In addition to the six subjects selected, the Diploma candidate must also engage in a unique course known as Theory of Knowledge. This course is the key element in the educational philosophy of the IB; its purpose is to stimulate critical reflection upon the knowledge and experiences acquired both inside and outside the classroom, to evaluate the bases of knowledge and experience, and to develop a personal mode of thought based on critical examination of evidence and argument. Unlike the other subjects, Theory of Knowledge is not assessed by external examination, but rather by the course teacher whose grades are subject to external moderation.
Theory of Knowledge is a for-credit-class taken during the 2nd semester of the junior year and 1st semester of the senior year, the goal of which is to unify the academic subjects and encourage appreciation of other cultural perspectives.
The topics covered include:
• The role of language and thought in knowledge
• The requirements of logical rigor for knowledge
• The systems of knowledge: Mathematics, Natural and Human sciences, History
• Value judgments as knowledge: Moral, Political, Aesthetic
• Knowledge and truth
The teacher internally assesses the ToK class work. One 1200-1600 word essay is submitted and externally moderated and checked by an external examiner. The result is a score from E (elementary) to A (excellent). This score, along with that for the extended essay, is used with a matrix to award up to 3 bonus points towards the diploma.