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 IB Diploma is taught worldwide and is internationally recognised and understood by universities and employers as 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-funded college designated by the Government to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma in Brighton & Hove and is now in its 14th 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
Monica Richards

Studied: International Baccalaureate

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

Studied: International Baccalaureate

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, IR and Economics category of the New College of Humanities' essay writing competition, in which only 27 students were shortlisted out of 1,800 entries, and in 2019 gained a summer work experience placement working for and shadowing Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas.

Since leaving Varndean, Monica has continued to operate a Depop business which has subsequently led to her being hired by Sussex University to conduct a year-long research project. Her role has entailed researching the role of digital platforms in transforming youth employment opportunities in the UK where the report will be launched in Geneva by the International Organisation of Employers. She has also been elected Chair of the Renew Europe Group in a Model European Parliament, US delegate in a Model United Nations, as well as Minister of Finland in a KCL War Crisis simulation.

In 2020 Monica was also a winner in the NCS Democratic Voice competition, tackling youth loneliness during the pandemic, as well as volunteering for the 93% Club and Project Access that seek to tackle educational inequality in the UK.

Monica says: "The IB provides both breadth and depth into the disciplines offered and openly encourages individual thinking – the perfect stepping stone for university. I especially liked the idea of belonging to a cohort and I formed long-lasting connections as a result. I'd recommend taking a range of subjects to keep your options open: there is nothing more rewarding than cultivating an interdisciplinary mindset during your education. I also couldn’t emphasise more the importance of maintaining your mental health and wellbeing throughout your studies. After graduating from university I'm keen to enter the political sector, particularly in policy writing and implementation, hopefully as part of the Civil Service."


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 2023 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. Both the Extended Essay, and Theory of Knowledge are assessed by an externally marked coursework essay.
Career Pathways
In 2022, IB Diploma students achieved a pass rate of 97%, with an average point score of 36.67, the equivalent of 3 A grades at A Level. 93% of our UCAS applicants received offers for Russell Group universities with two-thirds of the Oxbridge applicants securing their places.
Transferable Skills
The IB Diploma prepares students for success in higher education and to be active participants in a global society.
Enquiries To
Lee Finlay-Gray: