IB Diploma Programme

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a comprehensive two-year curriculum for highly motivated secondary school students. It prepares students for future university studies and allows them to access leading Brazilian and overseas universities. The Diploma Programme prepares students for university by encouraging them to ask challenging questions, learn how to learn, develop a strong sense of their own identity and culture, and develop the ability to communicate with and understand people from other countries and cultures.


The IB Curriculum model divides the subjects into six disciplinary groups, plus three more elements that comprise the DP core. The six subject groups are:


  • Group 1 — Studies in Language and Literature

  • Group 2 — Language Acquisition

  • Group 3 — Individuals and Societies

  • Group 4 — Sciences

  • Group 5 — Mathematics

  • Group 6 — The Arts 


Depending on the individual interests, abilities, and teachers recommendations, students must study 3 subjects at a Higher Level (HL) and 3 subjects at a Standard Level (SL). The HL and SL are part of the IB programme’s ethos of both breadth and depth in the curriculum.


At St. Francis College we offer a wide variety of options and we help the pupils build their Diploma experience by taking into account their interests, skills and university aspirations. Balance is also achieved by allowing the pupils to choose subjects from at least five of the six subject groups. 


St. Francis IB Curriculum model organizes the subjects in the following blocks:

Block 1

  • English Literature 

  • English Language and Literature

  • English B*

Block 2

  • Portuguese Language and Literature

  • Portuguese Literature

  • Portuguese B *

Block 3
Individuals and Societies

  • Brazilian Social Studies✝ * 

  • Economics*

  • History

  • (One subject will move to Group 6)

Block 4

  • Biology

  • Physics

  • Chemistry**

Block 5

  • Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation 

  • Mathematics: analysis and Approaches

Block 6
Arts and Electives

  • Music

  • Visual Arts

  • Spanish Literature

  • Spanish B

  • Geography

  • Chemistry

* Students who select English B cannot select Portuguese B

** Depending on the number of students, this may only run in block 6

✝ Offered only as a standard level subject

 Students can select two subjects from group 1 in which case they need not choose a subject from group 2

Students must select one subject from groups 1 to 5. Brazilian passport holders must choose Portuguese Literature or Language & Literature due to Brazilian educational requirements. Non-Brazilians whose mother tongue is a romance language must also study Portuguese in block 2. The sixth subject can be selected from group six or alternatively be another subject from groups 1 to 4.

Parents and students can find more information about their current options in Managebac.


Parents can refer to the IB Diploma Handbook where further information can be found.


Read about the IB Options 2021-2023.

Acceptance to the Diploma Programme requires student's total fluency in English

EE - Extended Essay

The extended essay is an opportunity for pupils to focus on a subject of interest and learn more about it whilst developing their research skills. The students choose a specific topic within a subject and produce a piece of scholarly research of up to 4000 words. Students learn about the importance of research, academic honesty and organisation. The experience proves invaluable in their university years.

TOK - Theory of Knowledge

Theory of knowledge is the melting pot of the programme; it is an interdisciplinary subject intended to kindle critical thinking and reflection about how we know. The course challenges pupils to question the bases of knowledge and inquire into the nature of knowing. Theory of knowledge is not only a stand-along subject; it is also embedded in all our subjects and different teachers will make connections that will stimulate pupils into reflecting about how it is that knowledge is formed and gained. Theory of knowledge draws on the pupil’s learning in all six subjects, CAS, extended essay and experiences outside of the classroom.

The Core (EE, TOK, CAS)

At the heart of the curriculum programme model sit the three core elements of the Diploma programme. It is no coincidence that they are there. The extended essay, creativity activity service and theory of knowledge, are part of what make the diploma programme distinct, as they aim to develop the pupil’s learning experiences holistically. The Core programmes are all about gaining experience by doing, thinking and reflecting.

CAS - Creativity, Activity, Service

Experiential learning is fundamental in the IB and no other single component embodies this in a better way than CAS. The programme allows the pupil to explore seven learning outcomes through planned activities in the areas of creativity, activity and service to others. CAS is not a student service programme, it is about students discovering and developing new skills and learning how to share those with others for the benefit of all. CAS is an enjoyable yet challenging experience.


At St. Francis students have a CAS advisor, a teacher who helps the pupils develop their programme in a unique way. We expect pupils to be involved in six long term projects and participate in a number of short term activities over an 18 month period. CAS is tailored-made to the interests of students. Students choose those projects that will help them develop new skills and meet their own challenges. 


CAS helps students learn to plan, act and reflect. It will help them learn from decisions taken (both successful and unsuccessful) and hence have more effective planning, more assertive action and a more fruitful reflection. It is a never ending cycle that we hope they will take with them for the rest of their lives.