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International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)


International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) at Island Academy

An international education alternative for Antigua:

As Antigua’s sole international school we strive to appeal to a diverse international and expatriate community as well as to meet the needs of the local population. Our approach is reflected in the objective to produce not only young adults with a superior education, most of whom will go forth to study in the finest universities in the Caribbean area and the world at large, but also to foster values of tolerance, curiosity, and respect for others.

The school’s commitment to “unity in diversity” is especially appropriate to this locale, an island nation prized for its welcoming and accepting culture. There is a synergy in the school community in which those coming from abroad are made to feel at home, while those from Antigua are made to feel that the world is their home.

To best accomplish these goals, in 2009 Island Academy joined the select group of schools around the world offering the IBDP a two-year course of study leading to both the Island Academy High School Diploma and (if taken in full) the prestigious IBDP. Students may choose to do the full IB DP(as described below), or opt for the Island Academy High School Diploma with IB certificates.

Island Academy Diploma with the Full IBDP

The IBDP must be completed over a two-year period. For students to gain the coveted 24 points and above to achieve the full diploma they need to select three Higher Level (HL) courses and three Standard Level (SL) courses. Students must also complete the Extended Essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (ToK) requirements and Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) components.

Many students earning the IB Diploma are awarded advanced college credit at prestigious universities around the world. Many highly competitive colleges and universities recognize the IBDP for admissions and/or advanced standing.

Island Academy Diploma with IB Courses

The full IBDP may not be appropriate for all students. Students can follow the same curriculum as his/her classmates, with the reduced ‘core trio’ of ToK, Extended Essay, and CAS requirements, while opting for IB Certificates in specific courses of choice.

Taking this route will mean the student can still go to university, but they will not graduate with the full IBDP.

The IBDP Curriculum at Island Academy:


Six subject groups comprise the core of the IB curriculum over the course of two years. The IB Diploma candidate is required to select one subject from each of the six areas.

  • Group 1: Language A: English (HL)
  • Group 2: Language B: Spanish (SL, including ab initio, for students who have not studied Spanish before)
  • Group 3: Individuals and Societies: History (HL)
  •  Group 4: Sciences: Biology (HL and SL)
  •  Group 5: Mathematics: Mathematics (Studies) (SL)
  • Group 6: Chemistry (SL); Global Politics (HL and SL)
  • At least three, and not more than four, of the six subjects are taken at the Higher Level (HL-240 hours) and the others at a Standard Level (SL-150 hours). Each examined subject is graded on a scale of 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum). The award of the IBDP requires a minimum total of 24 points.

Requirements for the IB Diploma:

To be eligible for the award of the IB Diploma at the conclusion of the two-year program, all candidates must:

  • Successfully complete prescribed coursework and an examination from each of the above groups.
  • Submit an extended essay of 4,000 words in one of the subjects in the IB curriculum.
  • Complete the Theory of Knowledge (ToK) course and 150 Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) hours.

Island Academy course descriptions:

English HL: This course seeks to engage students in appreciating the art of literature and allows them to explore a variety of themes. Topics in world literature are covered as well as detailed study of individual works. Investigation is made into the art of the novel along with in-depth study of drama and poetry and a selection of non-fictional works. From the rite of passage in Classical readings to the ironic reversal in modern literature, a common concern emerges with structuring Truth out of a world of disorder.

Biology HL and SL: Biologists have accumulated huge amounts of information about living organisms and it would be easy to confuse students by teaching large numbers of seemingly unrelated facts. In IB Biology it is hoped that students will acquire a limited body of facts and at the same time develop a broad, general understanding of the principles of the subject. Although courses at the Standard Level and Higher Level have been written as a series of discrete statements for assessment purposes, four basic biological concepts run throughout: Structure and Function, Universality versus Diversity, Equilibrium within Systems, and Evolution.

Mathematics Studies: This course should be considered for students who do not wish to pursue a scientific route at university or in the world of work. Although Mathematics Studies allows the learner the opportunity to explore mathematics from a variety of aspects including algebraic, graphic and numerical, the course is more basic than Mathematics Standard Level (SL). The course highlights cross-curricular connections to other sciences as well as the application of mathematical skills to real-world situations in areas such as business, economics, IT, psychology, and the arts.

Mathematics SL: This course should be selected for students considering a scientific route. The learner is allowed the opportunity to explore mathematics from a variety of aspects including algebraic, graphic and numerical. The course highlights cross-curricular connections to other sciences as well as the application of mathematical skills to real-world situations in areas such as business, economics, IT, psychology, and the arts. Mathematics SL aims to deliver a curriculum that covers a variety of math topics while maintaining a deep understanding of concepts. The focus on pure mathematics and proofs is intended to provide students with opportunities to develop logical, critical and thinking skills.

History HL: A two-year in-depth comparative study of the 20th century, with a particular focus on the Americas during the second year. The course is divided into 20th century World History in Year 1 (IB 1) and History of the Americas in Year 2 (IB 2). Overall this course is designed to develop writing speaking, reading, and organizational skills at a college level, and to provide a thorough and detailed understanding of information and topics related to 20th century history. Specific skills as targeted such as how to properly research and reference material, and how to write factually and analytically. The goal is to provide a shared academic experience that emphasizes internationalism, critical and historical thinking, and exposure to multiple perspectives.

Spanish SL (including ab initio): Nations are becoming more interdependent, and the need for learning a foreign language more important. Learning a foreign language is therefore the Island Academy international educational imperative in order to prepare our youth both culturally and linguistically for membership in the global community. Four basic language skills are developed -listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students are also exposed to various cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. For those students who have no previous exposure to the Spanish language, a separate SL module is offered called ab initio, or “beginners”

Visual Arts HL and SL: The learner is provided with an opportunity to further an appreciation and understanding of the creative process through the study of the role played by various forms of art, craft and design both historically, socially and environmentally. Through the acquisition and honing of skills in a wide variety of media, techniques and processes such as drawing, painting, design, collage and printmaking, students will develop a strong visual language which will then enable the communication of a personal imaginative creative aesthetic. A strong base for critical analysis will be formed through research and hands-on projects, on both an individual basis and in group work. Students keep a research journal, develop a portfolio of work, and compose two research projects per year on a particular artist or art movement, culminating in a class presentation with relevant information and visual aids.

Chemistry (SL): Chemistry is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. It is called the central science, as chemical principles underpin both the physical environment in which we live and all biological systems. Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, chemistry is a prerequisite for many other courses in higher education, such as medicine, biological science and environmental science, and serves as useful preparation for employment. The IB Diploma Programme Chemistry course includes the essential principles of the subject but also, through selection of options, allows teachers some flexibility to tailor the course to meet the needs of their students. It is a two-year course with the culmination in an external exam

Anthropology (HL): The IB Social and Cultural Anthropology course at Island Academy seeks to make sense out of people’s lifestyles around the world by taking a holistic, comparative, and global approach. It involves investigating cultural practices through the lens of various perspectives and theorists within the discipline, and through each of their written ethnographic materials. The course will explore key aspects of society including politics, gender, identity, globalization, language, religion, kinship, and economics. This two-year course will introduce students to concepts of diverse cultural behavior as well as sound fieldwork practice and ethics used by anthropologists today. Students will gain an understanding of ethical dilemmas in the course and develop their debating skills at least once per term. In the course of their preparation for the fieldwork required for their internal assessment research, students will explore the objective and subjective aspects of participant observation and other fieldwork methods in detail. Overall, the course will provide students with an understanding of culture and diversity, as well as the uniqueness of perspective and practices learned through the human sciences. Students will be able to develop an awareness of relationships between local, regional and global processes and issues, as well as recognize preconceptions and assumptions of their own social and cultural environments

Theory of Knowledge (ToK): Required of all students desiring the full IB diploma, this half-credit course is designed to encourage each student to reflect on the nature of knowledge by critically examining different ways of knowing (perception, emotion, language and reason) and different areas of knowledge (the arts, ethics, history, mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences).

Extended Essay (3,000-4,000 words) is a requirement for students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the subjects they are studying.

CAS (creativity, action, service) requires that students actively learn from the experience of doing real tasks beyond the classroom. Students can combine all three components or do activities related to each one of them separately.

The Value of an IB Education:

Again, it should be stressed that all students in the final two years at Island Academy follow the IB curriculum, no matter which diploma track they choose. Here are some typical reflections on the value of an IB education:

“…if your child is considering the IB, you can rest assured it will be a broad, demanding course with exam results at least equal to A-levels and recognized by universities.” –Caitlin Davies, writing in The Independent,

“The attraction of the baccalaureate is that the diversity keeps students interested and makes them more rounded and capable individuals.”–From The Times (London)

“Universities such as the London School of Economics and Imperial College, London said IB diploma students had a distinct advantage” –From The Sunday Times (London)

“[IB] pupils tended to be far better prepared for higher study than the average school leaver.” -From The Sunday Times (Scotland, UK)

IB Links

Island Academy has been sending staff members to certification courses for most grade levels. Many of the principles, techniques and curriculum have been successfully woven into our students’ course work even at the lower levels. For further information regarding the IB, we invite you to click on the links below.

Links to the International Baccalaureate Organization website:


Describes all aspects of what grade 12 and 13 students (typically ages 16-19) and parents can expect in the Diploma Program (DP). Donít forget to scroll through all eight pages. Island Academy received its accreditation first at this level in early 2009.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Baccalaureate – Perhaps the most concise description of the IB program anywhere on the web.

http://www.ibo.org/diploma/curriculum/core/essay – Describes the Extended Essay in more detail.