International Baccalaureate

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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

Monica Richards

Studied: International Baccalaureate Diploma (2017-2019)

Progression: Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE), King's College, London

Monica is currently studying Philosophy, Politics & Economics at King's College, London having come to Varndean College from Blatchington Mill School to study the International Baccalaureate Diploma. In the summer of 2018, she became runner up in the Politics and Economics category of the New College of Humanities' essay writing competition, in which only 27 students were shortlisted out of 1,800 entires, and in 2019 gained a summer work experience placement working for and shadowing Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas.

She has now just been awarded a place on the International Relations Career Challenge in July 2020 organised by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) in which she is only 1 of 20 students worldwide. In order to gain this outstanding achievement, Monica had to partake in three gruelling competition rounds (submitting her CV, writing 2 essays and a Skype interview with the Founder and Managing Director of Young Professionals United Nations) in which she managed to beat Masters and PhD students!

Monica says: "I primarily chose to come to Varndean due to having heard stellar reviews about the IB. The IB has left me feeling better prepared for university and I feel like a more informed citizen of the world. It allows you to take a step back from the exam and grade-focused GCSE mindset and allows you to think for yourself. Without a doubt, what I enjoyed most was having the opportunity of meeting so many new people."

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 2021 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