Understand the new IB History syllabus
The new IB History syllabus is now in effect - find a quick guide to the changes here
The Reflection is a new area, and will be introduced to all IB Diploma IAs going forward...
The changes, at a glance
Removal of teaching routes
New syllabus topics and changes to existing topics
Revised Internal Assessment
Emphasis on concept-based learning
Focus on Approaches to learning skills
The teaching routes have been removed. Standard Level learners now choose:
- 1 prescribed subject, out of a choice of 5
- 2 world history topics, out of a choice of 12
Higher Level learners also study:
- 3 sections of one HL region option from a choice of 4 options
All students still complete an Internal Assessment called The Historical Investigation.
Paper 1 previously consisted of 3 prescribed subjects, each with its own exam. The new syllabus now includes 5 prescribed subjects, each consisting of 2 cross-regional case studies. Students must study one prescribed subject, and within that subject, they must study both of the cross-regional case studies. Students will be examined on only one of the case studies; they may not compare and contrast.
The new prescribed subjects all have specific focuses; these include:
Conquest and its impact
Final stages of Muslim rule in Spain
Conquest of Mexico and Peru (1519-1551)
The move to global war
Japanese expansionism in East Asia (1933-1940)
German and Italian expansionism (1933-1940)
Rights and protest
The Civil Rights movement in the United States (1954-1965)
Apartheid South Africa (1948-1964)
Conflict and intervention
Students previously had to study 2 out of 5 Twentieth Century topics and were examined via essay questions on each of their respective topics of study.
Students now must choose 2 out of a total of 12 world history topics. Each topic studied must consider 2 different case studies. The subject guide provides suggested examples of case studies.
The new exam will include 2 questions per topic. Questions will be broad, and won’t reference specific countries or specific historical figures.
Learners previously studied 1 of 4 HL options, and the teacher focused on 3 of 12 sections within that option. Students still choose 1 Higher Level option, of a choice of four, and teachers now choose 3 of 18 sections within that option.
The new Higher Level Options are:
- History of Africa and the Middle East
- History of the Americas
- History of Asia and Oceania
- History of Europe
The exam will consist of 2 questions from each topic section. Only historical figures and events named in the subject guide will be included on the exam.
The History IA is still worth 25% of a Standard Level learner’s final grade, and 20% of a Higher Level learner’s final grade. It is still evaluated out of a total of 25 possible marks.
The IA is now split into 3 distinct sections:
Identification and evaluation of sources
- Identify a question to investigate
- Choose and analyze 2 sources
- Out of a total of 6 possible marks
- Similar to previous IA sections A & C, with some changes
- Critically analyze the question
- Build and argument using primary and secondary sources
- Out of a total of 15 possible marks
- Similar to previous IA sections B, D & E with some changes
- Comment on the methods used by, and challenges facing, the historian
- Out of a total of 4 possible marks
The Reflection is a new area, and will be introduced to all new IB Diploma Internal Assessments going forward. The Reflection should be about 400 words long and in the History IA, the student might reflect on points like:
- What did the investigation reveal about the historian's methods?
- What challenges did the historian face?
- What were the limitations of the historian's methods?
The IA must be written in prose (no bullet points) and the examiner will stop reading at 2,200 words.
The new subject guide requires teachers to implement a concept-based approach, integrating 6 key concepts into learning. These concepts include:
Helping learners to more clearly connect subject content to wider global themes, concept-based learning enables an active, student-centered approach. It promotes independent thought, strengthening achievement.
Approaches to teaching and learning
Developing big picture, trans-disciplinary skills is also a priority in the new guide. In IB History, this means creating a solid link between factual content, cross-disciplinary concepts and skills. There are 6 specific Approaches to learning skills you must develop:
- Thinking skills
- Research skills
- Communication skills
- Self-management skills
- Social skills
Download our printable guide to the new IB History syllabus