an understanding of history as a discipline, including the nature and diversity of sources, methods and interpretations. Students are encouraged to comprehend the present by reflecting critically on the past. They are further expected to understand historical developments at national, regional and international levels and learn about their own historical identity through the study of the historical experiences of different cultures.  ***Required for Full Diploma Candidates


Note: SL recommended for international students. HL recommended for all others.

Area 4: Sciences


Biology (SL/HL)


Prerequisite: B or better in Chemistry and Biology OR C or better in Honors Biology and Honors Chemistry


Biology is the study of life. The vast diversity of species makes biology both an endless source of fascination and a considerable challenge. Biologists attempt to understand the living world at all levels from the micro to the macro using many different approaches and techniques. Biology is still a young science and great progress is expected in the 21st century. This progress is important at a time of growing pressure on the human population and the environment. By studying biology in the DP students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, it is the emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that characterizes the sciences. Teachers provide students with opportunities to design investigations, collect data, develop manipulative skills, analyse results, collaborate with peers and evaluate and communicate their findings.

Sports, Exercise and Health Science (SL)


Prerequisite: C or better in Biology or Honors Biology AND C or better in Chemistry or Honors Chemistry


The IB DP course in sports, exercise and health science standard level (SL) involves the study of the science that underpins physical performance. The course incorporates the traditional disciplines of anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, psychology and nutrition. Students cover a range of topics and carry out practical (experimental) investigations in both laboratory and field settings. This provides an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and understanding necessary to apply scientific principles and critically analyse human performance. Where relevant, the course will address issues of international dimensions and ethics by considering sport, exercise and health relative to the individual in a global context.

Area 5: Mathematics


Mathematics (HL)


This course is roughly equivalent to AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC with additional topics in statistics, probability and discrete mathematics. 


Prerequisite: B or better in Pre-Calculus or A or better in Honors Algebra 2


The IB DP higher level mathematics course focuses on developing important mathematical concepts in a comprehensible, coherent and rigorous way, achieved by a carefully balanced approach. Students are encouraged to apply their mathematical knowledge to solve problems set in a variety of meaningful contexts. Development of each topic should feature justification and proof of results. Students should expect to develop insight into mathematical form and structure, and should be intellectually equipped to appreciate the links between concepts in different topic areas. They are also encouraged to develop the skills needed to continue their mathematical growth in other learning environments. The internally assessed exploration allows students to develop independence in mathematical learning. Students are encouraged to take a considered approach to various mathematical activities and to explore different mathematical ideas. The exploration also allows students to work without the time constraints of a written examination and to develop the skills they need for communicating mathematical ideas.

Mathematics (SL)


This course is roughly equivalent to courses in Pre-calculus and AP Calculus AB, with additional topics in statistics and probability.  


Prerequisite: B in Algebra 2 OR C in Honors Algebra 2


The IB DP mathematics standard level (SL) course focuses on introducing important mathematical concepts through the development of mathematical techniques. The intention is to introduce students to these concepts in a comprehensible and coherent way, rather than insisting on the mathematical rigour required for mathematics HL. Students should, wherever possible, apply the mathematical knowledge they have acquired to solve realistic problems set in an appropriate context. The internally assessed exploration offers students the opportunity for developing independence in their mathematical learning. Students are encouraged to take a considered approach to various mathematical activities and to explore different mathematical ideas. The exploration also allows students to work without the time constraints of a written examination and to develop the skills they need for communicating mathematical ideas.

Mathematical Studies (SL)


This course is roughly equivalent to a combination of Algebra 2 and Pre-calculus classes, with additional topics in probability and statistics.


Prerequisite: B or better in Geometry OR C or better in Honors Geometry


The IB DP mathematical studies standard level (SL) course focuses on important interconnected mathematical topics. The syllabus focuses on: placing more emphasis on student understanding of fundamental concepts than on symbolic manipulation and complex manipulative skills; giving greater emphasis to developing students’ mathematical reasoning rather than performing routine operations; solving mathematical problems embedded in a wide range of contexts; using the calculator effectively. There is an emphasis on applications of mathematics and statistical techniques. It is designed to offer students with varied mathematical backgrounds and abilities the opportunity to learn important concepts and techniques and to gain an understanding of a wide variety of mathematical topics, preparing them to solve problems in a variety of settings, develop more sophisticated mathematical reasoning and enhance their critical thinking.

Area 6: Arts


Visual Arts (SL/HL)


Prerequisite:  B or better in Introduction to Visual Arts or other beginning level design course.


The IB Diploma Programme visual arts course encourages students to challenge their own creative and cultural expectations and boundaries. It is a thought-provoking course in which students develop analytical skills in problem-solving and divergent thinking, while working towards technical proficiency and confidence as art-makers. In addition to exploring and comparing visual arts from different perspectives and in different contexts, students are expected to engage in, experiment with and critically reflect upon a wide range of contemporary practices and media. The course is designed for students who want to go on to further study of visual arts in higher education as well as for those who are seeking lifelong enrichment through visual arts. The role of visual arts teachers should be to actively and carefully organize learning experiences for the students, directing their study to enable them to reach their potential and satisfy the demands of the course. Students should be empowered to become autonomous, informed and skilled visual artists.

Area 3: Individuals and Societies  Additional Options


In lieu of a course in area six, The Arts, students may select from one of the following two options in Area 3: Individuals and Societies.  Each of these courses can be taken as a “certificate” class as well. 

Psychology (SL)


Prerequisite: B or better in World History OR C or better in AP European History


The IB Diploma Program standard level psychology course aims to develop an awareness of how research findings can be applied to better understand human behavior and how ethical practices are upheld in psychological inquiry. Students learn to understand the biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behavior and explore alternative explanations of behavior. They also understand and use diverse methods of psychological inquiry.

World Religions (SL)


Prerequisite: B or better in World History or C or better in AP European History


The IB DP world religions course is a systematic, analytical yet empathetic study of the variety of beliefs and practices encountered in nine main religions of the world. The course seeks to promote an awareness of religious issues in the contemporary world by requiring the study of a diverse range of religions. The religions are studied in such a way that students acquire a sense of what it is like to belong to a particular religion and how that influences the way in which the followers of that religion understand the world, act in it, and relate and respond to others.

The Core


Theory of Knowledge (TOK) 


***Required for all full-diploma candidates


Prerequisite: Full-diploma candidates OR students willing to take Government and Economics according to the schedule noted below.


This structure will help full DP candidates meet graduation requirements without taking Government and Economics in summer school. 

  • Year 1 First Semester: Government
  • Year 1 Second Semester: TOK
  • Year 2 First Semester: TOK
  • Year 2 Second Semester: Economics

The interdisciplinary theory of knowledge course is designed to develop a coherent approach to learning that transcends and unifies the academic areas and encourages appreciation of other cultural perspectives. The theory of knowledge course is in part intended to encourage students to reflect on the huge cultural shifts worldwide around the digital revolution and the information economy. The extent and impact of the changes vary greatly in different parts of the world, but everywhere their implications for knowledge are profound. Theory of knowledge encourages critical thinking about knowledge itself and aims to help young people make sense of what they encounter. Its core content focuses on questions such as the following:

  • What counts as knowledge?
  • How does it grow?
  • What are its limits?
  • Who owns knowledge?
  • What is the value of knowledge?
  • What are the implications of having, or not having, knowledge?

Theory of knowledge activities and discussions aim to help students discover and express their views on knowledge issues. The course encourages students to share ideas with others and to listen to and learn from what others think. In this process students’ thinking and their understanding of knowledge as a human construction are shaped, enriched and deepened. Connections may be made between knowledge encountered in different Diploma Program subjects, in creativity, action, service experience or in extended essay research; distinctions between different kinds of knowledge may be clarified.