What is Theory of Knowledge?

What is Theory of Knowledge?

Theory of knowledge (TOK) is unique to the IB. It is central to the Diploma programme and learner centered classrooms.  It is part of the Core. Theory of Knowledge is a course that is fundamentally about critical thinking and inquiry into the process of knowing rather than learning a specific body of knowledge. Diploma students are asked to apply the critical thinking skills they acquire in their TOK lessons to all of their subject disciplines. Subject teachers are expected to show how they are integrating TOK thinking in their unit planners.

This section is written in the form of a number of TOK workshops that you can facilitate with your staff to introduce your colleagues to Theory of Knowledge. It asks your staff to engage in the same type of activities that we ask diploma students to do.

Professional Inquiry

Our professional inquiry will explore:

  • How does Theory of Knowledge develop critical thinking skills?
  • What do we mean when we talk about a TOK habit of mind?
  • How can all teachers model and reinforce effective TOK thinking skills into their subjects?

Before facilitating the session it is helpful to recognize that some people ‘get TOK’ quickly, whilst others get it in time with some effort, but a few may always struggle with getting it. TOK teachers talk about the ‘click’ when you suddenly understand what it is all about and from then on it is second nature to think in a TOK way and ask how we know what we think we know. They develop a TOK ‘habit of mind’.


Theory of knowledge guide: First assessment 2015 (IB, 2013). An electronic version can be found here.

Theory of knowledge brief 2015.

IB Diploma Programme Subject Guides

Theory of knowledge: Understanding knowledge issues, (2009). This document is still valid for the new 2013 guide. However, in the new guide 'knowledge issues' has been changed to 'knowledge questions'.

Perspectives on a curious subject: What is IB theory of knowledge all about? Eileen Dombrowski, John Mackenzie, Mike Clarke, IB research paper.


TOK 2022 is a free Theory of Knowledge website based on the revised specification - first teaching 2020, first examination in 2022. An excellent introduction to the revised specification with many hyperlinks to material students and teachers can use. Highly recommended.

Andrew Brown's Theory of Knowledge website provides many helpful activities and explanations. It is easy to access and use. Click HERE.

Theory of Knowledge.net website has a wealth of free resources covering all aspects of TOK. They also have a subscription website. Highly recommended.

http://sohowdoweknow.weebly.com/ - TOK website for IB students.

Breaking down the TOK is a blog by an ex TOK student esplaining what TOK is., A useful blog to share with students.

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