The CORE Components

There are core foundation subjects underpinning the IB DP.  These add depth and breadth to the learning program and make the final years preparation for lifelong learning.

  1. Theory of Knowledge (TOK): Encourages students to question the nature of knowledge, exploring its origins, validity, and practical applications across disciplines.

  2. Extended Essay (EE): Students engage in independent research, writing an extended essay on a topic of personal interest, cultivating their research and writing skills.  The EE can be written on any of the six subject groups – so it is not limited to just an ‘English’ essay.

  3. Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS): Promotes experiential learning through participation in creative pursuits, physical activities, and community service, fostering a sense of social responsibility.


TOK explores questions about knowledge and the process of knowing. TOK emphasises comparisons and connections between areas of knowledge and encourages students to become more aware of their own perspectives and the perspectives of others. In TOK, students reflect on the knowledge, beliefs and opinions that they have built up from their years of academic studies and their lives outside the classroom.

The course is intended to be challenging and thought-provoking – as well as empowering – for students.

This course will enable students:

  • to encourage students to reflect on the central question, “How do we know that?” and to recognise the value of asking that question
  • to expose students to ambiguity, uncertainty and questions with multiple plausible answers
  • to equip students to effectively navigate and make sense of the world, and help prepare them to encounter novel and complex situations
  • to encourage students to be more aware of their own perspectives and to reflect critically on their own beliefs and assumptions
  • to engage students with multiple perspectives, foster open-mindedness and develop intercultural understanding
  • to encourage students to make connections between academic disciplines by exploring underlying concepts and by identifying similarities and differences in the methods of inquiry used in different areas of knowledge
  • to prompt students to consider the importance of values, responsibilities and ethical concerns relating to the production, acquisition, application and communication of knowledge.

TOK is based on the development of specific skills:

  • Identifying knowledge claims (what is thought to be true)
  • Identifying knowledge questions (the questions that arise from these claims)
  • Finding links between knowledge theories and the questions that arise from issues being explored
  • Providing examples that support and counter observed knowledge questions and claims
  • Applying analytical skills (including critical thinking, reflective line of inquiry, accepting ambiguity, open ended questioning, connectedness, relevance, problem solving, collaborating, synthesis, and deconstruction).



  • The TOK essay engages students in a more formal and sustained piece of writing in response to a title focused on the areas of knowledge.
  • The essay is an external assessment component; it is marked by IB examiners.
  • The essay must be a maximum of 1,600 words and must be on one of the six prescribed titles issued by the IB for each examination session.


  • The TOK Exhibition assesses the ability of the student to show how TOK manifests in the world around us.
  • The exhibition is an internal assessment component; it is marked by the teacher and is externally moderated by the IB.
  • For this task, students are required to create an exhibition of three objects that connect to a prompt provided to the student.
  • Students must also submit an accompanying written commentary on each object of 950 words total.


This compulsory independent research project will enable students to:

  • Pursue independent research on a focused question that relates to an area of interest.
  • Develop research and communication skills.
  • Develop the skills of creative and critical thinking.
  • Engage in a systematic process of research appropriate to the subject.
  • Experience the excitement of intellectual discovery.
  • Complete a planning and progress form.

The Extended Essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects – normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB Diploma. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their choice, under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the chosen subject.

Students begin the research process during the first year and submit in the second year of IB study.


  • The 4000 word essay is graded on a scale of A – E
  • The essay is marked according to criteria set out in the IB Guidelines
  • The essay is externally assessed and, in combination with the grade for Theory of Knowledge, contributes up to three points to the total score for the IB Diploma. (Refer Matrix p.15)
Viva Voce

This oral assessment is a 10 minute interview with the Supervisor after final submission to clarify any issues, confirm ownership and reflect on what has been learned. It is an aid to the Supervisor’s Report.

Please Note…

Extended Essay supervisors are permitted to give a maximum of 5 hours individual assistance to each student. A grade of E on the Extended Essay means a failure of the IB Diploma.

It is therefore imperative that students closely follow the timelines and guidelines in the Extended Essay handbook published by the Extended Essay coordinator and respond promptly to advice from supervisors.


Course Focus and Outcomes

CAS is at the heart of the Diploma Programme and complements a challenging academic program in
an holistic way, providing opportunities for self-determination, collaboration, accomplishment and enjoyment. CAS enables students to grow as unique individuals through experiential learning, and to understand they are members of local and global communities with responsibilities towards each other and the environment. At Living Academy we are passionate about the vital role creative thinking plays in society through expressing ideas, developing empathy, giving a voice to the voiceless, advocating for change, and defining culture and identity. By connecting and aligning Service with our creative identity, we discover a sense of purpose and value extending far beyond our time at Living Academy.

The Three Strands of CAS are:
  • Creativity – exploring and extending ideas leading to an original or interpretive product or performance
  • Activity – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle
  • Service – collaborative and reciprocal engagement with the community in response to an authentic need
Learning Outcomes

To complete their CAS program, students are required to achieve the seven CAS learning outcomes comprising:

  • Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth
  • Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process
  • Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience
  • Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences
  • Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively
  • Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
  • Recognise and consider the ethics of choices and actions

Being reflective is one attribute of the IB learner profile:

“We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.”

Reflection leads to improved problem solving, higher cognitive processes and greater depth of understanding in addition to exploring how CAS experiences may influence future possibilities. Purposeful, authentic reflection is about quality rather than quantity.  Students should include reflections in their CAS portfolio that give evidence to achieving each of the seven CAS learning outcomes.

Reflections in CAS may be expressed through a paragraph, a letter, a poem, a comic strip, a dramatic performance, a song, a drawing, a dance, a video journal or other forms of expression.  The appropriate occasion, amount and method is the student’s decision.


Students who demonstrate outstanding passion and commitment to CAS, particularly through Service, are recognised each year. CAS is becoming increasingly recognised by universities when considering scholarship awards, as they value the holistic development of the individual and the sense of civic and social responsibility CAS fosters. The student’s CAS portfolio provides a rich testament to this and may be used as part of an application process or curriculum vitae.

Students are expected to share and demonstrate their CAS accomplishments with the Living Academy community through assembly presentations, newsletter articles and (via marketing) in social media publications.

Creating a Personal CAS Plan

The CAS plan must:

  • Include at least one substantial leadership project of over 1 month duration which addresses one or more strand of CAS
  • Include enough sustained CAS experiences/activities (at least five are recommended in addition to the project) to authentically achieve and reflect on each of the Learning Outcomes at least once
  • Use the CAS stages (investigation, preparation, action, reflection and demonstration) as a framework for CAS experiences and the CAS project
  • Demonstrate a reasonable balance across all three strands of CAS
  • Be sustained for at least 18 months to demonstrate commitment, perseverance and a growth mindset
  • Must have a responsible adult supervisor for each activity/project who is not a relative and who can provide a report on participation


  • Create a CAS proposal and personal profile at the end of Year 10 (or Y11) and submit to the CAS Advisor for approval.
  • Enter the CAS plan in your ManageBac Portfolio. All activities and projects must have a detailed description of student involvement and specific responsibilities and identify CAS strands and Learning Outcomes addressed.
  • Complete and upload authentic Reflections on your involvement in CAS, addressing the nominated Learning Outcomes for each experience/project.
  • Gather and upload rich Evidence of participation and completion of each experience/project. Guidelines are in the CAS checklist.
  • Attend monitoring meetings with Connect Teacher over the 18-month CAS program. These will occur at the end of Semesters 1 & 2 in IB1, at the end of Terms 1, 2, 3, 4 and at the CAS sign-off in Term 5 IB2.
  • Participate in three CAS interviews with your Advisor – one at the beginning of the program, one at the end of Year 11 (or Y12) and a final interview upon completion of CAS.


The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program offers a rigorous and holistic educational experience that not only prepares students for academic success but also fosters the development of well-rounded, globally-minded individuals.

Assessment: Assessment is both internal and external, including examinations, coursework, and individual research projects. Students are evaluated on their knowledge, critical thinking, and application of skills.

Holistic Development: Beyond academics, the IBDP focuses on nurturing students’ personal and social development. There is a specific focus on Learning Profiles.  CAS activities, in particular, encourage students to be well-rounded individuals with a commitment to community service.