IB Diploma

Core Requirements

At the heart of the diploma are the ‘Core’ requirements. To be awarded a Diploma, pupils must successfully undertake the three core components. The College uses Managebac to help pupils undertake these ‘Core’ requirements and allow beaks to monitor progress. Like academic subjects, pupils receive reports about their work in these three areas.

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
This is a critical thinking course. It allows pupils to ask big knowledge questions; understand what influences the knowledge they have and evaluate its merits and credibility. Two lessons per week are assigned to the course although elements of the TOK course are also integrated into the other subjects in the Diploma.
The TOK course is assessed with a presentation (completed in the Summer Term of the Lower 6th) and a 1600 word essay (completed in the Lent term of the U6).


Extended Essay (EE)
This is an independent research project of 4000 words. The assignment is designed to equate up to 40 hours of work.

At the College, it is completed over a 14 month period. Here, the process is launched in November of the Lower 6th. This allows the pupils to settle into the Diploma and 6th Form life before tackling this demanding but rewarding task.

Under the guidance of a subject-specific supervisor, pupils select a topic, develop a suitable question and then undertake research to answer it.

To help manage the process pupils should undertake different monthly tasks to meet a series of intermediate deadlines. The deadline for the final EE submission is December of the Upper 6th. Research skills, referencing and the requirements of academic presentation are all addressed through the Saturday assembly programme.

There are plenty of opportunities for pupils to meet and communicate informally with their supervisors throughout. There are also three mandatory formal meetings and reflections, which contribute to the overall mark for the assignment.

Two reading weeks (where only EE research is assigned as prep) and two ‘Blast Writing’ days are also built into the process to ensure pupils of all abilities successfully manage the task and produce work they can be proud of.

Creativity Activity Service (CAS)
Creativity activity and service (CAS) is the final component of the Diploma ‘Core’.
CAS requires pupils to engage in a range of enriching experiences alongside their academic studies.

Whilst CAS is not formally assessed, in order to pass this component and to reap the benefits of participation, pupils must plan, log and reflect on their CAS experiences. They must aim to achieve a balance between the 3 strands and they must address the IB’s learning outcomes

The IB defines the 3 CAS strands accordingly:

  • Creativity – arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking
  • Activity – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work
  • Service – an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the pupil. The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected

At MCM all College run activities and games are defined according to which of the strands they fit. This allows pupils to make an informed selection and achieve the all-important balance. Tutors discuss activity choices with their tutees and encourage reflection. Building a portfolio of diverse experiences is not just a Diploma requirement, it is integral to the College ethos. Prep School pupils are encouraged to undertake a range of activities. At Marlborough pupils who elect to study IB courses rather than undertake the whole Diploma are still required to continue with CAS and meet all the requirements.

In the Diploma, the value of CAS experiences is measured by achieving the learning outcomes. Over 18 months, 6th form pupils must undertake both new challenges and show an ongoing commitment to others. In that time they have to identify the skills they have acquired; areas of personal growth and strengths they have demonstrated. They must collaborate with others and reflect on the challenges and benefits of this opportunity. They must also show that they can take initiative, planning and undertaking their own activities.* In addition, they need to reflect on the moments where they have had to make choices on ethical grounds. Finally, evidence of engagement with global issues is also necessary in some of their CAS experiences.

The abundance of activities available at the College means pupils can fulfil many of the CAS requirements through Games, Friday afternoon activities, morning and evening clubs, weekend events, like tournaments and Outreach opportunities.

*However, pupils are required to maintain their commitment to CAS during the holidays and, in doing so, are able to show initiative by organising this themselves. At the College, pupils are required to provide evidence of these independent undertakings with photographs, videos and testimonies from someone facilitating the activity. The CAS Coordinator provides guidance about suitable activities and parents are encouraged to support their children in these endeavours.

At MCM 6th form pupils are organised onto CAS groups and assigned an advisor. The group meet with their supervisor every two weeks to ensure their receive support and guidance during the CAS programme. Each CAS group undertakes a large scale CAS project and an additional mini project. These projects provide pupils with the opportunity to show initiative, think creatively, work collaboratively, carry out meaningful service and address all of the learning outcomes.