Course Structure: SL and HL
The study of economics is essentially about dealing with scarcity, resource allocation and the methods and processes by which choices are made in the satisfaction of human wants. As a social science, economics uses scientific methodologies that include quantitative and qualitative elements.
The IB Diploma Programme Economics course emphasises the economic theories of microeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting individuals, firms and markets, and the economic theories of macroeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting countries, governments and societies. These economic theories are not to be studies in a vacuum – rather, they are to be applied to real-world issues. Prominent among these issues are fluctuations in economic activity, international trade, economic development and environmental sustainability.
The economic course encourages students to develop international perspectives, fosters a concern for global issues, and raises students’ awareness of their own responsibilities at a local, national and international level. The course also seeks to develop values and attitudes that will enable students to achieve a degree of personal commitment in trying to resolve these issues, appreciating our shared responsibility as citizens of an increasingly interdependent world.
IB Economics – Syllabus outline
Unit 1: Introduction to economics
1.1 What is economics?
1.2 How do economists approach the world?
Unit 2: Microeconomics
2.3 Competitive market equilibrium
2.4 Critique of the maximizing behaviour of consumers and producers
2.5 Elasticity of demand
2.6 Elasticity of supply
2.7 Role of government in microeconomics
2.8 Market failure—externalities and common pool or common access resources
2.9 Market failure—public goods
2.10 Market failure—asymmetric information
2.11 Market failure—market power
2.12 The market’s inability to achieve equity
Unit 3: Macroeconomics
3.1 Measuring economic activity and illustrating its variations
3.2 Variations in economic activity—aggregate demand and aggregate supply
3.3 Macroeconomic objectives
3.4 Economics of inequality and poverty
3.5 Demand management (demand side policies)—monetary policy
3.6 Demand management—fiscal policy
3.7 Supply-side policies
Unit 4: The global economy
4.1 Benefits of international trade
4.2 Types of trade protection
4.3 Arguments for and against trade control/protection
4.4 Economic integration
4.5 Exchange rates
4.6 Balance of payments
4.7 Sustainable development
4.8 Measuring development
4.9 Barriers to economic growth and/or economic development
4.10 Economic growth and/or economic development strategies
Distinction between SL and HL
SL and HL students of economics are presented with a common syllabus, with an HL extension in some topics. The syllabus for both SL and HL students requires the development of certain skills and techniques, attributes and knowledge – as described in the assessment objectives of the programme.
While the skills and activity of studying economics are common to both SL and HL students, the HL student is required to acquire a further body of knowledge – including the ability to analyse, synthesise and evaluate that knowledge to produce a policy response to contemporary economic issues. These skills are specifically assessed at HL in Paper 3.
Internal Assessment: Standard Level
A portfolio of three commentaries on news media extracts of 800 words each. (30%)
External Examinations: Standard Level
Paper 1: Extended response paper where students answer one question from a choice of three (1:15h, 30%)
Paper 2: Data response paper where students answer one question from a choice of two (1:45h, 40%)
Internal Assessment: Higher Level
A portfolio of three commentaries on news media extracts of 800 words each. (20%)
External Examinations: Higher Level
Paper 1: Extended response paper where students answer one question from a choice of three (1:15h, 20%)
Paper 2: Data response paper where students answer one question from a choice of two (1:45h, 30%)
Paper 3: A policy paper where students answer two compulsory questions (1:45h, 30%)
Course Structure: SL and HL
The Diploma Programme geography course integrates both physical and human geography, and ensures that students acquire elements of both scientific and socio-economic methodologies.
Geography takes advantage of its position to examine relevant concepts and ideas from a wide variety of disciplines. This helps students develop an appreciation of, and a respect for, alternative approaches, viewpoints and ideas.
The geography course embodies global and international awareness in several distinct ways. It examines key global issues, such as poverty, sustainability and climate change. It considers examples and detailed case studies at a variety of scales, from local to regional, national and international.
The aims of the geography syllabus at SL and HL are to enable students to:
- develop an understanding of the interrelationships between people, places, spaces and the environment
- develop a concern for human welfare and the quality of the environment, and an understanding of the need for planning and sustainable management
- appreciate the relevance of geography in analysing contemporary issues and challenges, and develop a global perspective of diversity and change.
Throughout the course, there is considerable flexibility in the choice of examples and case studies to ensure that Diploma Programme geography is a highly appropriate way to meet the needs of all students, regardless of their precise geographical location.
Distinction between SL and HL
Students at standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) in geography are presented with a syllabus that has a common core and optional themes. HL students also study the higher level extension. The syllabus requires the development of certain skills, attributes and knowledge.
Although the skills and activity of studying geography are common to both SL and HL students, the HL student is required to acquire a further body of knowledge, to demonstrate critical evaluation, and to synthesize the concepts in the higher level extension
Part one: Optional Geographic themes
Option 1: Freshwater
This optional theme encompasses the physical geography of freshwater in a systems framework, including core elements of hydrology (and the factors and processes that give rise to bankfull discharge and flooding) and fluvial geomorphology (including river process and landform study). It also covers the study of water on the land as a scarce resource requiring careful management, including freshwater bodies such as lakes and aquifers. This includes the ways in which humans respond to the challenges of managing the quantity and quality of freshwater, as well as the consequences (whether intended or unintended, positive or negative) of management within drainage basins. The importance of integrated planning is emphasized, in addition to the geopolitical consequences of growing pressures on internationally shared water resources. Through study of this optional theme, students will develop their understanding of processes, places, power and geographical possibilities. They will additionally gain understanding of other concepts including systems (the hydrological cycle), flood mitigation (attempts to tackle flooding) and water security.
Option 2: Leisure, tourism and sport
This optional theme focuses on ways in which people in a growing number of global contexts make use of their leisure time. As more people join the “global middle class”, they have disposable incomes allowing participation in tourism, including international travel and different types of sport. Sport can also be an important use of leisure time for people on low incomes who cannot afford to participate in tourism.
While tourism often has an urban focus, rural areas provide another important geographical setting for touristic activities, including walking, enjoying wilderness, doing extreme sports or visiting heritage sites. The uses made of places vary greatly, depending on physical geography, history and level of economic development.
Through study of this optional theme, students will develop their understanding of processes, places, power and geographical possibilities. They will additionally gain understanding of more specialized concepts including consumption (of landscapes), carrying capacity and threshold (in relation to environmental stress) and sustainability (in relation to long-term management of touristic resources).
Option 3: Food and health
This optional theme looks at the geography of food and health. Economic development is often accompanied by dietary change and an epidemiological transition in which diseases of poverty become less common and diseases of affluence more common; however, this transition does not apply equally to all sectors of society.
Neither food nor health is easy to “measure”, so alternative indicators of food and health are considered. There are many interactions between, and shared influences on, food and health. The role of gender, TNCs and national governments in both food and health provision is considered. This topic considers alternative ways of assessing agricultural sustainability alongside possibilities for improving food supplies and global health over the long term.
Through study of this optional theme, students will develop their understanding of processes, places, power and geographical possibilities. They will additionally gain understanding of more specialized concepts including some, such as diffusion and barriers, which are applicable to both food production
Part two: SL and HL core
Geographic perspectives—global change
The core theme provides an overview of the geographic foundation for the key global issues of our time. The purpose is to provide a broad factual and conceptual introduction to the geography of population dynamics, climate change and resource consumption issues.
The content is underpinned by the four key concepts of the course: places, power, processes and possibilities. Each unit examines issues at different scales from local to global, as well as the interaction between different places.
Attention should be given to the positive aspects of change (not only the negative ones), to the need to accept responsibility for seeking solutions to the demographic, economic and environmental issues—and, where appropriate, to the management strategies adopted to meet the challenges.
It is not intended for the units to be taught sequentially. The approach to teaching is not prescribed, and the content can be taught with flexibility according to the interests of the learners.
Part two: HL core extension
Geographic perspectives—global interactions
This study of global interactions has a broader perspective than a more conventional study of globalization that emphasizes a linear process involving the domination and the imposition of Western culture on the world. In the context of this syllabus, global interaction suggests a two-way and complex process whereby cultural traits and commodities may be adopted, adapted or resisted by societies. The process is neither inevitable nor universal.
The HL extension theme focuses on the global interactions, flows and exchanges arising from the disparities that exist between places. It presents important and contestable geographic issues of change in space and time for the HL student to question. This part of the syllabus is divided into three units relating to global interactions and global development.
Internal assessment is an integral part of the course and is a compulsory component for both SL and HL students. It enables students to demonstrate the application of their skills and knowledge, and to pursue their personal interests, without the time limitations and other constraints that are associated with examination papers. The internal assessment should, as far as possible, be woven into normal practice and classroom teaching, and not be a separate activity conducted after a course has been taught.
The internal assessment requirements at SL and at HL are the same. The time allowed is 20 hours, and the weightings are 25% at SL and 20% at HL. Students are required to undertake fieldwork collecting primary information and produce one written report that is based on a fieldwork question.
Geography and prior learning
The geography course requires no specific prior learning. No particular background in terms of specific subjects studied for national or international qualifications is expected or required.
Course Structure: SL and HL
History is particularly important in the modern world where different cultures and traditions are required to understand one another and where empathy is highly regarded by employers. The IB History course at GGS focuses predominantly on modern history and promotes international-mindedness through the study of history from more than one region of the world. History is a dynamic, contested, evidence-based discipline that involves an exciting engagement with the past through which students can increase their understanding of themselves and of contemporary society.
The course emphasizes the importance of encouraging students to think historically and critically as well as gaining factual knowledge. Students will develop their understanding of the six key historical concepts of cause and consequence, continuity and change, perspectives and significance which they have been introduced to in History lessons throughout Years 7 to 10. On completion of the programme at Higher or Standard level, students will be able to demonstrate detailed historical knowledge and an understanding of historical concepts and sources. They will be able to formulate clear and coherent arguments which integrate and evaluate evidence from historical sources and perspectives. Students will also understand how to critically evaluate the values and limitations of historical sources and through completion of a historical inquiry they will develop their research and referencing skills and will reflect on the methods of the historian.
Standard Level and Higher Level
Standard and Higher Level students will study the topic of Rights and Protest which considers the struggles for rights and freedoms in the mid-20th century through an examination of the civil rights movement in the USA (1954-1965) and the protests against apartheid in South Africa (1948-1964). Students will study the nature and characteristics of discrimination, examples of protests and actions, and the role and significance of key individuals or groups. Throughout this study, which is examined on Paper 1, students will become confident in understanding historical sources and will critically evaluate the values and limitations of the sources.
All students will study two world history topics which are assessed on Paper 2. Students will firstly investigate conditions that facilitated the rise of Authoritarian States in the 20th century, and the methods used by the parties and leaders to take, consolidate and maintain power. Students will study and compare a range of authoritarian leaders including Hitler and Castro. The second Paper 2 topic is the Cold War which dominated global affairs from the end of the Second World War to the early 1990s. The origins, development and end of the Cold War will be examined along with detailed case studies of two Cold War crises, two leaders and two countries.
The Internal Assessment requirements are identical for SL and at HL. Students will complete a research investigation on a historical topic of their choice. The students will develop and apply the skills of a historian by selecting and analysing a range of source material and considering diverse perspectives. The assessment requires students to search for, select, evaluate and use evidence to reach a relevant conclusion consistent with the evidence and arguments that have been put forward.
Higher Level students will undertake a regional study (assessed in Paper 3) in which they will further their understanding of 19th and 20th Century Europe. Students will build on the knowledge gained through their preparation for Papers 1 and 2 as there is overlap in the topics chosen.
Students will prepare for three topics:
- Imperial Russia, revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union (1855 – 1924). This topic focuses on the concepts of change and continuity by considering the collapse of tsarist autocracy, the revolutions of 1917, the Civil War and the rule of Lenin.
- Inter-war domestic developments in European states (1918-1939) which considers domestic developments in Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia between the two world wars.
- The Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia (1924-2000) which examines the consolidation of the Soviet state from 1924 and the domestic and foreign policies of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. Students will also consider the decline and collapse of the Soviet Union and the political and economic developments in post-Soviet Russia.
- External Assessment: Paper 1: A source-based paper on Rights and Protest (1 hour, 30%)
- Paper 2: An essay paper based on the two twentieth century world history topics of Authoritarian States and the Cold War. (1.5 hours, 45%)
- Internal Assessment: Historical investigation of up to 2200 words (25%)
- External Assessment: Paper 1: A source-based paper on Rights and Protest (1 hour, 20%)
- Paper 2: An essay paper based on the two twentieth century world history topics of Authoritarian States and the Cold War. (1.5 hours, 25%)
- Paper 3: An essay-based paper on the History of Europe (2.5 hours, 35%)
- Internal Assessment: Historical investigation of up to 2200 words (20%)
Course Structure: SL and HL
The IB Diploma Programme Psychology course is the systematic study of human behaviour and mental processes. Since the Psychology course examines the interaction of biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on behaviour, it is well placed in Group 3, individuals and societies. Students undertaking the course can expect to develop an understanding of how psychological knowledge is generated, developed and applied. This will allow them to have a greater understanding of themselves and appreciate the diversity of human behaviour.
The holistic approach reflected in the curriculum, which sees biological, cognitive and sociocultural analysis being taught in an integrated way ensures that students are able to develop an understanding of what all humans share, as well as the immense diversity of influences on human behaviour and mental processes. The ethical concerns raised by the methodology and application of psychological research are also key considerations of the IB Psychology course.
Psychological skills are integrated throughout the course
Year 1 of IB Psychology focuses on the ‘core’ of the course. This consists of a robust introduction to three different approaches to understanding behaviour: biological, cognitive and sociocultural approaches. The knowledge, concepts, theories and research that have developed the understanding in these fields will be critically evaluated to answer some of the questions being asked by psychologists today. Furthermore, the interaction of these approaches to studying psychology will form the basis of a holistic and integrated approach to understanding mental processes and behaviour as a complex, dynamic phenomenon, allowing students to appreciate the diversity as well as the commonality between their own behaviour and that of others.
In Year 1 of the course will also begin work on their Internal Assessment. This is a student led replication of a key study within the core which is assessed according to its adherence to the conventions of Psychology report writing.
In Year 2, students draw on their knowledge of research and approaches to answer essential questions about the nature and purpose of Human Relationships and on the aetiology and diagnosis of Mental Illnesses. Standard Level students are required to study one optional theme from: Abnormal Psychology or Psychology of Human Relationships
- Internal Assessment – A report of a simple experimental study conducted by the student (25%)
- External Examinations – Paper 1: three compulsory question responses and one extended response (2 hours, 50%)
- External Examinations – Paper 2: one extended response on either the Human Relationships unit or the Abnormality unit(1 hour, 25%)
In addition to the Standard Level work outlined above, Higher Level students undertake extension topics within each approach investigated in Paper 1. They investigate both Abnormal Psychology or Psychology of Human Relationships, instead of choosing between them.
Finally, Higher Level students undertake an additional examination which asks them to analyse, interpret and discuss a piece of previously unseen research.
- Internal Assessment – A report of a simple experimental study conducted by the student (20%)
- External Examinations – Paper 1: three compulsory question responses and one extended response (2 hours, 40%)
- External Examinations – Paper 2: two extended responses from choice of 15 topics (2 hour, 20%)
- External Examinations – Paper 3: three compulsory questions based on unseen text (1 hours, 20%)