IB: Understanding TOK


The Theory of Knowledge course (TOK) is one of the central components and requirements of the IB curriculum.
By nature, the course is philosophy-based and challenges the student to examine what they know, and how they know it.

Students will address ‘knowledge issues’ in relation to their other courses to develop a better understanding of the concepts of knowledge and the manner by which such knowledge is acquired.

In addition to examining the core content areas of the IB pro- gram, the TOK course will also examine the ‘Ways of Knowing’ that influence an individual’s understanding and knowledge.

Similar to other IB classes, the TOK curriculum requires several internal/external components that demonstrate the student’s knowledge and understanding of the coursework. For TOK, there are two such assessments: the TOK Essay and TOK Presentation.

The TOK Essay is a 1,200-16,00 word philosophical essay examining one of the prescribed titles provided by the IBO. Each graduating class has their own list of titles from which the student can choose. The essay itself is designed to showcase the student’s ability to apply knowledge issues to their own lives. Essentially, the TOK Essay revolves around the “knower’s”, or student’s, perspective.

The TOK Presentation, the second assessment, is a formal presentation that is prepared individually or in a small group. The presentation requires students to examine current international events and develop their own knowledge issues regarding such events. Then, students will have to analyze and examine these knowledge issues in the context of other global events.

Unlike other IB courses, the TOK class will meet for only forty minutes a day. IB Juniors will attend class during C lunch Monday through Friday and will be excused from their fourth period class 10 minutes early at 12:15.

Also unlike other courses in the IB Programme and at Bryan High School, the TOK course will meet during the spring semester of the student’s junior year and fall semester of their senior year.

In addition, the students will begin their TOK course during the winter FYP period.

Although the organization of the course is abnormal, TOK is still an official class on the student’s transcript and course schedule. Students will receive grades each six weeks for TOK and the class itself will factor in to the student’s GPA on a 6.0 scale.

In approaching the TOK course, students should be pre- pared to challenge their existing viewpoints to better understand the world around them.