IB Diploma Programme/Prep » DP Course Descriptions

DP Course Descriptions

Below are some of the most common IB Course descriptions. Descriptions for all IB courses offered at Senn High School can be found in our course catalog.
*Information in the course descriptions below is from the International Baccalaureate Subject Guides.

Diploma Programme subjects are two year courses of study

IB World Literature

This course is designed to be rigorous college preparatory curriculum that will follow a challenging reading list including both classical and modern literary works from diverse cultures.  Among the aims of the course are:
  • introduce students to a range of texts from different periods, styles and genres
  • develop in students the ability to engage in close, detailed analysis of individual texts and make
  • relevant connections
  • develop the students’ powers of expression, both in oral and written communication
  • encourage students to recognize the importance of the contexts in which texts are written and
  • received
  • encourage, through the study of texts, an appreciation of the different perspectives of people from
  • other cultures, and how these perspectives construct meaning
  • promote in students an enjoyment of, and lifelong interest in, language and literature.
  • develop in students an understanding of the techniques involved in literary criticism

IB Spanish
Students will continue the systematic and progressive development of the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in the Spanish language at an accelerated level. In year 1 of the course, students will reinforce the skills learned in their previous Spanish course. In year 2 of the course, students will master more complex grammatical structures and verb tenses. Throughout the two-year course, which will be conducted entirely in Spanish, students will continue exploring and expanding their knowledge of the culture of the Spanish-speaking world. Among the aims of the course are:
  • develop students’ intercultural understanding
  • enable students to understand and use the language they have studied in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes
  • encourage, through the study of texts and through social interaction, an awareness and appreciation of the different perspectives of people from other cultures
  • develop students’ awareness of the role of language in relation to other areas of knowledge
  • develop students’ awareness of the relationship between the languages and cultures with which they  are familiar
  • provide students with a basis for further study, work and leisure through the use of an additional language

IB Spanish Ab Initio

This course is offered to students in the Diploma Programme who have not had previous Spanish language learning experience prior to entering the DP. As in the IB Spanish course, students in the Ab Initio option will develop skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Emphasis will be placed on mastering basic vocabulary and acquiring acceptable pronunciation. The language ab initio course, albeit at a basic level, seeks to develop intercultural understanding and foster a concern for global issues, as well as to raise students’ awareness of their own responsibility at a local level. The aims of the Ab Inito course are those of the IB Spanish course.

IB History

Year 1 of the IB History course follows topics in 20th century world history and will focus on the development of writing and analytic skills. The framework and emphasis of the class will raise important questions about our society, our ideas about the past, and inquiry into the importance of the past to understanding the world of today.  We will study events of the past 100 years from the rise of Hitler and the devastation of world war, to the hopes and dreams associated with revolution.

The goal of Year 2 of IB History is to achieve an awareness and understanding of the countries in the Western Hemisphere. Students will be exposed to common experiences in the Americas through comparative analysis of cultural, political, social, and economic issues. In an effort to encourage international awareness and understanding by promoting the achievement of people living in diverse places and different times we will study a variety of topics including but not limited to the following:
  • What is History/How we know what we know
  • The United States Civil War
  • Americas role in a changing world
  • The Mexican Revolution
  • The Latin World after the wars
Among the aims of the History course are:
  • promote an understanding of history as a discipline, including the nature and diversity of its sources, methods and interpretations
  • encourage an understanding of the present through critical reflection upon the past
  • encourage an understanding of the impact of historical developments at national, regional and international levels
  • develop an awareness of one’s own historical identity through the study of the historical experiences of different cultures.

IB Biology

This course will focus on biology and the chemical reactions that occur within living organisms. During the two years, students will be required to do at least 60 hours of laboratory work, some of which will have to be completed outside of the classroom hours. Students will be expected to:
  • demonstrate and apply an understanding of scientific facts and concepts, scientific terminology, methods, and techniques.
  • Construct and analyze hypotheses, research questions, predictions, and scientific explanations.
  • Demonstrate the personal skills of cooperation, perseverance, and responsibility
  • Demonstrate manipulative skills necessary to carry out scientific investigations with precision and safety.

IB Mathematical Studies
This course is for students who already possess knowledge of basic concepts, and who are equipped with the skills to apply simple mathematics techniques correctly.  In addition, this course offers the skills to explore math concepts in a broader sense, and its real-life applications. In Year 2 of the course, students are expected to demonstrate complex applications of math concepts. Among the topics covered are:  logic and probability, functions, statistics, introductory differential calculus, financial mathematics. The two-year course will develop skills in interpreting and using appropriate mathematical terms and notation, organizing data in a variety of forms, formulating mathematical arguments clearly, and more. 

Among the aims of the IB course are:
  • develop logical, critical and creative thinking
  • develop an understanding of the principles and nature of the mathematics
  • employ and refine their powers of abstraction and generalization
  • develop patience and persistence in problem solving
  • appreciate the consequences arising from technological developments
  • transfer skills to alternative situations and to future developments

IB Visual Arts

The Diploma Programme visual arts course enables students to engage in both practical exploration and artistic production, and in independent contextual, visual and critical investigation, with option A students focusing more on the former and option B students on the latter. The course is designed to enable students to study visual arts in higher education and also welcomes those students who seek life enrichment through visual arts.
Among the aims of the course are:
  • investigate past, present and emerging forms of visual arts and engage in producing, appreciating and evaluating these
  • develop an understanding of visual arts from a local, national and international perspective
  • build confidence in responding visually and creatively to personal and cultural experiences
  • develop skills in, and sensitivity to, the creation of works that reflect active and individual involvement
  • take responsibility for the direction of their learning through the acquisition of effective working practices.

Theory of Knowledge
The Theory of Knowledge course is a central element of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. The course is unique in that it is inquisitive in nature, rather than acquisitive. That is, it is not designed to impart new information so much as it is designed to explore the origins and limitations of what students have already learned – in other courses as well as through their personal life experiences. Because of the nature of the course, class discussion makes up an integral part of the curriculum. Due to the extensive amount of work required in the six subject area courses, homework will not be a major feature of this course. However, limited time outside of class will be required of students to prepare for class discussions and complete writing assignments.

Among the aims of the TOK course are:
  • develop a fascination with the richness of knowledge as a human endeavour, and an understanding of the empowerment that follows from reflecting upon it
  • develop an awareness of how knowledge is constructed, critically examined, evaluated and renewed by communities and individuals
  • encourage students to reflect on their experiences as learners, in everyday life and in the Diploma Programme, and to make connections between academic disciplines and between thoughts, feelings and actions
  •  encourage an interest in the diversity of ways of thinking
  • encourage consideration of the responsibilities originating from the relationship between knowledge, the community and the individual as citizen of the world.