The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a pre-university assessment and certification often compared to the A Levels. In Singapore, it is usually taken by students in selected JCs or international schools here in their graduating year. Now that the IB programme is an option for Integrated Programme students, more parents and students may be interested in considering it instead of the A Levels.
Wondering about the subjects you can take in the IBDP? And how are the subjects options different from those in at the A Levels?
If you are deciding between the IB or A Level programme, or are deciding your IB subject combination soon, here’s something that will help you. Check out our guide on how the IB subject combination works, or read on to find out more about less-common IB subjects you can take in Singapore!
How different are the IB subjects compared to A Level subjects?
First, you need to understand that the subjects you can take for either exam is dependent on what your country and schools offer. For example, there are over 80 subjects in the A Levels, but you won’t see all of them in your school because of factors like teacher availability and demand.
Since we’re in Singapore, we will focus our comparison on the subjects we can find in Singapore. For the A Levels, the subject options are more concise. The most common subjects are mathematics, the sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), and humanities (economics, history, geography, literature). In some schools, you will also find slightly more niche options like China Studies, Music, Art, Theatre, and Computing.
In the IB, there are similar subjects to the most common A Level subjects. In fact, the two local junior colleges offering IB – St Joseph’s Institution and Anglo-Chinese School Independent – have very similar subject options as most A Level JCs do. However, if you look at international IB schools in Singapore, you’ll find a bit more variety, including subjects such as Global Politics, Philosophy, Psychology, Environmental Systems, and Film Studies.
Less-common IB subjects you can take in Singapore
The Business Management subject at the IBDP gives students insights into the key areas of managing a business across the local, national, and international levels. Concepts are contextualised across a wide range of situations, including various business sectors, social, cultural, and economic environments.
Students will learn about theories, tools, and techniques relating to the main tasks of managing a business, such as human resource, marketing, finance, and operations. Business management will also be explored with an emphasis on how factors like culture, globalisation, innovation, and ethics correlate and affect business decisions.
Besides subject-specific skills like financial analysis, you can expect to take away valuable transferable skills like critical thinking, ethical decision making, planning and strategising.
Philosophy is a subject that deals with abstract questions about the world, like “What does it mean to be right or wrong?” and “What does it mean to be human?” The focus of the IBDP Philosophy syllabus is the topic of “Being Human”, which lead students to question and consider various perspectives such as whether animals and machines can be defined as human.
Students will learn analytical skills and philosophical tools that enable them to construct arguments and develop their own philosophical voice. They will engage with texts by famed philosophers like Lau Tze, Plato, and Martha Nussbaum, as well as analyse a non-philosophical text for its philosophical content.
An optional list of electives include topics like aesthetics, epistemology, and ethics, of which SL students must pick one, and HL students must pick two to study. Through the study of philosophy, students will also sharpen their abilities in argumentation, independent thinking, and critical analysis.