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Diploma Core Elements

In addition to the 6 subjects, IB Diploma students are required to complete three core elements – Theory of Knowledge, the Extended Essay, and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)

Studying these components helps IB students to be reflective, internationally minded, well-rounded and at ease with critical thinking. These skills and traits are highly prized by top universities around the world, as well as in the world of work.


Exploring the foundations of knowledge and introducing students to university level critical thinking

Theory of Knowledge (ToK) is central to the Diploma Programme and is compulsory for all Diploma students.

It challenges students and their teachers to reflect critically on diverse areas of knowledge and ways of thinking, and to consider the role knowledge plays in our global society.

It encourages students to become more aware of themselves as thinkers and to consider the complexity of knowledge and recognise the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected world.

ToK classes are primarily discussion-based. Key topics explored include ‘Areas of Knowledge’ such as the natural sciences, the human sciences, mathematics, history and the arts.

There is also a consideration of the theme knowledge and the knower, as well as optional themes which include language, politics, technology, religion and indigenous societies.

Internal assessment of the course comprises class discussion and an exhibition where students choose three objects to address a prompt in 950 words. At the end of their second year, students write a 1600 word essay, choosing one of six titles as their external assessment.

“Teaching my subject at Southbank International School allows my students opportunities to interpret and apply their perspective to reading a variety of texts and develop a genuine interest in language and literature.”

– Bidita Sadiq, Theory of Knowledge Teacher

Extended Essay

A 4,000-word research essay

Each student must complete a 4,000-word research essay on a subject of special interest, which is usually linked to one of their Higher Level subjects. This should normally take around 40 hours of private study to complete. The significant benefit of the extended essay is that it helps to develop the independent research and writing skills that are needed for university.

Please note: students can achieve up to three points towards their Diploma by completing the Theory of Knowledge course and extended essay.


Developing strong citizenship

One of the core aims of the International Baccalaureate is to develop caring members of society who have strong academic, personal and social skills and want to make a positive difference to the lives of others.

As a result, every Diploma Programme student at Southbank takes part in organised Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) activities throughout their time with us.

We believe this participation provides a refreshing counterbalance to studies, helps students connect with life outside of school and develops skills which will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

In addition, many CAS activities can be matched to a student to help them achieve their university and career aspirations.



Interpreted broadly to include a range of arts activities, as well as the creativity students demonstrate in designing and implementing service projects.

Examples include working on the school play or yearbook; contributing to the school newspaper; designing posters for fundraising events; singing Christmas Carols to raise money for a charity.


Physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle. This includes participation in individual and team sports, as well as a student taking part in a school expedition or a local or international volunteering project.


This encompasses a host of community and social service activities, both within and outside of our school.

Examples include organising a tea dance to raise money for Age UK; taking elderly people Christmas shopping; offering computer coaching to local people; hosting after-school homework clubs.

“I have found in Southbank a safe and caring place where my children are nurtured not only academically but in the whole nature of who they are, where they come from and where they will go.”

– Aron & Liliana, parents of Southbank student

Southbank International School

Enquiries :020 3890 1969