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Ib Philosophy Coursework Examples

Internal Assessment

During the second year of the IB Biology HL class,  students have the opportunity to research, design, perform, and write up their own investigation.  This project is known as an internal assessment (IA).  Students will spend 10 hours doing this investigation which will provide 20% of the overall assessment for the IB biology score (the IB score, not the class grade).

There is a large variety and range of possible investigations; each student must complete an investigation that is unique and adequately different from those of other students in the course.  Students can choose from:
  • Traditional hands-on experimental work, if necessary following strict ethical guidelines for both human and animal subjects
  • Database investigationsin which students use a database to obtain data to process and analyse the information for the investigation.
  • Computer simulations in which students process and present the data in such a way that something new is revealed.

The Internal Assessment is assessed (that means ‘graded’) using very strict IB criteria.  All IB science teachers world-wide must use the same criteria and apply them in the same way—quite a challenge!!  To ensure that everyone is following the rules and applying the criteria correctly, schools must send samples of graded student lab reports to IB for monitoring.  If a teacher is being too hard or too soft, that teacher’s marks which were awarded to students will be adjusted accordingly. 

The IB Biology Internal Assessment is graded using five IB Internal Assessment Criteria.  A maximum score of 24 points* is possible, awarded for the following five criteria:  
*The points for the I.A. criteria are IB marks, not class grade book points.  The class grade for the final I.A. report is determined in a similar fashion to the way raw tests and quiz scores are adjusted in IB Biology II.  

You can view the scoring rubric to read the levels of performance and indicators per level. The IB assessment models use mark-bands and advises teachers to use a "best-fit" approach in deciding the appropriate mark for a particular criterion. You can view annotated samples of Internal Assessments here.  

At SHS, the students complete the Internal Assessment during the first semester of the second year of IB Biology.  The entire process takes place outside of class over the course of about 16 weeks.  The IA project is is broken into discrete "chunks" so that students are not overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project and so that there is ample time for asking questions, getting feedback and completing the experiments.  Under no circumstances should a student be procrastinating on this project or surprised by an upcoming deadline.  

What follows are links to the documents used in our class to help development of the final paper.  Please note that each "button" links to the assignment completed by the student.  These assignments are completed roughly 1 week apart from each other, with no class time dedicated to their completion (meaning, this work happens outside of class time).

Helpful resources for topic selection:
Helpful resource for problem question selection:
Helpful resources for background research:
Helpful resource for data collection:
Helpful resource for introduction and methods:
Helpful resources for data analysis:
Helpful resources for data presentation:
Helpful resource for evaluation writing:
Nothing is submitted to the teacher for step 11. 
In addition to electronic submission, the teacher may also request a printed copy of the final IA report.  
A note to teachers and students about the IA:
Everything in steps 1-14 above is scored for completion, roughly 5-10 class lab points per task.  Something small like writing a problem question is worth 5 points, something bigger like the draft of the introduction would be worth 10 points.   The teacher will read and approve every problem question - once it is's approved it is added to the list (which everyone can see) and if it's not approved (because it's too simple, too complex, not ethical, or lame...) then the student will be asked to try again.  A student cannot move on to the next step in the process until they complete the previous step.  Once a problem question has been approved, a student can't change it without discussion with the teacher.  

Common feedback is shared with all students but I, as the teacher, actually only spot check the details of a few of the students work.  For example, if I get 120 draft introductions turned in, I will randomly read 10 in detail - and anonymously share the feedback from those 10 with all 120 students.  Then, for the next section I will repeat with another (different) random 10 students.  I do this because there is absolutely NO WAY to read 120 students "in process" IA work.  Additionally, the IA is an ASSESSMENT and so per IB guidelines I can't be providing specific feedback to individual students.  Students can absolutely talk to me, ask questions, get help.... but it has to be on their initiative not mine. ​​

Philosophy is a systematic critical inquiry into profound, fascinating and challenging questions such as: What is it to be human? Do we have free will? What do we mean when we say something is right or wrong?

These abstract questions arise out of our everyday experiences, and philosophical tools such as critical and systematic thinking, careful analysis, and construction of arguments provide the means of addressing such questions. The practice of philosophy deepens and clarifies our understanding of these questions, as well as our ability to formulate possible responses.

The emphasis of the Diploma Programme philosophy course is on “doing philosophy”, that is, on actively engaging students in philosophical activity. The course is focused on stimulating students’ intellectual curiosity and encouraging them to examine both their own perspectives and those of others. Students are challenged to develop their own philosophical voice and to grow into independent thinkers, in addition to engaging with some of the world’s most interesting and influential thinkers. The course also develops highly transferable skills such as the ability to formulate arguments clearly, to make reasoned judgments and to evaluate highly complex and multifaceted issues.

All students study a core theme entitled “Being Human".  This theme provides an opportunity to explore the fundamental question of what it is to be human. This exploration takes place through a discussion of key concepts such as identity, freedom, and human nature, and through a consideration of questions such as what sets humans apart from other species, where the boundaries of being human lie, and whether animals or machines could be considered persons. Students also develop their skills through the study of other philosophical themes and the close reading of a philosophical text. They also learn to apply their philosophical knowledge and skills to real-life situations and to explore how non-philosophical material can be treated in a philosophical way. HL students also engage in a deeper exploration of the nature of philosophy itself.

Philosophy Syllabus Outline

Core theme
The core theme “Being human” is compulsory for all students.

Optional themes
SL students are required to study one theme from the following list.
HL students are required to study two themes from the following list.
1. Aesthetics
2. Epistemology
3. Ethics
4. Philosophy and contemporary society
5. Philosophy of religion
6. Philosophy of science
7. Political philosophy

Prescribed text
Students are required to study one text from the “IB list of prescribed philosophical texts”, which includes texts from authors as diverse as Plato, Lao Tzu, and Martha Nussbaum.

HL extension: Exploring philosophical activity

HL students are required to undertake a deeper exploration of the nature, function, meaning and methodology of philosophy.

Internal assessment
SL and HL students are required to produce a philosophical analysis of a non-philosophical stimulus such as a poem, film scene, or painting.


Learn more about philosophy in a DP workshop for teachers. 

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