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International Baccalaureate Diploma at Varndean College

Course description

The IBD is an exciting and increasingly popular alternative to A Levels.

You should consider it seriously if you:

  • are a well-organised student who enjoys a wide range of subjects and activities and who is keen not to narrow your education too early
  • want a course that will extend and challenge you personally and intellectually
  • want a course that will encourage you to think independently and to speak and write well in more than one language.
  • want to keep all your university and career options open at 16 plus
  • want an international qualification which is recognised all over the world for your future career

The IBD is taught worldwide and is internationally recognised and understood by universities and employers as an excellent preparation for further study or employment. It is administered by the International Baccalaureate Organisation, a body which is independent of any government and which has an international perspective.  Students wishing to study at university abroad should check country-specific requirements and the entry requirements of individual universities on the IBO website.

Course content

You choose one course from each of the following six subject areas listed below, three at Higher Level and three at Standard Level. The content of Standard Level courses is smaller than that of Higher Level courses.

Group 1:       Literature

Group 2:       French, German or Spanish

Group 3:       History (Modern), Global Politics or Psychology

Group 4:       Biology or Physics

Group 5:       Mathematics or Mathematical Studies

Group 6:       Chemistry, Philosophy, Visual Arts (Fine Art), German, Spanish, Film or                        Theatre

Everyone also follows the core programme which is made up of:

Extended Essay:    4,000 words on a topic of particular interest in any subject

Theory of Knowledge:    A study of the foundations of knowledge

Creativity, Action, Service:    A programme of extra-curricular activities

Entry requirements

The IBD requires grade 5 or better in English and Maths GCSE plus A* to B grades in four other different subjects. In addition, certain subjects at Higher Level have particular subject requirements


The maximum possible score is 45. In order to pass the Diploma you need 24 points. There are no external examinations at the end of Year 1. All the written exams take place in May of Year 2 and the results are published in July. In many subjects there is a substantial amount of coursework and assessed oral presentation. Theory of Knowledge is assessed by an externally-marked coursework essay.

Future opportunities

In the 2015 UCAS round, 63% of Varndean College IB UCAS applicants went to Russell Group universities, including 21% at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Further information

IBD students will have a fuller timetable than A Level students but less written assessment.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Varndean College directly.

Last updated date: 08 February 2017
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September


  • More information
    • At Varndean College our aim is to offer all our students the rich, broad and enjoyable experience they need to develop, flourish and achieve their goals in the adult world.

      Teaching and Learning is at the heart of the successful partnerships between students and staff here and we are proud of the skilled and imaginative approaches to teaching taken by our staff to make learning exciting.

      Equally important to the success of our students is the enjoyment they gain from feeling part of a community: a community that is created through the wealth of opportunities to engage with others offered by our extensive enrichment activities. From: Code-breaking to Sport; Music to Peer-mentoring; Drama to Politics Society, there really is something for everyone.