New Subject Guide overview

By Wednesday, March 4, 2015 No tags 0

Earlier this year the IB rolled out the subject guide.  For those who take May exams, teaching of this new curriculum will commence in Autumn 2015 for first exams in May 2017; for those who take November exams, teaching will commence in Spring 2015 with first exams November 2017.  There are substantial changes to both curriculum and assessment so I thought I’d write a series of blogs to clarify the changes for teachers.  Today I am going to provide an overview of the changes – subsequent blogs will focus on the different aspects of the changes and the difficulty of implementing them.

The overall structure remains the same; we will continue to teach:

  • 1 Prescribed Subject
  • 2 World History Topics
  • 3 sections of the HL regional option (HL students only)
  • Complete one internal assessment

The changes are in the details.  The first one will be to the delight of IB coordinators the world over – we will no longer have Route 1 and Route 2.  The folks who worked on the curriculum review have linked them, giving a greater breadth of subjects that range from Medieval to Modern History.  To do so, the syllabus has been expanded – there are now 5 prescribed subjects, 12 World History topics and 18 HL sections.  It may seem overwhelming, but you can maintain continuity with the current program in a number of places – Hitler does not have to be replaced by Genghis Khan.

The largest curricular changes are to the prescribed subjects, but this is always the case.  There are now 5 PS, and each has two case studies from two different regions that schools are expected to cover.  The World History topics still include 20th century wars; authoritarian regimes and the Cold War, although certain specifics within each of these have been altered somewhat.  And, there will no longer be material for detailed study – schools can cover whichever examples they like and know their students are prepared for the exam.  The fewest changes are in the HL options, but with the move from 12 to 18 sections this is probably enough change for one rotation.

In terms of assessment, teachers are probably nervous about these changes.  The Prescribed Subject assessment is still 4 source-based questions, but the wording has been tweaked and markbands have been provided for some of the lengthier questions to provide clearer guidance on expectations.  Papers 2 is still an essay test, but each topic now only has two broad questions, and essays will be marked out of 15 points.  Paper 3 still has two questions per section, but its essays will also be marked out of 15 beginning in May 2017.

The Internal Assessment is still a historical investigation, but it has been reformulated so that it looks more like a traditional research paper, but there is a section on identification and evaluation of sources and a culminating reflection.  The idea is to have students complete the assignment and reflect on the work that they’ve done.

In the coming blogs for teachers I will look at each component of the curriculum and its accompanying assessment component in greater detail.  The more I read through things, the more I see continuity, rather than change, in the new materials, and I hope you will, too.

3 Comments
  • David Shaw
    June 12, 2015

    Hi Alex, Thanks for this overview – very helpful. I am having trouble finding resources to plan this course as it appears that most of the books to support the new guide have still not been published making planning very problematic. Do you have any advice or suggestions?

  • Az
    June 23, 2015

    In response to David Shaw’s comments, the OUP do an online 30 day trial’ inspection copy'( advance preview) of the textbooks that accompany the new 2017 History Guide ( first exams) . All you need to do is sign up. This is beneficial as opposed for waiting for publishers such as Oxford to release their books late July/August. Good luck.

  • Kate
    January 5, 2016

    Thanks for the above comment about textbooks. My searching online including the OUP inspection copies doesn’t suggest that many new books have yet been announced to accompany the Paper 3 topics. (We are looking at Africa and the Middle East.) Does anyone know which Paper 3 topics will be accompanied by a textbook? Many thanks, Kate

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