Facts about the International Baccalaureate: find out what's involved in studying the diploma programme and the career-related certificate.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an academic programme regarded as a good alternative to A levels, and appropriate if you are thinking about university. It's taught in 143 countries around the world and has two levels of study for students aged 16-19.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme

This is an academically challenging programme with final examinations that prepare students for university and working life. You choose one subject from each of five groups – including two languages, social sciences, experimental sciences, and mathematics. You also choose either an arts subject from a sixth group, or another subject from groups one to five.

The programme includes:

  • an extended essay based on your own research and in-depth study, focused on one of the subjects you are studying
  • theory of knowledge focusing on critical thinking and learning across your chosen subjects
  • creativity, action, service enhances students' personal and interpersonal development – combining a range of activities alongside academic study to engage in the arts and creative thinking, physical activity, and service in the community

The IB career-related certificate

This allows you to study between two and four academic courses, to learn skills through a vocational qualification (a more practical, ‘hands-on’ course), and gives you the chance to do a project in an area of interest.

  • The programme and career-related studies enable you to go on to higher education, an internship or apprenticeship, or a job in your chosen sector or field of interest.
  • You can take up a challenging programme of study that genuinely interests you, while gaining transferable and lifelong skills in applied knowledge, critical thinking, communication, and cross-cultural engagement.