Philosophy Higher Level International Baccalaureate group 3 subject

History, Philosophy and Theology

History, Philosophy and Theology
History, Philosophy and Theology
We are only accepting one application per candidate.

What will you be working towards?

Qualification Type International Baccalaureate Diploma
Qualification Level Level 3
Course type Full Time


The course aims to enable students to:

  • Understand philosophy and develop the skills of thinking independently and creatively 
  • Study, develop and evaluate arguments about the human condition and the universe
  • Examine critically their own experience and ways of thinking
  • Apply philosophical understanding to the diverse world around us 
  • Examine philosophical thinking and cultural perspectives from around the world 

IB Philosophy is special because:

  • It asks for and encourages personal engagement — "I think/feel because....." 
  • It encourages creativity — you use cartoons, pop lyrics, movies, paintings as a starting point for philosophical reflections — you choose and you do philosophy.
  • It's existential — it focuses on the real heart of philosophy by making the core theme address questions about the nature and meaning of human life. 
  • It's international — we study famous continental and British philosophical texts. 


1. Core theme: What is a human being? (standard level and higher level)

The core involves debates about the soul, personal identity, humans as machines, free will and determinism, importance of reason experience emotion, meaning of life, death, gender, existentialism.

2. Optional themes:

a) Theories and problems of ethics (standard level and higher level): examining ethical theories — based on ideas from self-interest, God, duty to the greatest happiness; what is moral sense — natural/cultural? Debates about the meaning of right and wrong; applied ethics — bio-medical and environmental issues, inequality.

b) Philosophy of religion (higher level only): concepts of God, arguments for and against the existence of God, the problem of evil and suffering; religious language, ritual and symbol; religious experience — what is it? debates and interpretations; religion around the world — gender, politics, culture.

3. Study of the French Philosopher Rene Descartes' book 'Meditations' (standard level and higher level):

Explores the concepts of knowledge, the Soul and God. Regarded as one of the most influential philosophical texts ever written. 

How will it be delivered?

Paper 1 — Exam on the core and optional themes

Higher level — 2 hrs 30 mins  40%

  • a) What is a human being? One essay 
  • b) Both optional themes —One essay on each 

Standard level — 1 hr 45 mins  50%

  • a) What is a human being? One essay
  • b) Optional theme: Ethics one essay  

Paper 2 — Exam on the text  1 hr

One essay:  25% of Standard level; 20% of Higher level 


A philosophical analysis of non- philosophical material:  1,600-2,000 words

25% of Standard level;  20% of Higher level

Paper 3 — Exam — philosophical analysis. Higher level only: 1 hr 30 mins 20%

Response to an unseen text about philosophy

Entry requirements

General entry requirements:

International Baccalaureate Diploma:  6 x grade 6 and 2 x grade 5  at GCSE or equivalent.

International Baccalaureate Career-Related Programme:  3 x grade 6 and 2 x grade 5  at GCSE or equivalent.

Your next steps...

We have a strong history of students going on to study Philosophy-related degrees, particularly as the skill set and competencies required dovetail so well with a multitude of disciplines at University.