Diploma and Curriculum
Paths of Study
There are two paths of study at GNS for students in Grades 11 and 12: the full IB Diploma or the IB Diploma Courses route. When making course requests, students are encouraged to consider their own strengths, post-secondary and personal goals, work-life balance and learning needs. Both routes are academically enriched and recognized by post-secondary institutions.
Full IB Diploma
- students complete all BC Ministry of Education and IB Diploma requirements;
- candidates are eligible for a BC Dogwood Diploma and an IB Diploma;
- students select one course from each of the six subject groups (unless no Group 6 (Arts), then double up in Group 3 or 4);
- students select three HL and three SL courses (or four HL and two SL);
- students complete all coursework and IB assessments for each Diploma course culminating in the IB exams in May of Grade 12;
- students complete CAS, ToK and the EE.
IB Diploma Courses
- students complete BC Ministry of Education requirements and individual IB Diploma courses;
- candidates are eligible for a BC Dogwood Diploma and IB course certificates;
- students select five or six courses (a Group 2 second language is required, but optional in Grade 12, although it is encouraged);
- students may choose all SL or all HL courses, or any combination thereof;
- students may take ToK in Grade 11;
- students complete service hours as required by BC Ministry of Education; and
- students complete all coursework and IB assessments for each Diploma course culminating in the IB exams in May of Grade 12.
A unique characteristic of the Diploma Programme, and in many ways the most valuable, is the extension of learning beyond the normal range of classroom subjects. In addition to the six examination subjects, full Diploma students pursue three further requirements: The Extended Essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (ToK), and Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS).
The two-year CAS programme provides a framework for a Diploma candidate’s co-curricular involvement. It is a key component in helping students to discover and maintain balance during the Diploma Programme. As such, students involve themselves in a variety of experiences that link to each of the three strands: creativity, activity and service. CAS experiences build upon activities in which students are already involved and allow them to experience new opportunities. Students create a CAS portfolio under the guidance of the CAS Coordinator, meet seven learning outcomes, and plan and initiate a CAS project. CAS begins in Year 1 (Grade 11) and must be ongoing throughout the two years.
Theory of Knowledge lies at the heart of the IB curriculum. The emphasis is on teaching a problem-solving methodology that is open-minded yet rigorous. In ToK we focus on looking for connections that go across the curriculum. Thus, we might look at a real world issue and ask how it might be approached by a poet as well as by an engineer. Ultimately, ToK aims to produce students who are strong critical thinkers, capable of approaching problems from multiple perspectives.
The Extended Essay is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in independent research under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school), the teacher-librarian and the Diploma Coordinator. It is a substantial piece of writing of up to 4000 words, which enables students to investigate a topic of special interest of their own choosing. During the first year of the process, students choose a topic, research it, meet regularly with their supervisor, and write a first draft.
In the second year of work on their essay, students continue to meet with their supervisors to receive feedback and make final edits. The completed essay is submitted by Thanksgiving.
Andrew Arida, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at UBC, explains how many universities draw equivalencies between IB scores and letter grades.
Extended Essays by GNS Students
The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper. Below are essays written by GNS students.
- How does Oliver Sacks describe his growing understanding of science as a mixture of imagination and human relationships in his memoir, Uncle Tungsten? by Clare Skillman ’16
- Peering Into the Skull: How is the dichotomy of childhood and death explored in The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks? by Sandra Zhou ’16