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Sixth form student in a lesson

Theory of Knowledge

The theory of knowledge is part of the core of the International Baccalaureate, as it requires students to critically analyse and assess the information that they gain. The course focuses on knowledge claims that are made in their IB subjects, and seeks to question the accuracy, reliability and limitations of this knowledge. An example of a typical knowledge question could be: how might ethics limit the methods available to a natural scientist?

The aim of the course is for students to reflect on knowledge questions and to consider how knowledge is affected by an individual’s beliefs, perspectives and paradigms. It allows students to empathise with various religious, cultural and global perspectives and to compare these with their own. This allows them to understand how knowledge changes in different contexts. Students also consider how different ways of knowing, such as faith and emotion, can enhance or limit knowledge acquisition. Through questioning and challenging the knowledge they obtain, students are able to become active in their learning and not just passive receivers of information. The skills gained on the course equip students to become life-long thinkers and learners and to apply these skills in all aspects of their careers.

Course Offerings

Course Title Qualifications Obtainable Awarding Body
Key Stage 5 Courses
Theory of Knowledge IB IBO
Year 12
In the first year of the course students are introduced to the key principles and skills required to be successful in the Theory of Knowledge, ranging from analysis to evaluation. Students are taught to become aware of their own perspective as knowers, and how this influences the way they interpret facts and information. They will be expected to draw examples from their subjects on the IB, such a natural sciences and history, and to use different ways of knowing, such as faith, language, emotion and memory, as filters to analyse knowledge.

Lessons are focused on challenging knowledge on the IB through argument, debate, and analysis. Students are expected to be aware of current issues and to apply the techniques gained on the course in order to analyse the validity of the knowledge. Assessment in year 12 is through a 10 minute, internally assessed presentation on a knowledge question of the student’s choice; something they feel passionate about. It is marked out of 10. Examples of previous topics have ranged from: “knowledge in the field of mathematics is essential to becoming skilled in dance”, through to “Is graffiti art or vandalism?”

Year 13
The focus in year 13 is building on and honing the skills acquired in the previous year to gain and in more in depth understanding of the way that knowledge is acquired. Students should be able to approach year 13 in a holistic manner, and able to link different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing. They should also be aware of the biases and manipulation which can distort knowledge. The emphasis this year is perfecting essay-writing skills and linking and contrasting the knowledge gained from different subject areas. Students will be expected to explore their perspective as a knower and to evaluate the knowledge that they have gained. Assessment in year 13 is on a 1600 word essay, on a title from a choice of 6, prescribed by the IB. The essay is marked out of 20.