IB Individuals and Societies 2018-03-17T02:43:58+00:00

IB Individuals and Societies

Studying of these subjects provides for the development of a critical appreciation of human experience and behaviour; the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit; and the history of social and cultural institutions.


Geography in the Diploma Programme is a social science, concerned with the study of individuals and societies. The complexity and changing nature of human society offers a variety of perspectives and methods of study. Geography is concerned with place, and the pursuit of understanding involves constantly asking the questions “where?”, “why?” and “how?”

Through geography we seek to understand the differences in patterns of human distribution, interrelationships between human society and the physical environment, peoples use of the Earth in time and space and how these differences are related to people’s cultures and economies. Geographers focus on the patterns and interactions found on global, national and local scales.

The view of geography presented in the IB syllabus is thematic in organization, human and physical in focus and comprehensive in coverage.


Economics is a dynamic social science, forming part of the study of individuals and societies. The
study of economics is essentially about the concept of scarcity and the problem of resource allocation. Although economics involves the formulation of theory, it is not a purely theoretical subject: economic theories can be applied to real-world examples.

Neither is economics a discrete subject, since economics incorporates elements of history, geography, psychology, sociology, political studies and many other related fields of study. Economics does not exist in a vacuum, because it naturally must consider how economic theory is to be applied in an international context. The scientific approach characterizes the standard methodology of economics. This methodology can be summarized as a progression from problem identification, through hypothesis formulation and testing, arriving finally at a conclusion.

Alongside the empirical observations of positive economics, students of the subject are asked to
formulate normative questions. Encouraging students to explore such questions forms the central focus of the economics course.


Psychology is the rigorous and systematic study of mental processes and behaviour. This subject draws on concepts, methods and understandings from a number of different disciplines. There is no single approach that would describe or explain mental processes and behaviour on its own as human beings are complex animals, with highly developed frontal lobes, cognitive abilities, involved social structures and cultures. The study of behaviour and mental processes requires a multidisciplinary approach and the use of a variety of research techniques whilst recognising that behaviour is not a static phenomenon, it is adaptive, and as the world, societies and challenges facing societies change, so does behaviour.  

Approaches to understanding behaviour

At the core of the DP psychology course is an introduction to three different approaches to understanding behaviour:

  • biological approach to understanding behaviour
  • cognitive approach to understanding behaviour
  • sociocultural approach to understanding behaviour.

The knowledge, concepts, theories and research that have developed the understanding in these fields will be studied and critically evaluated to answer some of the questions being asked by psychologists today. Furthermore, the interaction of these approaches to studying psychology will form the basis of a holistic and integrated approach to understanding mental processes and behaviour as a complex, dynamic phenomenon, allowing students to appreciate the diversity as well as the commonality between their own behaviour and that of others.  The contribution and the interaction of the three approaches can be best understood through the options.

The Options

There are four options in the course. They focus on areas of applied psychology:

  • abnormal psychology
  • developmental psychology
  • health psychology  
  • psychology of relationships.

The options provide an opportunity to take what is learned from the study of the approaches to psychology and put it into the context of specific lines of inquiry, broaden students’ experience of the discipline and develop the students’ critical inquiry skills.

Research Methodologies and Ethics

Surrounding the approaches and the options are the overarching themes of research and ethics. A consideration of both is paramount to the nature of the subject.

Psychologists employ a range of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, in order to test their observations and hypotheses. As a part of the core syllabus, DP psychology promotes an understanding of the various approaches to research and how they have been used in order to critically reflect on the evidence as well as assist in the design, implementation, analysis and evaluation of the students’ own investigations.   

Psychology studies human beings and as such it is paramount that the ethical implications in any line of investigation, and at all points in the course, are fully explored and understood to ensure that ethical guidelines are followed at all times.

Distinction between SL and HL

There are three main distinctions between this course at SL and at HL.

  1. The following extensions to the core approaches are studied at HL only:
  • the role of animal research in understanding human behaviour
  • cognitive processing in the digital world
  • the influence of globalization on individual attitudes, identities and behaviour.

This differentiation is reflected in paper 1 section B of the external assessment.

  1. SL students are required to study one option while HL students study two options. This differentiation is reflected in paper 2 of the external assessment.
  1. Both SL and HL students will be expected to show their understanding of approaches to research in the internal assessment and for criterion D (critical thinking) in paper 1 section B and paper 2 responses.

Additionally, HL students will be directly assessed on their understanding of approaches to research in paper 3 of the external assessment. This will cover both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Through geography we seek to understand the differences in patterns of human distribution, interrelationships between human society and the physical environment, peoples use of the Earth in time and space and how these differences are related to people’s cultures and economies.

IB History at Uplands

IB History at Uplands

Adapted from IBO History Guide (first examinations in 2010)

History is more than the study of the past. It is the process of recording, reconstructing and interpreting the past through the investigation of a variety of sources. It is a discipline that gives people an understanding of themselves and others in relation to the world, both past and present.

IB History is an exploratory subject that poses questions without providing definitive answers. In order to understand the past, students must engage with it both through exposure to primary historical sources and through the work of historians. Historical study involves both selection and interpretation of data and critical evaluation of it. Students of history should appreciate the relative nature of historical knowledge and understanding, as each generation reflects its own world and preoccupations and as more evidence emerges.

A study of history both requires and develops an individual’s understanding of, and empathy for, people living in other periods and contexts. The content of the history course is intrinsically interesting and it is hoped that many students who follow it will become fascinated with the discipline, developing a lasting interest in it, whether or not they continue to study it formally.

History is part of Group 3 ‘Individuals and Societies’ and so shares common aims with other Humanities subjects. In addition to these, the specific aims of the History course are to:

  1. promote an understanding of history as a discipline, including the nature and diversity of its sources, methods and interpretations;
  2. encourage an understanding of the present through critical reflection upon the past;
  3. encourage an understanding of the impact of historical developments at national, regional and international levels;
  4. develop an awareness of one’s own historical identity through the study of the historical experiences of different cultures.

Assessment Structure and Objectives

Diploma Programme History consists of a standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) core syllabus comprising an in-depth study of a prescribed subject and the selection of two topics. Students at Uplands follow route 2 which focuses on the main developments in 20th century world history. At HL students follow an additional in-depth study, which for Uplands is the history of Asia.

The content of the history course is intrinsically interesting and it is hoped that many students who follow it will become fascinated with the discipline, developing a lasting interest in it, whether or not they continue to study it formally.

IB History Sample

The following is a sample of the topics that are likely to be studied by students at Uplands. There may be some variation from year to year depending on the interests and strengths of the class teacher and students.

Not all available topics have been listed here.

Paper 1: Prescribed topics:
Communism in crisis 1976-89

Paper 2: 20th century world history topics.*
Topic 1: Causes, practices and effects of wars.
Topic 3: Origins and development of authoritarian and singe-party states.
Topic 5: The Cold War.
* Students are only required to cover two topics in depth but due to overlap of content it is possible to touch upon a third topic which gives students more options in this exam.

Paper 3 (HL depth study): Aspects of the history of Asia and Oceania.
• The Republic of China 1912-49 and the rise of Communism.
• Imperial Japan: empire and aftermath 1912-1952
• China: the regional superpower from mid 20th century to 2000.

Resource and Document Downloads

Updated on 12 June 2017

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