Theory of Knowledge (ToK)

This course runs for all Grade 11 and 12 comprising three lessons over a two week period. The delivery style is through a mix of seminars (most of which are delivered through a series of interactive group activities) and lessons which are very activity and discussion based.

The purpose of the course is to enable students to step back from the immediate demands of their other subjects and ask some more fundamental and critical questions about knowledge. What are the different means by which we acquire knowledge? Are they all equally valid? Are there types of knowledge beyond the empirical and logical forms? To what extent do “values” constitute a form of knowledge? What are the methodologies that various disciplines use to address key questions and what limits their success at attaining full knowledge?

Theory of Knowledge is, above all, a course in rigorous, critical thinking.

The content of the Theory of Knowledge course includes the following:

  • The role of language in knowledge and how it influences on thought
  • The requirements of logical rigour for knowledge
  • System of knowledge as diverse as Mathematics, History, Ethics and Indigenous Knowledge Systems
  • How knowledge in the Natural Sciences, the Arts, the Religions and the Humanities differ
  • Paradigms – how they shape our perceptions, biases and limit our ideas.
  • History - can we really know the past?
  • Moral, political and aesthetic judgments – are they are attainable as Scientific theories?
  • Emotion – is it all just about how we feel? How does it interplay with our thinking?
  • Cultural and gender related knowledge issues

As part of the course students should:

  • Be aware that there are different ways of knowing things.
  • Appreciate that there are several different levels of certainty.
  • Understand that what we know depends upon our world model.
  • Be able to evaluate the reasons / proofs underlying our knowledge.
  • Analyse the value systems underpinning forms of knowledge.
  • Reflect on what they are learning in the whole IB Diploma program.

ToK Assessment

One coursework essay of 1200-1600 words worth up to 10 points and is externally marked and a 10 minute oral presentation in a TOK area of the student’s choice, worth 10 marks and internally assessed. The essay is weighted to contribute to 67% of the final mark, the remaining 33% is from the presentation. The overall mark determines the A-E grade awarded for the subject. Combined with the Extended Essay grade this determines the student’s IB Diploma bonus points score.

Completion of the TOK course is a compulsory part of the IB and BIS High School Diplomas.