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International Baccalaureate

All Sixth Form students at Cobham Hall study the internationally recognised International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.  This two-year course provides excellent preparation for university and beyond, and is studied in an environment that embraces the IB ethos.

Universities both within the UK and globally accept the IB as an entrance qualification.  Offered as an alternative to the more traditional A Levels, recent research shows the IB provides the best preparation available for both university and employment.  This is due to the way the Diploma develops more rounded students; people who excel academically, but who have also developed the key skills required at university and in the workplace – research, critical thinking and evaluation, communication, and collaboration.  In addition, the Diploma aims to encourage personal attributes as identified by the programme’s Learner Profile.  You can find out more about the Learner Profile on the IB website.

To help achieve this aim, all IB Diploma students must study the IB Core, as well as six subjects.  This Core is comprised of three elements: an Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS).  These core elements are particularly valued by universities for the benefits they provide students: the ability to work independently, to research and write an essay, to think critically, and to develop empathy, self-awareness, and confidence amongst other vital attributes.

The Extended Essay requires students to write a 4000-word essay on a topic of their choosing.  The topic question is generated by the student based on personal interest in an area they would like to research and learn about in greater depth.  Students are required to formulate a question based on their chosen topic, and then carry out relevant research to draw their own conclusions.  Previous topics covered by Cobham Hall girls include: “Are we biologically programmed to be criminals?”, “To what extent does Stephen Schwartz use the placement of musical motifs in the principle vocal parts in ‘Wicked’ to bring out different emotions?”, “Does garlic (Allium Sativum) have an antibacterial effect on Escherichia coli?”, “Could the films “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Scream” be said to incite violence in their audiences?” and “To what extent were the Red Guards the driving force of Mao’s power during the first two years of Cultural Revolution? (1966-1968)”.

The Theory of Knowledge Course requires students to question the concept of knowledge, and the idea of ‘knowing’.  The course emphasises the inter-connected nature of learning, and encourages students to be inquisitive.

The CAS Programme requires 150 hours of self-chosen pursuits that are creative, active or provide a service.  At Cobham Hall, CAS is introduced throughout the School due to the positive impact it has on personal development.  You can find out more on the dedicated CAS page.

In addition to the Core, students study six subjects; a combination of Humanities, Languages (their own and another), Mathematics, Science and have the option to study a Creative subject, or a second from one of the other categories.  Three must be studied at Higher Level, and three at Standard Level.  There is flexibility within the Diploma to demonstrate a passion for particular areas of study, such as Law, Medicine or the Arts.  You can see example subject combinations to reflect these interests on the ‘Choosing your IB Subjects’ page.  This can be further supported by careful selection of CAS endeavours and Extended Essay topic.

The IB can be tailored to suit the particular strengths and passions of students who do not wish to study the full Diploma.  Girls can elect to study fewer than six subjects, instead specialising in certain areas of interest by studying individual IB Courses, while still retaining the IB core which gives them a distinct advantage when applying for universities and beginning careers.

The Diploma is awarded when students score 24 points, out of a maximum possible 45.  Points are awarded from 1 to 7 per subject, with an additional three points available for successful completion of the Core elements.

If you want to find out more or arrange a visit, please contact Mrs Julie Shelley or Mrs Hilary Standen, our Admissions Team, via, or by phone on +44 (0) 1474 823371.  You can also join us on Wednesday 19th October for our Sixth Form Taster.

The IB is administered by the International Baccalaureate Organisation in Geneva.  For more information visit