Study the International Baccalaureate in Malaysia

Marlborough College Malaysia achieved accreditation to become an IB World School in April 2014. This is the outcome of going through the rigorous and stringent IB accreditation process which began in May 2012. As a result, we were able to start delivering the IB Diploma Programme from September 2014 to our first Lower Sixth cohort.

The International Baccalaureate is an internationally recognised qualification of high academic standing. It was originally launched in 1968 and now involves some 80,000 students studying in 125 countries. The IB Diploma is recognised by all UK universities and is highly regarded internationally.

The IB is also highly attractive to employers, because of the variety of skills and attitudes which are fostered during the course of the programme. A range of exciting and challenging courses will be offered that will stretch the most able pupil, but which are well within the grasp of any student at Marlborough if they are prepared to commit to their studies.

The philosophy of the IB emphasises high academic standards. At the heart of the IB Diploma lies the Learner Profile. This sets out the key attributes which the programme seeks to develop. These mirror the College’s ambition to develop fully the potential of all its pupils, and to instil a love of learning for its own sake.

Academic excellence is coupled with an emphasis on personal development. The IB supports the philosophy of a rounded education and the development of the whole person, rather than a narrow focus on the academic alone. To achieve this, students are encouraged to reflect upon both their academic subjects and their personal development. Students are required to demonstrate initiative, independence and organisation.

Pupils study six subjects: three subjects are studied at higher level and three at Standard level. This allows pupils to gain a greater depth of knowledge in those subjects which particularly interest them, whilst still developing skills in their subsidiary subjects. In choosing their courses, students are required to maintain breadth. A subject must be chosen from Groups 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the hexagon. Group 6 offers the opportunity to study a creative subject (Art, Music or Theatre Arts) or to select a second subject from Groups 2, 3 or 4.

Key IB Staff


Why should I choose IB over A levels?

  • IB Students can demonstrate both depth of knowledge at Higher Level (HL) and additional breadth at Standard Level (SL).
  • They can show competency in a language and have continued to study Mathematics and English to the age of 18.
  • Through the Extended Essay, they can demonstrate independent research, while Theory of Knowledge (ToK) develops analytical and critical thinking skills.
  • Through the Group 4 Project, Creativity, Action, Service (CAS), ToK and English, IB students learn to work collaboratively, to debate and defend their ideas and make presentations in public.
  • They have a global outlook and an appreciation of other cultures, ideas and beliefs.
  • IB students learn to study independently and are better prepared for university (UCAS statistics show that IB students outperform A Level students on similar courses and are more likely to gain first class honours or upper second honours than A’ Level students).

What is Marlborough doing to give pupils a thorough understanding of the IB programme?

There has been a stream of information to both parents and pupils during the Michaelmas Term which started with a briefing to the whole school by the Head of Senior School, Graeme Salt. This has been reinforced to pupils in the Remove and Hundred through a series of classroom presentations and Q and A sessions with Marlborough IB Coordinator, Claire Bridgman.

Pupils have been encouraged to ask questions and to find out more about the IB programme 

What experience do Common Room have of teaching the IB?

All teachers employed at Marlborough have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in the classroom whether from an IB or a purely A level background. There is a huge similarity of content between A levels and the IB. If you have taught A levels effectively, you are well qualified to deliver the IB.

40% of our teachers have taught in IB schools. The remaining 60% will attend IB training courses which do not focus so much on the content of the subject but rather emphasise the ethos and principles, or “spirit” of the IB.

All IB teachers are required to be up to date with current practices and will take part in IB training initiatives every 3 years.

Do British Universities have a bias towards A levels over the IB?

The IB Diploma is welcomed as a rigorous entry qualification by universities in the UK and around the world, with admissions tutors publicly recognising its strength in preparing young men and women for university studies.

A recent report by King’s College London showed that what IB students are offering is something far superior to A levels and this is echoed by universities throughout the UK.

According to Professor Sir Richard Trainer, KBE, Principal and President Kings College London, in March 2013 “Kings College London has welcomed International Baccalaureate students from the UK and beyond for many a year. These students have brought a great sense of energy, determination and diversity to our campuses and have adapted well to university life and studies, no doubt in part due to the nature of the IB.”

In addition, universities are now far more familiar with a range of qualifications. At Bristol, only 62% of candidates applied with A level in 2012. IB was the next most common qualification at 5%, while 33% applied with other qualifications from around the world.

How would IB affect my chances of getting in to a UK University?

Offer rate (2012)

A levels: 68% IB: 72%

Acceptance Rate (2012)

A levels: 82% IB: 87%

(Figures from UCAS)

Is there going to be a minimum entry level for the IB? In some schools, after IGCSEs, certain children are told they are “not IB candidates” and asked to make alternative arrangements. Will this happen at MCM?

We have a good sense of where your children are already. When we grade the pupils’ reports in Years 9, 10 and 11, this is our prediction of the grade we feel your child will achieve at IGCSE. We have plotted these IGSCE scores against the IB and this gives us a very good indication of their future grades. If we were concerned that your child might not respond well to the challenges of the IB programme, we would discuss this with you well in advance.

What grades at IGCSE level would be considered to indicate potential IB success?

A’s and B’s to achieve safe passes and top scores. Pupils with C’s and D’s would have a chance of passing the Diploma too, if they make the right subject choices and commitment to Sixth Form studies.

If I have no GCSEs, what qualifications do I need in order to be accepted for the programme?

We will consider any qualifications a pupil brings with them. Candidates will also be assessed and interviewed by Marlborough to determine their readiness to study the IB Diploma.

What subjects will be on offer?

Group 1: English Literature

Group 2: English, French, Malay, Mandarin and Spanish

Group 3: Economics, Geography, History, Psychology and Business Studies

Group 4: Biology, Chemistry, Design Technology, Physics, Sports Science and Computer Science

Group 5: Maths

Group 6: Music, Theatre, Visual Arts

All the subjects will be offered at Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL), if there is demand.

Maths is offered at HL and SL and Studies.

Languages are offered at HL (advanced), SL (intermediate) and ab initio (beginner).

Classes with fewer than three pupils will not run.

Some children, may perform well in certain subjects, but not be as capable across the full spectrum. In these cases, are they better candidates for A levels, which will allow them to concentrate on those areas of strength and maximise their points?

Possibly, however, all pupils at Marlborough College Malaysia will follow the IB Programme and will receive every encouragement from teachers and tutors towards achieving their full potential. We feel it is important that our pupils build on their perceived weaknesses, as well as their strengths.

We believe that a pupil’s school experience should be about more than just passing exams and jumping through hoops. Through the IB, we want to inspire our pupils to take an interest in a breadth of subjects and teach them not just what to think but how to think. School should be about an individual’s personal development and offer a life-long holistic preparation which will enable pupils to make a real difference in whatever field they choose.

Will Marlborough employ a career’s advice professional who will help pupils to pick their subjects and assist in their preparation for university interviews?

Yes, and we will offer specialist support for pupils with their subject choices and in their application to universities all around the world.

When should the pupils start visiting universities?

Pupils could start visiting universities as early as parents wish. Certainly by the end of the Lower Sixth it is wise for pupils to have made visits to universities of interest.

How many points would be considered to be an average entry level to a Russell Group University?

32 – 38 points.

What resources do you have to support pupils as they prepare for the IB Diploma? Will there be Sixth Form Literature and relevant materials available in the Library/Learning Resource Centre?

Also, what on-line IB and non IB resources will Marlborough use or recommend?

Through this preparatory phase we are building an appropriate resource bank in our library.

There has been a huge growth in the materials available to support the IB Diploma. Text books are available online at Amazon and there are numerous online journals and PDF text books to support pupil learning.

Fieldwork related to coursework – what are these likely to be?

There will be local fieldwork in Biology and Geography that may involve offsite and overnight accommodation and other additional, reasonable costs.