Theory of Knowledge (TOK) develops a coherent approach to learning that unifies the academic disciplines. In this course on critical thinking, students inquire into the nature of knowing and deepen their understanding of knowledge as a human construction.

TOK is studied over 4 academic terms and is compulsory for all IBDP candidates. The course engages students on a journey that questions the basis of all knowledge. Our programme of study at ISL encompasses the topics Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Art, Ethics, Human Sciences and History as Areas of Knowledge (AoK’s) alongside Perception, Language, Emotion, and Reason as Ways of Knowing (WoK’s).


It is a central objective of the TOK course to identify the problems of knowledge, i.e. the conflicts, paradox and limitations that arise in each area. Students explore the provisional nature of scientific truth through the tentative nature of the evolution of scientific hypotheses. In Mathematics, students explore the nature of numbers and the limits of axiomatic truth, for example, how do we know that the axiom “parallel lines never meet” is true when it cannot be proven?

In this exploratory journey, student groups will discuss and present ideas, recognizing statements as knowledge claims and be able to critically assess new ideas and their limitations and applicability.


There are 2 assessment components for TOK. At the end of their first year, the IBDP Diploma students prepare and present an oral presentation on themes of their own choosing. The presentations are internally assessed. During the second year, students write an essay of 1,200 to 1,600 words on a title chosen from 6 provided each year by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). The essays are externally assessed by the IBO.

Previous TOK Essay questions included the following:

Consider the extent to which knowledge issues in ethics are similar to those in at least one other area of knowledge.
How important are the opinions of experts in the search for knowledge?
“Doubt is the key to knowledge” (Persian Proverb). To what extent is this true in 2 areas of knowledge?
To what extent do we need evidence to support our beliefs in different areas of knowledge?
“There are no absolute distinctions between what is true and what is false”. Discuss this claim.
“Art is a lie that brings us nearer to the truth” (Pablo Picasso). Evaluate this claim in relation to a specific art form, for example, the Visual Arts, Literature or the Theatre.