Groups 1 and Group 2: Languages

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Students taking the IB Diploma must study at least two languages. All students take a first language and in addition either another first language, a language B or a language ab initio. English and Chinese are offered as a first language. Chinese and Spanish are offered as language B and ab initio courses. All courses may be taken at Higher Level or Standard Level except for ab initio courses, which are only available at Standard Level. Selection of the appropriate level in each language will depend on the student’s previous linguistic background, academic record, and on the student’s intentions for use of the language in the future.


Students with a first language other than English or Chinese may take the language as a self-taught Literature course at Standard Level only. While no instruction in the target language will be provided at the college, internal supervision and assistance with aspects of the course will be provided.


First language courses are designed for students with fluency in the target language. The Literature course is exclusively literature-based while Language and Literature courses combine language and literature study. Language B courses are for students who are in the process of acquiring the target language. Ab initio courses are for students with limited or no prior experience of the language. Language B and ab initio courses focus on developing communicative competence.


Studying language and literature develops critical thought and analytical capacity. These are essential life skills and have wide currency in the job market. Students may choose a career specialising exclusively in language, such as writer, translator, interpreter, editor, journalist, analyst or educator. There are also many excellent academic career paths available in areas such as literacy research, linguistic analysis and literary theory. For many students, study of language complements specialisation in other areas. Some disciplines that notably lend themselves to this kind of career path include law, media studies, engineering, psychology, education, business, information technology, marketing and social work.

Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature

Literature (SL and HL)

The Literature course develops understanding of the techniques involved in literary criticism and promotes the ability to form and justify independent literary judgments. This will include an appreciation of structure, technique and style. Focussing exclusively on literary analysis, this course is aimed at students who enjoy literature and engaging with the issues raised by such texts. Students will develop the ability to structure a logical, sustained and persuasive argument using academically sophisticated language with precision and coherence, and they will engage in both written and oral literary analysis, based on familiar and unfamiliar texts. Texts will be drawn from a range of genres (novel, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, plays) and include works in translation, enabling students to gain an understanding and appreciation of other cultures, but also some of the global issues that we all face.


The course comprises internal and external assessments. In the Standard Level course, students study nine works, which can be, for instance, a set of poems or a selection of short stories, whereas in the Higher Level course, students study thirteen works. 


The Literature course is available in English at both Higher and Standard Levels, and as a self-taught language at Standard Level only.

Language and Literature (SL and HL)

The Language and Literature course develops skills of textual analysis and critical thinking. Literary and non-literary texts are analysed for their form and how meaning is affected by culturally defined reading practices. Relationships between power, identity and language form the basis of inquiry. Students explore the ways in which language is used to construct meaning in a range of contexts within written, oral and visual texts. Texts are chosen from a variety of sources, genres and media including works in translation. At Higher Level, students study six works and complete a Higher Level Essay, whereas at Standard Level, students study four works. In both courses, study of non-literary texts is a primary focus. The Language and Literature course fosters the ability to use various modes of writing appropriate to purpose and audience, organise a logical and sustained argument and use sophisticated language with coherence, precision and clarity. The course comprises internal and external assessments requiring students to read, write, present visually and express their understanding orally.


The Standard Level course is designed for students who wish to pursue a university education in any discipline, catering to a broad range of student abilities and interests.

The Higher Level course is best suited for students whose interests and strengths lie particularly in language based subjects. Students who are interested in pursuing further studies in areas such as Humanities or Social Sciences, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Law, English or foreign languages are recommended to consider taking Language and Literature as a Higher Level subject.


The Language and Literature course is available in both English and Chinese.


Group 2: Language Acquisition

Language B (SL and HL)

This course is designed for students with some previous learning of the language. It may be studied at either Standard Level or Higher Level. The course gives students the possibility of reaching a high degree of competence in an additional language while exploring the culture(s) in which that language is spoken. The course aims to develop the students’ linguistic competence and intercultural understanding.

At the end of a Language B course, students will be assessed on their ability to:

  1. communicate clearly and effectively in a range of situations, demonstrating linguistic competence and intercultural understanding

  2. use language appropriate to a range of interpersonal and/or cultural contexts

  3. understand and use language to express and respond to a range of ideas with accuracy and fluency

  4. organise ideas on a range of topics, in a clear, coherent and convincing manner

  5. understand, analyse and respond to a range of written and spoken texts

  6. understand and use works of literature written in the target language of study (Higher Level only)


Five prescribed themes are studied:

  • identities

  • experiences

  • human ingenuity

  • social organisation

  • sharing the planet


Assessment comprises external assessment (two written examination papers and one listening paper) and internal assessment (an individual oral).


Language B is offered in Chinese and Spanish.

Language Ab Initio
(SL only)

The Language Ab Initio course is designed for students with little or no prior experience of the language they wish to study. It is available at Standard Level only. The course is organised into five themes:

  • identities

  • experiences

  • human ingenuity

  • social organisation

  • sharing the planet


At the end of the Language Ab Initio course, students will be assessed on their ability to:

  1. demonstrate awareness and understanding of the intercultural elements related to the prescribed topics

  2. communicate clearly and effectively in a range of situations

  3. understand and use accurately the basic structures of the language

  4. understand and use an appropriate range of vocabulary

  5. use a register and format that are appropriate to the situation


Assessment comprises external assessment (two written examination papers and one listening paper) and internal assessment (an individual oral).


Language Ab Initio is offered in Chinese and Spanish.


Group 3: Individuals and Societies

Business and Management, Economics, Geography, History and Psychology are offered at both Higher and Standard Level.

Economics (SL and HL)

The IBDP Economics programme examines how individuals and societies address the basic economic problem of scarcity. The questions of what goods and services should be produced, as well as how they should be produced and distributed given limited resources, are at the heart of this course. The course is built around nine Economic Concepts: Scarcity, Choice, Change, Efficiency, Intervention, Equity, Economic Well-being, Sustainability and Interdependence. After studying the concepts, students learn about the theoretical models and their implementation in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Microeconomics looks at individual consumers and firms, whereas Macroeconomics looks at society and the economy as a whole. In the third section, students explore issues pertaining to the Global Economy. Topics for this unit are International Trade, Protectionism, Exchange Rates and Sustainable Economic Development. These topics help students appreciate the impact of global economic interactions on individuals and societies. 

All students (SL & HL) cover all three sections: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and the Global Economy. However, HL students cover extended material within each section.


All students (SL & HL) prepare an Internal Assessment (IA) portfolio containing three IA commentary pieces that apply economic concepts and models to extracts from news media. The external IB examination at the end of the two-year course consists of two written papers with calculations of key areas, with HL students writing an additional policy paper.


Students enrolling in IBDP Economics need not have taken related courses previously, but they would benefit from a review of introductory economic concepts such as scarcity, opportunity cost, production possibilities and the factors of production. Furthermore, a review of the nine economic concepts would greatly benefit the student.


The exposure to theoretical concepts and models gained in Economics will enable students to pursue challenging university courses and prepare them to conduct quantitative and qualitative research in business and academia. Students interested in undertaking this course will most likely be considering further studies or careers in Finance, Logistics, Politics, Law, Non-profit organisations, or International Business.

Geography (SL and HL)

The world is going to change in significant ways over the next 50 years, with most of the world’s issues - at a local & global scale - boiling down to Geography. The Geographers of the future will be needed to help understand and solve issues like climate change, food and energy security, the rapid growth of megacities, the over-consumption of resources and the impact of economic change on communities. 

As an interdisciplinary subject, Geography is uniquely positioned between the physical and social sciences to put the understanding of social and physical processes within the context of place. Geography takes advantage of this position to examine relevant concepts and ideas from a wide variety of disciplines, including Biology, Physics, Sociology, Economics and Politics. This position enables Geography students to recognise the great differences in cultures, political systems, economies, landscapes and environments across the world, and therefore explore the links between them.

Both Higher & Standard Level students study the core topics of Population Change, Climate Change and Consuming Resources. Higher Level students then study three additional units of Urban Environments, Geophysical Hazards and Geographies of Food and Health, and Standard Level students pick two of the three. Both Standard and Higher Level students complete an Internal Assessment project involving a one-day field trip within Hong Kong. Higher Level students also study a further core extension of three units related to Globalisation and Global Interactions.

Geography students learn and develop a number of transferable skills - such as problem-solving and critical thinking - that are seen as highly desirable for university courses and employers alike; even for those degrees and careers that appear more loosely related to the subject. Students who study Geography go on to a wide and varied number of careers, including resource & environmental management, town planning, travel & tourism, consultancy, architecture and business management to name a few. 


The study of Geography enriches lives by promoting curiosity about other people and places, and develops an appreciation of the patterns, environments, and peoples that make up this endlessly fascinating and varied planet on which we live.

History (SL and HL)

The DC History course is a 20th century world history course. We cover three core units; a) the move to global war, focusing on military expansion in Japan, Germany and Italy from 1931-41 b) authoritarian and single-party states focusing on Mao Zedong and Adolf Hitler c) The Cold War and superpower tensions since 1945.


In addition to the core study of 20th century world history, Higher Level students study three additional units; a) the inter-war years, looking at the rise of Hitler, Mussolini and the Spanish Civil War b) Diplomacy in Europe, exploring different peace settlements, appeasement and the impact of World War 2 c)The Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia, examining the rise and rule of Stalin, Post war developments, and the transformation and collapse of the Soviet-Union.


Students learn from a wide range of sources including many authentic works of history. The emphasis is on developing skills such as analysing and evaluating historical sources and arguments, and essay writing. In the second year of the course, students complete an internal assessment activity that is an in-depth analysis of one topic of personal interest, this is worth 20% (SL) /25% (HL) of the final grade. The remainder of formal assessment comes from the external examinations at the end of the course.


No prior study of History is needed. This course is valuable for students with an interest in History as well as students interested in further studies/careers in areas such as history, politics, law, and international business.

Psychology (SL and HL

Psychology is the systematic study of behaviour and mental processes. Psychology has its roots in both the natural and social sciences, leading to a variety of research designs and applications, and providing a unique approach to understanding modern society. IB Diploma psychology examines the interaction of biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behaviour, thereby adopting an integrative approach. Understanding how psychological knowledge is generated, developed and applied enables students to achieve a greater understanding of themselves and appreciate the diversity of human behaviour. This may help students to better understand the influences on, and motivations for, human behaviour. Students of psychology may also become better communicators and improve their empathy and interpersonal skills. The ethical concerns raised by the methodology and application of psychological research are key considerations in DP psychology. Learning about the scientific method and topics such as decision-making and problem-solving will hone critical thinking.


In addition to biological, cognitive, social and cultural perspectives on psychology, students will study sub-fields of psychology, for example abnormal, developmental, social or health psychology. Standard level students will study one of these options whereas Higher Level students will study two. Both standard and higher level students will learn to understand quantitative research methodology and will design and carry out one psychology experiment during the course. In addition, higher level students will learn to apply qualitative research methods, such as interviews, observations and case studies.

No prior study of psychology is expected. No particular background in terms of specific subjects studied for national or international qualifications is expected or required of students. The skills needed for the psychology course are developed during the course itself.


Group 4: Sciences

Through studying any of the Group 4 subjects, students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. Using the scientific method in its variety of forms, there is a great emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that distinguishes the Group 4 subjects from other disciplines.


Discovery College offers Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Design Technology and Sports, Exercise and Health Science both at Standard and Higher Level, as well as Food Science and Technology, and Environmental Systems and Societies, at Standard Level only. All courses run for two years and are divided into a comprehensive syllabus of theory and a practical programme. The students will also develop and apply information and communication technology skills within all subjects.


There are no prerequisites for any of the Group 4 subjects, however students who have not consistently achieved a Level 5 or higher in MYP Sciences, or have not regularly scored at least 6 out of 8 in assessments of Knowledge and Understanding (Criterion A), often find the Higher Level IB Diploma Sciences very difficult and find the demands of the course may result in lower grades than expected. Such students are normally better served by choosing a Standard Level Group 4 course.


Assessment for most Group 4 subjects consists of 80% from the final exams at the end of the two-year course and 20% from the criterion-related internal assessments (practical work) covered over the two years. For Design Technology, the split is 60% to 40%.


It is a requirement for successful completion of the IB Diploma that all students (except for Environmental Systems and Societies students) participate in the Group 4 Project. This is an interdisciplinary activity where students from the different Group 4 subjects work collaboratively to analyse a common scientific or technological topic or problem. This may involve a field trip or fieldwork. The emphasis is on the processes involved in scientific investigation rather than the products of such investigations. The project forms part of the internal assessment and takes about 10 hours.  Environmental Systems and Societies students undertake required fieldwork when other students are doing the Group 4 Project.


During the two years of the IB Diploma Biology course, students will acquire and learn a significant amount of facts and information, but at the same time, will experience and practise the real science behind those topics which will lead them to a good understanding of the main pillars of the subject: Structure and Function, Universality Versus Diversity, Equilibrium Within Systems, and Evolution.


A series of skills outside the laboratory and the confines of a school timetable will be included in the course. Many of the practicals can only be carried out in the field and on consecutive days. Different areas in Hong Kong provide a stimulating and varied environment, which is significantly different from that in the school. In addition, the experience of working as part of a team is invaluable.


Subject-specific Core topics covered in the Standard Level and Higher Level courses include Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity, Genetics and Human Physiology. Additional Higher Level material covers the Human Health and Physiology topic in greater depth as well as devoting considerably more time to Nucleic Acids, Metabolism, Cell Respiration, Photosynthesis and Genetics. The option topic is usually decided upon by the students, based on suggestions from the teacher.


Chemistry spans the scientific spectrum. At one end, the reactions and processes studied are those that biologists need to explain the mechanisms of life. At the other, the design of materials used by engineers to construct technologies links to physics. Environmentally, chemistry covers very topical and up to date subjects such as pollution, global warming and ozone depletion.


Core topics include the mole concept, atomic structure, periodicity, bonding, energetics, kinetics, redox reactions, acids and bases, and organic chemistry. Optional topics such as medicines and drugs, environmental chemistry, food and industrial chemistry give the chance to explore some real-world applications of chemistry.


Experimentation lies at the heart of every science.  Chemistry students spend much time in the laboratory learning practical skills, safety, data handling techniques and working effectively with other people. These processes and skills are necessary for a full understanding of chemistry concepts as well as the development of problem-solving skills.


The course provokes questions about the responsibility chemists have to society, as students explore the social, industrial, technological, environmental and economic implications that chemistry has for the global community. As more and more demands are made on our planet and its limited resources, chemists will be in a crucial position to ensure that technology can keep pace with our wants and needs. The study of chemistry places students in a position to better comprehend and play a part in facing the challenges ahead.


Physics is considered to be the root science as its laws apply to all of the experimental sciences. Physics seeks to understand the universe itself, from the micro-scale of the smallest particles to the macro-scale of the vast and expanding distances between galaxies. Physicists seek to acquire knowledge through observation of our natural world, creation of models to understand these observations, and the formulation of theories, which are then tested by experiment.


The IB Diploma Physics programme covers the core topics of Measurement and Uncertainties, Mechanics, Thermal Physics, Waves, Electricity and Magnetism, Circular Motion and Gravitation, Atomic, Nuclear and Particle Physics, and Energy Production. One specialty option, which allows for teacher and student choice, will also be covered. Popular options include Astrophysics, Relativity and Engineering Physics. Higher Level requires additional learning time to cover a deeper extension of the core topics, in addition to learning more advanced topics such as Quantum and Nuclear Physics, Fields and Electromagnetic Induction.


Physics students not only gain knowledge and understanding of Physics concepts, but also develop investigative practical skills, technological skills, and interpersonal skills. Students will regularly use Mathematics to communicate findings and the relationships between variables.


Perhaps the most relevant application of Physics is the development of technologies that have changed our world to accommodate our needs, which have had profound impacts on the daily lives of all human beings. Students explore the ethical issues surrounding these applications, and the positive and negative impacts these applications have had on our society, to understand the moral issues and responsibilities that physicists must consider.

Design Technology

Design Technology is human-centred. It aims to develop creative and empathetic people whose enhanced understanding of design, and the technological world, can facilitate our shared guardianship of the planet.


Design Technology achieves a high level of design literacy by enabling students to develop analysis, design development, synthesis, and evaluation skills, which they can apply in a practical context. At the heart of the subject the design cycle is used as a tool to inquire into and analyse problems, develop solutions and evaluate individual solutions.


Core topics include: Human Factors and Ergonomics, Resource Management and Sustainable Production, Modelling, Final Production, Innovation and Design, and Classic Design. Higher level adds: User-centred Design (UCD), Sustainability, Innovation and Markets, and Commercial Production.


The course culminates in the Design Project, where students demonstrate their technical and design understanding to address an identified need.


Design is multidisciplinary in nature and draws from many areas including the natural and social sciences, mathematics and arts.  The course is considered very useful for students wishing to study creative and design subjects. It may also provide preparation for engineering or technology related subjects at a tertiary level.

Sports, Exercise and Health Science

Scientific inquiry, conducted over many decades, has accumulated a vast amount of information across a range of sub-disciplines that contribute to our understanding of health and human performance in relation to sport and exercise. The Diploma Programme course in sports, exercise and health science involves the study of the science that underpins physical performance and provides the opportunity to apply these principles.


Furthermore, in a world where many millions of people are physically inactive and afflicted by chronic disease and ill health, the sport and exercise scientist should be equally proficient when prescribing exercise for the promotion of health and well-being.


The course incorporates the traditional disciplines of anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, psychology and nutrition, which are studied in the context of sport, exercise and health. Students will cover a range of core and option topics and carry out practical (experimental) investigations in both laboratory and field settings. This will provide 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 dimension and ethics by considering sport, exercise and health relative to the individual and in a global context.


The sports, exercise and health science course is offered at both Higher and Standard level.

Food Science and Technology (SL only)

The world faces challenges in terms of food production, nutritional well-being, food safety and quality. The Food Science and Technology course aims to develop creative and balanced students whose enhanced understanding of food and the technological world can facilitate our shared responsibility of caring for the planet. An understanding of food is increasingly crucial to individual and societal well-being.


The course combines aspects of Biology, Chemistry & Technology. During the course, students will develop transferable skills useful for life-long learning and future careers. 


Topics studied during the course include:


  • Nutrition

  • Materials, components and their applications

  • Food quality and safety

  • Food process engineering


In addition to final examinations, students complete an Internal Assessment, which has a duration of 10 hours and a weighting of 20%.


The course is useful preparation for students wishing to study Food Science, Food Technology, Nutrition, Hotel Management and Sports Sciences at tertiary level.


The Food Science and Technology course is offered at Standard level only.

Environmental Systems and Societies (SL only)

This is an interdisciplinary course that fulfills the requirements of both Group 3 (Individuals and Societies) and Group 4 (Experimental Sciences) in the IB Diploma Programme.  Designed to bridge the gap between Environmental Studies and the Sciences, it is a very topical course involving many contemporary and controversial issues such as global warming, pollution, conservation of resources and biodiversity in ecosystems.


These are studied in a manner that enables students to appreciate that human society is directly linked to the environment. It also promotes a critical awareness of a diversity of cultural perspectives and that appreciation of these is needed at both a local and global scale.


Although the course is not completely science based, many experiments are conducted using biological, chemical and physical techniques. The results are then used to analyse concepts being studied. Students are expected to design experiments, record and process data, evaluate results and draw conclusions. The personal skills of working cooperatively, safely and ethically are also addressed.  In addition to experimental work, students carry out computer modelling, role-play scenarios and fieldwork. Hong Kong is a wonderful place for doing this as it has such a great variety of different habitats.


Group 5: Mathematics

Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches

This course is designed for students who enjoy developing their mathematics to become fluent in the construction of mathematical arguments and develop strong skills in mathematical thinking. They will explore real and abstract applications, sometimes with technology, and will enjoy the thrill of mathematical problem solving and generalisation.


The internally assessed component, the Exploration, constitutes 20% of the final grade. It gives students an opportunity to develop and apply mathematics to an area that is of particular interest. The Exploration also provides students with opportunities to increase their understanding of mathematical concepts and processes, and develop a wider appreciation of mathematics.


In the SL course, the remaining 80% of the final grade is made up of two 90-minute examination papers, each worth 40% of the overall grade. The first paper will be non-calculator; the second will require the use of a graphical display calculator.


In the HL course, the remaining 80% of the final grade is made up of three examination papers.  These include two 120-minute examination papers, each worth 30% of the overall grade. The first paper will be non-calculator; the second will require the use of a graphical display calculator.  The third paper, lasting one hour, will test problem solving and sustained reasoning.

Mathematics: Applications and Interpretations

This course is designed for students who are interested in developing mathematics for describing our world, modelling and solving practical problems using the power of technology. The course is best suited for students who enjoy mathematics most when used in a practical context.


The internally assessed component, the Exploration, constitutes 20% of the final grade. It gives students an opportunity to develop and apply mathematics to an area that is of particular interest. The Exploration also provides students with opportunities to increase their understanding of mathematical concepts and processes, and develop a wider appreciation of mathematics.

In the SL course, the remaining 80% of the final grade is made up of two 90-minute examination papers, each worth 40% of the overall grade. Both papers will require the use of a graphical display calculator.


In the HL course, the remaining 80% of the final grade is made up of three examination papers.  These include two 120-minute examination papers, each worth 30% of the overall grade. Both papers will require the use of a graphical display calculator.  The third paper, lasting one hour, will test problem solving and sustained reasoning.

There are two Mathematics courses, each being offered at both higher and standard level. In each course, the SL course is a subset of the HL course. This means that HL students will complete the 150 hours of the SL course as part of the total 240 hours of the HL course.


Before selecting a course, students should research university requirements and consult their mathematics teacher.


Group 6: The Arts

At Discovery College, we offer the following Group 6 subjects: Theatre, Music, Visual Arts and Film.  Students can take one Group 6 subject or alternatively take a second subject from any of Groups 1, 3 or 4.  It is also possible to take two Group 6 subjects, when Environmental Systems and Societies is taken to cover Groups 3 and 4.

Theatre (SL and HL)

Theatre is a dynamic art form that encourages discovery through experimentation, the taking of risks and the presentation of ideas to others. It results in the development of life skills, the building of confidence, creativity, and working collaboratively.

The Theatre course allows for personal exploration and experimentation with conventional and unconventional performances, discovery of world theatre practices, design and production elements, and creation of original material. The course is a balance of individual and collaborative work, through theoretical and practical components.

Theatre and thinking creatively is an area which is highly sought after in the workforce. Leading global companies often incorporate creativity tests into their interview process to determine the best candidates. Studying Theatre at DP/CP level can give students a leading edge during this process, and help them to secure prestigious jobs in law, politics and the public sector, among others.

What does the course entail? 

All the work in Theatre is coursework, spread over two years of study. Students can explore performance, technical and production techniques, directing, designing lighting, sound and staging, as well as costume and production management.

The coursework components are as follows:

  • Collaborative project: Students at SL and HL collaboratively create and perform an original piece of theatre (lasting 7–10 minutes) created from a starting point of their choice. The piece is presented to an audience as a fully-realised production. 


  • Production proposal: Students at SL and HL choose a published play text they have not previously studied and formulate a vision for the design and theoretical staging of the entire play text for a contemporary audience. These ideas are presented in the form of a proposal. 

  • Research Presentation: Students at SL and HL plan, deliver and video record an individual presentation (15 minutes maximum) in which they provide evidence of their academic and practical exploration and learning of a world theatre tradition.

  • Solo theatre piece: Students at HL only research a theatre practitioner, identify aspects of theory, then create and present a solo theatre piece (4-7 minutes) that demonstrates the practical application of this theory to a theatre piece, for an audience.

Music (SL and HL)

Music is an essential part of the human experience and a unique and enjoyable mode of creativity, expression and communication. The new IB Diploma Music syllabus has been introduced starting August 2020 with some significant changes. The new DP Music syllabus is authentic, very practical and collaborative. Students will explore, create and perform music from a diverse range of musical cultures and styles by taking on the roles of researcher, performer and composer. This new course acknowledges the connections between exploring the music of others and creatively applying their discoveries through composition and performance practice. There is also a greater emphasis on the important role that music technology plays in contemporary music making. 


Students undertaking this course will develop collaborative skills, problem solving, research skills and critical thinking as well as having the opportunity to pursue an expressive art form they are passionate about. 


This course not only provides students with the confidence needed to pursue further study of Music at tertiary level or a career path in music, but also to develop many attributes highly sought after in today’s ever changing workforce and academic institutions.

Course Components

DP Music is a student-centred coursework subject where students present music in authentic ways. There is no exam in this course. Students will submit portfolio excerpts that include program notes, performances and compositions. Music technology is also an important inclusion in the new syllabus acknowledging the important role of this medium in contemporary music. The aims of this music course are:

  1. explore a range of musical contexts, practices, conventions and forms of expression

  2. acquire, develop and experiment with musical competencies through playing, improvising and composing. 

  3. evaluate and develop critical perspectives on their own music and the music of others. 


Contemporary Music Maker - HL only - 30%

This is a collaborative real-life contemporary music project. This is an exciting opportunity for HL students to investigate the potential opportunities, limitations and demands of being a musician in the 21st century. Students submit a continuous multimedia presentation (maximum of 15 minutes) documenting their real-life project that includes the final presentation.


Experimenting with Music - SL  30% and HL 20%

Experimenting is a dynamic process and fundamental to creative music-making. Students will connect listening and analytical studies to practical work. Students will be exposed to both new music and their own selection of musical stimuli to research, analyse and most importantly creatively experiment with the musical concepts and conventions learned as both a performer and a creator of music. This will be done through a range of activities including composing, arranging, improvisation and performance. Students will submit portfolio excerpts (max 1,500 words) and samples of their creating and performances (max 5 mins each).

Exploring Music in Context - SL 30% and HL 20%

Exploring music is one of the processes of studying and investigating music. Students will explore and investigate both familiar and unfamiliar music and extract and apply their discoveries to create and perform music. Students will submit written work (max 2,400 words) evidencing research and the practical implications of composing and performing music. This will be accompanied by one example of a creating exercise and one example of a performed adaptation as evidence of their practical understanding (max 5mins each). 


Presenting Music - SL 40% and HL 30% 

Presenting music is a process inherent to music-making and students will engage in public performances or the sharing of compositions regularly as part of the course. Students will submit a selection of their compositions or improvisations (max 6 mins) and performances (max 12 mins). This portfolio will include program notes detailing how they have applied their discoveries as music researchers to the process of presenting music (max 600 words).

Visual Arts (SL and HL)

Through the IB Diploma Visual Arts course, students are offered an opportunity to explore the power of creativity, communication and self-expression using a wide variety of approaches to the Visual Arts. The programme encourages an individual, independent, inquiring and integrated approach to the Visual Arts. 


Students are encouraged to challenge their own creative and cultural expectations and boundaries. It is a thought-provoking course in which students develop their own thinking skills, while working towards technical proficiency and confidence as art-makers. As well as developing and creating their own artworks, students are expected to explore and compare art from different perspectives and in different contexts. 


All the work in DP Visual Arts is coursework-based and there is no final exam. There are three components to the course:


  1. An online Process Portfolio with evidence of experimentation, exploration, manipulation of art-making materials and concepts (40%).

  2. An Exhibition of selected resolved pieces that demonstrate evidence of technical accomplishment, understanding of materials and ideas, and that use appropriate visual arts language (40%).

  3. A Comparative Study in which students analyse and compare works by different artists. This independent, critical and contextual investigation explores artworks, objects and artefacts from different cultural contexts (20%).

Film (SL and HL)

The Diploma Programme Film course aims to develop students’ skills so that they become adept in both interpreting films and making their own films. Through the study and analysis of films, the course explores film history, theory and cultural context. The course develops students’ critical thinking in order to appreciate a range of cultural perspectives in film. The course also provides the opportunity to explore a range of film-making roles, such as cinematographer, director, editor, screen-writer and sound designer.

All the work in DP Film is coursework-based and there is no final exam. The coursework components are as follows:


  1. Textual Analysis: Students complete a 1,750 word essay in which they analyse a five minute sequence from a prescribed film.

  2. Comparative Study: Students create a 10-minute multimedia presentation in which they compare clips from two films of their choice through the lens of a chosen genre, film movement or film theory.

  3. Film Portfolio: Students work in three different production roles to create short clips and short films that show the development of their skills in those roles.

  4. Collaborative Film (HL only): Students work in their chosen role as part of a team to create a 7-minute narrative film.


Theory of Knowledge (ToK)

The Theory of Knowledge course, which is a 100-hour two-year timetabled course and is mandatory for all IBDP students, aims to stimulate critical reflection on the nature of knowledge. By focusing on the key question “How do we know?”, this course encourages students to think critically both about the subjects that they are studying and the world around them.


Students compare areas of knowledge as diverse as mathematics and history, the natural and human sciences and the arts. While doing so, they explore the assumptions and value judgments that underlie the claims that people involved in these areas, and the students themselves, make. They are encouraged to explore ToK within the context of their own learning and lives and to consider the impact of cultural and contextual differences on both the production and acquisition of knowledge.


Each student is required - after an extensive period of preparation and drafting -  to submit one essay between 1,200 and 1,600 words, from a list of titles prescribed by the IB for each examination session. These include such challenging titles as: Given access to the same facts, how is it possible that there can be disagreement between experts in a discipline? Develop your answer with reference to two areas of knowledge. and “Without application in the world, the value of knowledge is greatly diminished.” Consider this claim with respect to two areas of knowledge. In addition to this, the students present an ‘exhibition’ based on one of the knowledge questions provided by the IBO and complete a commentary of it that includes a concise description of the objects selected for the exhibition and why they were selected. This is then externally moderated by IBO appointed examiners.


Up to three points can be awarded for this work in combination with the Extended Essay.


DP Courses students who do not wish to complete ToK requirements will participate in two semesters of ToK, but will not submit any assessments.

Extended Essay

The IB defines the Extended Essay as “an in-depth study of a limited topic within a subject.” The 4000-word essay provides students with the opportunity to conduct independent research at an introductory level. Skills required to produce a successful essay in any given subject are generally those a student uses in the relevant course. Students are introduced to the Extended Essay process in February of year one of the programme.


Students should choose an area they find most interesting. For example, a student who chooses History must be interested in working with primary sources. Those selecting a science topic are advised to undertake experimentally-based investigations rather than library-based surveys. In an essay on Language and Literature, students should be interested in the independent critical analysis of literary works. While the IB allows students to undertake the Extended Essay in any subject area, it is recommended that students confine their choices to subjects they are studying, usually one of their Higher Level subjects.


When students have chosen a subject area for their Extended Essay, they discuss the proposed topic with their supervisor. Students then submit an Extended Essay plan, including a specific research question for discussion. As an independent piece of research, it is critical that students are self-disciplined and adhere to all deadlines. Students must submit the first draft of the essay by the end of August of the second year of the programme. The complete essay is submitted to the supervisor and to the IB Diploma Coordinator by late November of the second year of the programme.

DP Courses students who do not wish to complete an Extended Essay will undertake an Extended Project.  Students will formulate a research question in their chosen subject and use appropriate methods to reach a conclusion. The main difference to the Extended Essay outlined above is that the Extended Project is about 2,000 words in length.

Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS)

CAS is a framework for experiential learning, designed to involve students in new and meaningful roles. The emphasis is on learning by doing real tasks that have real consequences, and then reflecting on these experiences over time. The purpose is for students to be involved in experiences that will make a significant difference to their lives and to the lives of others, as well as challenge students to participate in experiences that they would not normally do. 


All Diploma students at Discovery College must participate in CAS. While students may get involved in school-based experiences as a part of their programme, a large part of fulfilling CAS requirements will involve them undertaking experiences, on their own initiative or with community groups, outside of school. Students are responsible for conducting their own risk assessments for experiences not organised by the school.


CAS neatly reflects our school philosophy: it challenges students to Grow, building self-esteem, self-confidence, autonomy and self-reliance; it requires them to Discover about themselves, others, and communities on a local and global scale; and it encourages them to Dream to be an agent of change. When carried out well, CAS should also lead to the development of the attributes of the IB Learner Profile. 


IB Diploma students are required to be regularly involved in CAS, ideally weekly, over at least an 18-month period. The CAS stages provide a framework for students to follow in their researching, planning and then doing activities and projects, with on-going reflection an essential key to reaching the programme’s objectives.


Showing evidence in the seven CAS Learning Outcomes is an integral part of successfully completing the programme. Other requirements include being involved in at least one large-scale project, and at least one experience that involves addressing an issue of public importance. It is recommended that no more than ten substantial experiences are conducted over the two-year CAS programme. On average, students should aim to spend approximately two to three hours per week participating in CAS experiences, with a reasonable balance between the three areas of CAS - Creativity, Activity and Service.


This aspect of CAS covers a wide range of arts and other experiences outside the normal curriculum that include creative thinking in the design and carrying out of service projects. This can involve traditional arts experiences, but could also include experiences that involve creative thinking in their creation and implementation, such as organising an event or competition, developing proposals, and designing lessons.


This aspect of CAS can include participation in sport or other recreational activities that involve physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Students should be encouraged towards group and team experiences and undertaking new roles, but an individual commitment is acceptable where the general requirements of CAS are met: goals are set and the student reflects on progress.


Service projects and experiences are often the most transformative element of the CAS Programme for the individual student; they have the potential to nurture and mould the global citizen. 


Service involves interaction, such as the building of links with individuals or groups in the community. The community may be the school, the local district, or it may exist on national and international levels. 


As CAS aims to extend the student, a student’s CAS programme should include experiences that sees them working beyond the school community. Collaborating with, as opposed to working for, members of a community provides the most positive Service experiences. To best address the differences in privilege that exist between the students who give service and those members of a community who are being served, a relationship of respect and mutuality should be established and promoted between these two groups. The best results for community development take place when a working relationship is created, where all parties are involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of service activities.


Photography, Tournament Organisation, Event Management, Website Development, Choir, Speech and Debate, Drama Production, Journalism, Model United Nations, Music, Band, Learning an Instrument, Community Development, Web-page Design.


Aerobics, Badminton, Basketball, Swimming, Kickboxing, Triathlon, Hiking, Rock Climbing, Personal Training Programmes, Trekking, Tennis, Yoga.


Teaching Computer Literacy, Developing a Waste Management Programme, Student Council, Peer Tutoring (to junior students), Establishing and Coaching a Sports Team, Working with Disadvantaged Youth, Event Management, Leading Arts and Crafts at an Elderly Home, Organising a Film Competition.