To achieve an IB diploma, a student must take six subjects, one from each of the following groups: studies in language and literature, language acquisition (a second language), individuals and societies, mathematics, sciences and the arts. The arts course may be replaced by an elective from one of the previous groups, for example a second science course.

Three of these courses must be taken at the higher level (HL), comprising a minimum of 240 teacher-student contact hours. Three courses must be taken at the standard level (SL), comprising 150 teacher-student contact hours. (Nova Scotia curriculum courses require 110 teacher-student contact hours). Most subjects are taken over two years, but one standard level course may be completed in the Grade 11 year.

Students are also required to fulfill three additional requirements, which are the core of the IB program:

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course – An interdisciplinary philosophical course, which stimulates critical reflection on ways of acquiring knowledge. TOK is a key element in encouraging students to appreciate other cultural perspectives. Each student is required to produce a formal essay and an oral presentation on topics related to the course.

Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) – In CAS, students will participate in creative programs, athletics and community service. This will include extracurricular activities offered at Halifax West. Service projects will benefit the school, local and international communities. These activities help students develop self-confidence, initiative, responsibility, concern for others and the ability to work cooperatively with other people. They also provide an important balance to the academic requirements of the IB program.

Extended Essay (EE) – In the extended essay, each student has the opportunity to conduct independent research into a topic of special interest to him or her. This essay is a good introduction to the kind of independent research and writing skills expected by universities. On average, it will take the student 40 hours to prepare and write the extended essay of approximately 4,000 words.

Source IBO website: