International Baccalaureate


The IBD is an exciting and popular alternative to A Levels.

You should consider it seriously if you:

  • Are a well-organised student who enjoys a wide range of subjects and activities and who is keen not to narrow your education too early.
  • Want a course that will extend and challenge you personally and intellectually.
  • Want a course that will encourage you to think independently and to speak and write well in more than one language.
  • Want to keep all your university and career options open at 16 plus.
  • Want an international qualification, which is recognised all over the world for your future career.

The IBD is taught worldwide and is internationally recognised and understood by universities and employers as an excellent preparation for further study or employment. It is administered by the International Baccalaureate Organisation, a body which is independent of any government and which has an international perspective.

Varndean College is the only state-run college designated by the Government to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBD) in Brighton & Hove and is now in its eleventh year of running the programme.

Please note; students wishing to study at university abroad should check country specific requirements and the entry requirements of individual universities on the IBO website.

What Does The Course Involve?


You choose one course from each of six subject areas, three at Higher Level and three at Standard Level. The content of Standard Level courses is smaller than that of Higher Level courses. Everyone also follows the core programme, which is made up of:

Extended essay:

4,000 words on a topic of particular interest in any subject

Theory of knowledge:

A study of the foundations of knowledge

Creativity, activity, service:

A programme of extra-curricular activities

David Cobett

Studied: International Baccalaureate Diploma (2012-2014)

Progression: Dentistry, University of Newcastle

Daniel is now in his sixth year studying Dentistry at Newcastle University and was recently named as the UK's top undergraduate dentist for clinical skills after winning The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Dentsply Sirona skills competition.

David says: "I chose Varndean College, predominantly because I was looking for something that would give me an edge in my dental school applications and I found that the extremely successful IB course could offer this. When it came to my application, the interviewers definitely took an interest in the IB, as its breadth indicated that I could handle a university workload. Varndean also runs a dedicated group for prospective medical, dental and veterinary students which I found to be invaluable in helping me through the university application process, offering practice interviews, talks from alumni and universities and advice tailored specifically to my application."

Course Essentials

Courses Available
International Baccalaureate Diploma
Entry Requirements

A mixture of at least 7 GCSEs at Grade 6 or above, including English, Maths and Science. In addition, certain subjects at both Standard and Higher Level have particular subject requirements. For further information please refer to our separate IBD Prospectus.

IBD 2020 Prospectus
How The Course is Assessed
The maximum possible score is 45. In order to pass the Diploma you need 24 points. There are no external examinations at the end of Year 1. All written exams take place in May of Year 2 and the results are published in July. In many subjects there is a substantial amount of coursework and assessed oral presentation. Theory of Knowledge is assessed by an externally-marked coursework essay.
Career Pathways
In 2018, our 42 Diploma students achieved and average of 36.12 points and out of 28 UCAS applicants, 75% had offers at Russell Group universities, including three at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Transferable Skills
The IB Diploma prepares students for success in higher education and to be active participants in a global society.
Other Information

IBD students will have a fuller timetable than A Level students but less written assessment.

Enquiries To
Lee Finlay-Gray: lzg@varndean.ac.uk