Grammar School

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

The Core

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

‘Welcome to a journey into thinking which we hope will intrigue you. If you bring to it a mind that is alive to questions and open to exploring answers, this course has the potential to give you a way of approaching knowledge that will benefit your thinking for the rest of your life’ (Dombrowski et al. 2007).

What is “Theory of Knowledge”?

The TOK course is a central part of the IB Diploma and asks the key question “How do you know?” This course will encourage you to think critically about all the subjects that you are studying instead of just blindly accepting what you are taught. This critical thinking involves asking good questions, using language with care and precision, supporting ideas with evidence, arguing coherently, and making sound judgements. The TOK course will support the rest of your learning by helping you to reflect on the nature of the other subjects you are studying. All other subjects will encourage you to use the skills you are taught in the TOK course, even if this means that you are questioning what they are trying to teach you! The aim of the course is to encourage you to see knowledge as a whole, rather than just a set of unrelated and distinct subject areas.

Why is it a core part of the IB Diploma?

Theory of Knowledge gives students the opportunity of thinking about what it means to know something. You will be encouraged to think about your other subjects in new and challenging ways:

  • With regard to languages, we will ask whether translating is more an art or a science, and whether in fact there are some truths that lie beyond language.
  • Does it make more sense to talk about mathematics being discovered or invented?
  • Are the natural sciences the most important form of knowledge? Are they perhaps the only form of true knowledge?
  • How objective can we really be when studying history?
  • In Art, is beauty only in the eye of the beholder?

How is TOK Assessed?

TOK assessment is completed during the course; there is no final exam. To be awarded the IB Diploma you must complete and pass the TOK course.

External assessment:

A short essay chosen from a list of 10 titles given by the IBO each year 65%

Internal assessment

A presentation in class: applying what you have learned to an area of personal interest 35%


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