IB Diploma Programme

Preparing students for success in higher education and to be active participants in a global society.

View our subjects Learn about the IB Career-related Programme

What is an IB education?

The IB continuum of international education for 3 to 19 year olds is unique because of its academic and personal rigour. We challenge students to excel in their studies and in their personal growth. We aim to inspire a quest for learning throughout life that is marked by enthusiasm and empathy.

The IB aspires to help schools develop well-rounded students with character who respond to challenges with optimism and an open mind, are confident in their own identities, make ethical decisions, join with others in celebrating our common humanity and are prepared to apply what they learn in real world, complex and unpredictable situations.

The IB offers high-quality programmes of international education that share a powerful vision Informed by the values described in the learner profile, an IB education:

  • focuses on learners – the IB’s student-centred programmes promote healthy relationships, ethical responsibility and personal challenge
  • develops effective approaches to teaching and learning – IB programmes help students to develop the attitudes and skills they need for both academic and personal success
  • works within global contexts – IB programmes increase understanding of languages and cultures, and explore globally significant ideas and issues
  • explores significant content – IB programmes offer a curriculum that is broad and balanced, conceptual and connected.
  • IB learners strive to become inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective. These attributes represent a broad range of human capacities and responsibilities that go beyond intellectual development and academic success.

What is the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations that prepares students, aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. It has been designed to address the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of students. The programme has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.

The Diploma Programme prepares students for effective participation in a rapidly evolving and increasingly global society as they

  • develop physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically
  • acquire breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding, studying courses from six subject groups
  • develop the skills and a positive attitude towards learning that will prepare them for higher education
  • study at least two languages and increase understanding of cultures, including their own
  • make connections across traditional academic disciplines and explore the nature of knowledge through the programme’s unique theory of knowledge course
  • undertake in-depth research into an area of interest through the lens of one or more academic disciplines in the extended essay
  • enhance their personal and interpersonal development through creativity, action and service

The Diploma Programme Core


Students take written examinations at the end of the programme, which are marked by external IB examiners. Students also complete assessment tasks in the school, which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners.

The marks awarded for each course range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest). Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results on theory of knowledge and the extended essay. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance across the whole programme and to satisfactory participation in the creativity, action, service requirement. The highest total that a Diploma Programme student can be awarded is 45 points.

Assessment is criterion-related, which means student performance is measured against prespecified assessment criteria based on the aims and objectives of each subject curriculum, rather than the performance of other students taking the same examinations. The range of scores that students have attained remains statistically stable, and universities value the rigour and consistency of Diploma Programme assessment practice.

To find out more about the International Baccalaureate, please visit

International Baccalaureate

IB Diploma Programme Structure

Students take 3 subjects at Higher Level and 3 at Standard Level (please note: for their 6th subject, students can either take a group 6 subject or a second subject from either group 3 or 4).

IB DP students have to take a subject from each group in the table below (1-5).

Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature

English Literature

Group 2: Language Acquisition

Spanish B

German Ab Initio

French Ab Initio

Group 3: Individuals and Societies

Geography (Standard only)

Global Politics


Social and Cultural Anthropology

Group 4: Sciences


Chemistry (Higher only)

Computer Science

Design Technology

Physics (Higher only)

Sport, Exercise and Health

Group 5: Mathematics

Mathematics: Approaches and Analysis (Higher only)

Mathematics: Applications and Interpretations (Standard only)

Group 6: The Arts



Visual Arts

Understanding what the IBDP and IBCP mean for Higher Education

In order to obtain the IB Diploma, you must achieve at least 24 of a possible 45 points across six subjects (three at standard level and three at higher level). Each of these are marked out of seven points, with an additional three points available for each of the core elements of the IB (the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge).

In order to obtain the IB Careers Programme, you must have completed the specified career-related study and been awarded a grade 3 or higher in two of the IB Diploma subjects.

In addition to this, you must have achieved at least a grade D for the Reflective Project and completed the Personal and Professional Skills Course.

Universities in the UK use UCAS points to compare different qualifications so as to determine whether students meet the grade requirements to access a particular university course.

UCAS Points

Higher Level IBDP Courses

Standard Level IBDP Courses

  • H7 – 56
  • H6 – 48
  • H5 – 32
  • H4 – 24
  • H3 – 12
  • S7 – 28
  • S6 – 24
  • S5 – 16
  • S4 – 12
  • S3 – 6

Extended Essay

Theory of Knowledge
















Career Related Study

A Level

  • D*D* – 112
  • D*D – 104
  • DD – 96
  • DM – 80
  • MM – 64
  • MP – 48
  • PP – 32
  • A* – 56
  • A – 48
  • B – 40
  • C – 32
  • D – 24
  • E – 16

What are the entry requirements for an average university for IB students?
Entry requirements for university in the UK vary with each institution. However, most universities accept 112 UCAS points as the average entry criteria.

What are the entry requirements for Oxbridge?
The equivalent of 154 UCAS points (40-42 in the IBDP, with grade 6s and 7s in Higher Level subjects; or A*AA at A-level).

What are the entry requirements for Russell Group universities?
The equivalent of 136 UCAS points (40-42 in the IBDP, with grade 6s in Higher Level subjects; or A*AA at A-level).

Key Points

  1. For IBDP students, a grade 7 at HL is the highest grade and is equivalent to an A* at A-level.
  2. For IBCP students, a D*D* grade in the career-related study is equivalent to two grade 7’s at HL or two A* at A-level.
  3. The Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge components means a student studying the IBDP will be more likely to gain admission into University than a peer who achieves the equivalent grades at A-level. For example: according to the DfE, 45 points (the maximum mark available for the IBDP) is equivalent to 5 A* at A-level.
  4. Studies show both universities and employers rate students who have studied the IB higher on university-readiness and career-preparedness, respectively.