Planning your course

The History course is perhaps unique amongst the Diploma subjects in the range of content options that it provides for teachers. This creates some great opportunities for planning an exciting curriculum.

Below are some starting points for your planning and on the Possible pathways  page we have suggested some curriculum outlines.



Keep in mind the assessment requirements...

Paper 1: 1 hour document paper with four source-based questions

Paper 2: 1 hour 30 minute essay paper in which students have to answer two essay questions

Paper 3: Higher students only: 2 hour 30 minute essay paper in which students have to answer three essay questions

Internal Assessment: Research Task (20 hours recommended)

In planning a two year course which will enable students to fulfill the assessment requirements, three factors need to be considered: content, concepts and skills which should link together in order to give students an in-depth understanding of the historical content and equip them to answer the different styles of questions on the three papers.

1. Planning the content

There is a wide choice of topics which should allow you to create a flexible programme suited to the interest of the students, the location and cultural setting of the school. You will need to choose one prescribed topic for Paper 1, two world history topics for Paper 2, three in-depth topics from one of the four regions for Paper 3.

(see relevant pages for a description of the content for each of these papers)

Here are some points to consider when planning your content:

  • Both case studies must be covered for the Prescribed Subject that you choose for Paper 1
  • Within each topic for Paper 2, a range of examples and regions need to be covered to allow students to answer comparative style questions
  • Paper 3 for Higher students assesses in-depth knowledge, so students must have a good grasp of detail and you should aim to cover three topics
  • The Internal Assessment (IA) can be on any topic/time period

Ideally, you will be able to construct a course that while covering different regions also has areas of overlap in content between the papers. This will ease the burden on students regarding the amount of content that they have to cover.

For example, you may choose Move to Global War for Paper 1 which will overlap with the content needed for studying the case study Second World War in the Causes and Practices of Wars Topic for Paper 2. It also overlaps with Topic 15 in the European regional Paper 3.

Look at  Possible pathways  for examples of course outlines in which there is overlap between the three papers.

2. Planning around the historical concepts

All content should be linked to one of the six key IB concepts:

  • Change
  • Continuity
  • Significance
  • Causation
  • Consequence
  • Perspectives

3.  Skills: Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATL)

In addition, teachers need to consider ATL in their planning. These are to ensure that students cover a range of skills while covering the content. The five Approaches to Learning are:

  • Thinking skills
  • Communication skills
  • Social Skills
  • Self-management skills
  • Research skills

You will see that we have identified the ATL in each of the activities that we have suggested for each of the topics on this website and we give more explanation of these ATL here: What are ATL? 

Possible pathways

Here are some suggestions of pathways through the IB History syllabus. For each example, we've given an outline of the topics, the case studies, and also the rationale for the choices. Hopefully these...

Resources for teaching the IB history course

Here are some ideas for general resources: textbooks and useful websites. In addition, you will find specific resources listed under each topic.All major publishers now publish books for the IB history...

Starting the course: Preparing students

At the start of the IB course it can be a good idea to do various exercises with students to equip them with some basic historical vocabulary that they will need and/or to give a broad historical sweep...

What are ATL?

All activities on this site are based on different Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATL).A key aim of the IB is to develop the following key learning skills in studentsMany of these skills are interrelated....

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