“I like how when we learn a unit or topic, we go deeper than what is in the textbook or in the instruction materials. The value that AISM has is a deeper learning in a conceptual field that we get to go through. We go deeper into topics and concepts relating to real world problems and issues- that we come up with solutions for."

Rylan Robb
Grade 10 Learner 

Course Descriptions

GROUP 1 : Studies in Language and Literature


The course is built on the assumption that literature is concerned with our conceptions, interpretations and experiences of the world. The study of literature can therefore be seen as an exploration of the way it represents the complex pursuits, anxieties, joys and fears to which human beings are exposed in the daily business of living.

It enables an exploration of one of the more enduring fields of human creativity, and provides opportunities for encouraging independent, original, critical and clear thinking. It also promotes respect for the imagination and a perceptive approach to the understanding and interpretation of literary works.

Through the study of a wide range of literature, the course encourages students to appreciate the artistry of literature and to develop an ability to reflect critically on their reading. Works are studied in their literary and cultural contexts, through close study of individual texts and passages, and by considering a range of critical approaches. In view of the international nature of the IB and its commitment to intercultural understanding, the course does not limit the study of works to the products of one culture or the cultures covered by any one language. The study of works in translation is especially important in introducing students, through literature, to other cultural perspectives. The response to the study of literature is through oral and written communication, thus enabling students to develop and refine their command of language.

Language and Literature

Language A: language and literature comprises four parts—two relate to the study of language and two to the study of literature.

The study of the texts produced in a language is central to an active engagement with language and culture and, by extension, to how we see and understand the world in which we live. A key aim of the course is to encourage students to question the meaning generated by language and texts, which, it can be argued, is rarely straightforward and unambiguous. Helping students to focus closely on the language of the texts they study and to become aware of the role of each text’s wider context in shaping its meaning is central to the course.

The course aims to develop in student’s skills of textual analysis and the understanding that texts, both literary and non-literary, can be seen as autonomous yet simultaneously related to culturally determined reading practices. The course is designed to be flexible—teachers have the opportunity to construct it in a way that reflects the interests and concerns that are relevant to their students while developing in students a range of transferable skills. An understanding of the ways in which formal elements are used to create meaning in a text is combined with an exploration of how that meaning is affected by reading practices that are culturally defined and by the circumstances of production and reception.

Self-taught Literature

This is a literature course that may be studied in as many as eighty languages. Fifty of these have a prescribed list of authors (PLA). IB promotes respect for the literary heritage of the student’s home language and provides an opportunity for students to continue to develop oral and written skills in their mother tongue while studying in a different language of instruction.

Where no teacher is available, a student may be allowed to study his or her particular language A as a school-supported self-taught language A: literature student (SL only).

GROUP 2 : Language Acquisition ~ Portuguese, French & Spanish

Language ab initio and language B are language acquisition courses designed to provide students with the necessary skills and intercultural understanding to enable them to communicate successfully in an environment where the language studied is spoken. This process encourages the learner to go beyond the confines of the classroom, expanding an awareness of the world and fostering respect for cultural diversity.

The group 2 courses use a balance between approaches to learning that are teacher-centred (teacher-led activities and assessment in the classroom) and those that are learner-centred (activities designed to allow the students to take the initiative, which can also involve student participation in the evaluation of their learning). The teacher is best placed to evaluate the needs of the students and is expected to encourage both independent and collaborative learning. The two modern language courses—language ab initio and language B—develop students’ linguistic abilities through the development of receptive, productive and interactive skills.

The language ab initio course is organized into three themes.

  • Individual and society
  • Leisure and work
  • Urban and rural environment

Each theme has a list of topics that provide the students with opportunities to practise and explore the language as well as to develop intercultural understanding. Through the development of receptive, productive and interactive skills, students should be able to respond and interact appropriately in a defined range of everyday situations. Each language ab initio course has a language-specific syllabus that is used in conjunction with the guide. Language ab initio is available at SL only.

Language B

Language B is an additional language-learning course designed for students with some previous learning of that language. It may be studied at either SL or HL. The main focus of the course is on language acquisition and development of language skills. These language skills should be developed through the study and use of a range of written and spoken material. Such material will extend from everyday oral exchanges to literary texts, and should be related to the culture(s) concerned. The material should be chosen to enable students to develop mastery of language skills and intercultural understanding. It should not be intended solely for the study of specific subject matter or content.

GROUP 3 : Individuals & Societies


History is a dynamic, contested, evidence-based discipline that involves an exciting engagement with the past. It is a rigorous intellectual discipline, focused around key historical concepts such as change, causation and significance.

History is an exploratory subject that fosters a sense of inquiry. It is also an interpretive discipline, allowing opportunity for engagement with multiple perspectives and a plurality of opinions. Studying history develops an understanding of the past, which leads to a deeper understanding of the nature of humans and of the world today.

This is a world history course based on a comparative and multi-perspective approach to history. It involves the study of a variety of types of history, including political, economic, social and cultural, and provides a balance of structure and flexibility. The course emphasizes the importance of encouraging students to think historically and to develop historical skills as well as gaining factual knowledge. It puts a premium on developing the skills of critical thinking, and on developing an understanding of multiple interpretations of history. In this way, the course involves a challenging and demanding critical exploration of the past.

There are six key concepts that have particular prominence throughout the DP history course: change; continuity; causation; consequence; significance; perspectives.


Economics is a dynamic social science. The study of economics is essentially about dealing with scarcity, resource allocation and the methods and processes by which choices are made in the satisfaction of human wants. As a social science, economics uses scientific methodologies that include quantitative and qualitative elements.

The course emphasizes the economic theories of microeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting individuals, firms and markets, and the economic theories of macroeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting countries, governments and societies. These economic theories are not to be studied in a vacuum - rather, they are to be applied to real-world issues. Prominent among these issues are fluctuations in economic activity, international trade, economic development and environmental sustainability.

The ethical dimensions involved in the application of economic theories and policies permeate throughout the economics course as students are required to consider and reflect on human end-goals and values.

The economics course encourages students to develop international perspectives, fosters a concern for global issues, and raises students’ awareness of their own responsibilities at a local, national and international level. The course also seeks to develop values and attitudes that will enable students to achieve a degree of personal commitment in trying to resolve these issues, appreciating our shared responsibility as citizens of an increasingly interdependent world.


Geography is a dynamic subject that is firmly grounded in the real world and focuses on the interactions between individuals, societies and the physical environment in both time and space. It seeks to identify trends and patterns in these interactions and examines the processes behind them. It also investigates the way that people adapt and respond to change and evaluates management strategies associated with such change. Geography describes and helps to explain the similarities and differences between spaces and places. These may be defined on a variety of scales and from a range of perspectives.

Geography is distinctive in that it occupies the middle ground between social sciences and natural sciences. The course integrates both physical and human geography, and ensures that students acquire elements of both scientific and socio‑economic methodologies. Geography takes advantage of its position between both these groups of subjects to examine relevant concepts and ideas from a wide variety of disciplines. This helps students develop an appreciation of, and a respect for, alternative approaches, viewpoints and ideas.

Environmental Systems and Societies

ESS is a complex course, requiring a diverse set of skills from its students. It is firmly grounded in both a scientific exploration of environmental systems in their structure and function and in the exploration of cultural, economic, ethical, political, and social interactions of societies with the environment. As a result of studying this course, students will become equipped with the ability to recognize and evaluate the impact of our complex system of societies on the natural world. The interdisciplinary nature of the course requires a broad skill set from students and includes the ability to perform research and investigations and to participate in philosophical discussion. The course requires a systems approach to environmental understanding and problem solving, and promotes holistic thinking about environmental issues. It is recognized that to understand the environmental issues of the 21st century and suggest suitable management solutions, both the human and environmental aspects must be understood. Students should be encouraged to develop solutions from a personal to a community and to a global scale.

Through the exploration of cause and effect, the course investigates how values interact with choices and actions, resulting in a range of environmental impacts. Students develop an understanding that the connections between environmental systems and societies are diverse, varied and dynamic. The complexity of these interactions challenges those working towards understanding the actions required for effective guardianship of the planet and sustainable and equitable use of shared resources.

ESS is an interdisciplinary group 3 and 4 course that is offered only at standard level (SL). As an interdisciplinary course, ESS is designed to combine the methodology, techniques and knowledge associated with group 4 (sciences) with those associated with group 3 (individuals and societies). Because it is an interdisciplinary course, students can study ESS and have it count as either a group 3 or a group 4 course, or as both. 

GROUP 4 : Experimental Sciences

Nature of science (NOS) is an overarching theme in the biology, chemistry and physics courses.


Biology is the study of life. There are more species alive on Earth today than ever before. This diversity makes biology both an endless source of fascination and a considerable challenge.

An interest in life is natural for humans; not only are we living organisms ourselves, but we depend on many species for our survival, are threatened by some and co-exist with many more. From the earliest cave paintings to the modern wildlife documentary, this interest is as obvious as it is ubiquitous, as biology continues to fascinate young and old all over the world.

Biologists attempt to understand the living world at all levels using many different approaches and techniques. At one end of the scale is the cell, its molecular construction and complex metabolic reactions. At the other end of the scale biologists investigate the interactions that make whole ecosystems function.

Many areas of research in biology are extremely challenging and many discoveries remain to be made. Biology is still a young science and great progress is expected in the 21st century. This progress is sorely needed at a time when the growing human population is placing ever greater pressure on food supplies and on the habitats of other species, and is threatening the very planet we occupy.

Equilibrium within systems: Checks and balances exist both within living organisms and within ecosystems. The state of dynamic equilibrium is essential for the continuity of life.

Evolution: The concept of evolution draws together the other themes. It can be regarded as change leading to diversity within constraints, and this leads to adaptations of structure and function.


Chemistry is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. It is often called the central science, as chemical principles underpin both the physical environment in which we live and all biological systems. Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, chemistry is a prerequisite for many other courses in higher education, such as medicine, biological science and environmental science, and serves as useful preparation for employment.

The study of chemistry has changed dramatically from its origins in the early days of alchemists, who had as their quest the transmutation of common metals into gold. Although today alchemists are not regarded as being true scientists, modern chemistry has the study of alchemy as its roots. Alchemists were among the first to develop strict experimentation processes and laboratory techniques.

Despite the exciting and extraordinary development of ideas throughout the history of chemistry, certain things have remained unchanged. Observations remain essential at the very core of chemistry, and this sometimes requires decisions about what to look for. The scientific processes carried out by the most eminent scientists in the past are the same ones followed by working chemists today and, crucially, are also accessible to students in schools.

At the school level both theory and experiments should be undertaken by all students. They should complement one another naturally, as they do in the wider scientific community. The chemistry course allows students to develop traditional practical skills and techniques and to increase facility in the use of mathematics, which is the language of science. It also allows students to develop interpersonal skills, and digital technology skills, which are essential in 21st century scientific endeavour and are important life-enhancing, transferable skills in their own right.


Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences, as it seeks to explain the universe itself from the very smallest particles—currently accepted as quarks, which may be truly fundamental—to the vast distances between galaxies.

Classical physics, built upon the great pillars of Newtonian mechanics, electromagnetism and thermodynamics, went a long way in deepening our understanding of the universe.

Despite the exciting and extraordinary development of ideas throughout the history of physics, certain aspects have remained unchanged. Observations remain essential to the very core of physics, sometimes requiring a leap of imagination to decide what to look for. Models are developed to try to understand observations, and these themselves can become theories that attempt to explain the observations. Theories are not always directly derived from observations but often need to be created. A general or concise statement about how nature behaves, if found to be experimentally valid over a wide range of observed phenomena, is called a law or a principle.

The scientific processes carried out by the most eminent scientists in the past are the same ones followed by working physicists today and, crucially, are also accessible to students in schools.

At the school level both theory and experiments should be undertaken by all students. They should complement one another naturally, as they do in the wider scientific community. The physics course allows students to develop traditional practical skills and techniques and increase their abilities in the use of mathematics, which is the language of physics. It also allows students to develop interpersonal and digital communication skills which are essential in modern scientific endeavour and are important life-enhancing, transferable skills in their own right.

Physics is therefore, above all, a human activity, and students need to be aware of the context in which physicists work. This can give students insights into the human side of physics: the individuals; their personalities, times and social milieux; their challenges, disappointments and triumphs.

Sports, Exercise and Health Science

The attainment of excellence in sport is the result of innate ability or skill and the dedicated pursuit of a programme of physical and mental training accompanied by appropriate nutrition. Training programme design should not be left to chance. Rather, it should be designed thoughtfully and analytically after careful consideration of the physiological, biomechanical and psychological demands of the activity. This is the role of the sport and exercise scientist, who, regardless of the athletic event, should be equipped with the necessary knowledge to be able to perform this task competently. Furthermore, in a world where many millions of people are physically inactive and afflicted by chronic disease and ill health, the sport and exercise scientist should be equally proficient when prescribing exercise for the promotion of health and wellness.

Scientific inquiry conducted over many decades, has accumulated a vast amount of information across a range of sub-disciplines that contribute to our understanding of health and human performance in relation to sport and exercise. The Diploma Programme course in sports, exercise and health science involves the study of the science that underpins physical performance and provides the opportunity to apply these principles.

The course incorporates the traditional disciplines of anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, psychology and nutrition, which are studied in the context of sport, exercise and health. Students will cover a range of core and option topics and carry out practical (experimental) investigations in both laboratory and field settings. This will provide an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and understanding necessary to apply scientific principles and critically analyse human performance. Where relevant, the course will address issues of internationalism and ethics by considering sport, exercise and health relative to the individual and in a global context.

Environmental Systems and Societies (See information above in Group 3)

GROUP 5 : Mathematics

The nature of mathematics can be summarized in a number of ways: for example, it can be seen as a well-defined body of knowledge, as an abstract system of ideas, or as a useful tool. Mathematics can enter our lives in a number of ways: we buy produce in the market, consult a timetable, read a newspaper, time a process or estimate a length. Mathematics, for most of us, also extends into our chosen profession: artists need to learn about perspective; musicians need to appreciate the mathematical relationships within and between different rhythms; economists need to recognize trends in financial dealings; and engineers need to take account of stress patterns in physical materials. Scientists view mathematics as a language that is central to our understanding of events that occur in the natural world. Some people enjoy the challenges offered by the logical methods of mathematics and the adventure in reason that mathematical proof has to offer.

Math Studies

This course is available at SL only. It caters for students with varied backgrounds and abilities. More specifically, it is designed to build confidence and encourage an appreciation of mathematics in students who do not anticipate a need for mathematics in their future studies. Students taking this course need to be already equipped with fundamental skills and a rudimentary knowledge of basic processes.

Math Standard

This course caters for students who already possess knowledge of basic mathematical concepts, and who are equipped with the skills needed to apply simple mathematical techniques correctly. The majority of these students will expect to need a sound mathematical background as they prepare for future studies in subjects such as chemistry, economics, psychology and business administration.

Math Higher

This course caters for students with a good background in mathematics who are competent in a range of analytical and technical skills. The majority of these students will be expecting to include mathematics as a major component of their university studies, either as a subject in its own right or within courses such as physics, engineering and technology. Others may take this subject because they have a strong interest in mathematics and enjoy meeting its challenges and engaging with its problems.

GROUP 6 : The Arts


Theatre is a dynamic, collaborative and live art form. It is a practical subject that encourages discovery through experimentation, the taking of risks and the presentation of ideas to others. It results in the development of both theatre and life skills; the building of confidence, creativity and working collaboratively.

The theatre course is a multifaceted theatre-making course of study. It gives students the opportunity to make theatre as creators, designers, directors and performers. It emphasizes the importance of working both individually and collaboratively as part of an ensemble. It offers the opportunity to engage actively in the creative process, transforming ideas into action as inquisitive and productive artists.

Students experience the course from contrasting artistic perspectives. They learn to apply research and theory to inform and to contextualize their work. The theatre course encourages students to appreciate that through the processes of researching, creating, preparing, presenting and critically reflecting on theatre—as participants and audience members—they gain a richer understanding of themselves, their community and the world.

Through the study of theatre, students become aware of their own personal and cultural perspectives, developing an appreciation of the diversity of theatre practices, their processes and their modes of presentation. It enables students to discover and engage with different forms of theatre across time, place and culture and promotes international-mindedness.

Visual Arts

The visual arts are an integral part of everyday life, permeating all levels of human creativity, expression, communication and understanding. They range from traditional forms embedded in local and wider communities, societies and cultures, to the varied and divergent practices associated with new, emerging and contemporary forms of visual language. They may have socio-political impact as well as ritual, spiritual, decorative and functional value; they can be persuasive and subversive in some instances, enlightening and uplifting in others. We celebrate the visual arts not only in the way we create images and objects, but also in the way we appreciate, enjoy, respect and respond to the practices of art-making by others from around the world. Theories and practices in visual arts are dynamic and ever-changing, and connect many areas of knowledge and human experience through individual and collaborative exploration, creative production and critical interpretation.

The visual arts course encourages students to challenge their own creative and cultural expectations and boundaries. It is a thought-provoking course in which students develop analytical skills in problem-solving and divergent thinking, while working towards technical proficiency and confidence as art-makers. In addition to exploring and comparing visual arts from different perspectives and in different contexts, students are expected to engage in, experiment with and critically reflect upon a wide range of contemporary practices and media. The course is designed for students who want to go on to study visual arts in higher education as well as for those who are seeking lifelong enrichment through visual arts.

The course encourages students to actively explore the visual arts within and across a variety of local, regional, national, international and intercultural contexts. Through inquiry, investigation, reflection and creative application, visual arts students develop an appreciation for the expressive and aesthetic diversity in the world around them, becoming critically informed makers and consumers of visual culture.


Theory of Knowledge

The TOK course encourages critical thinking about knowledge itself, to try to help young people make sense of what they encounter. Its core content is questions like these: What counts as knowledge? How does it grow? What are its limits? Who owns knowledge? What is the value of knowledge? What are the implications of having, or not having, knowledge? What makes TOK unique, and distinctively different from standard academic disciplines, is its process.

At the center of the course is the student as knower. In TOK students have the opportunity to step back from this relentless acquisition of new knowledge, in order to consider knowledge issues. These often begin from basic questions, like: What do I claim to know [about X]? Am I justified in doing so [how?] TOK activities and discussions aim to help students discover and express their views on knowledge issues. They are introduced to the four ways of knowing: sense perception, language, logic and emotion. Then they explore problems of knowledge arising in each area of knowledge: language, science, history, social science, mathematics and the arts. The course encourages students to share ideas with others and to listen to and learn from what others think. In this process students’ thinking and their understanding of knowledge as a human construction are shaped, enriched and deepened.

The Extended Essay

The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects - normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB diploma. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject chosen. The completion of the written essay is followed by a short, concluding interview, or viva voce, with the supervisor.

At AISM an extended essay evening is held in the 2nd Quarter for a formal handover of the essay to the Director. Each student has an opportunity to reflect on their experience in front of their peers, parents and teachers.

Timeline: 3rd quarter of grade 11 to 2nd quarter of grade 12.

The extended essay forms one of the core requirements for gaining a full IB diploma.

Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)

With its holistic approach, CAS is designed to strengthen and extend students’ personal and interpersonal learning from the PYP and MYP.

The three strands of CAS, which are often interwoven with particular activities, are characterized as follows.

Creativity        Exploring and extending ideas leading to an original or interpretive product or performance

Activity            Physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle

Service            Collaborative and reciprocal engagement with the community in response to an authentic need

Concurrency of learning is important in the Diploma Programme. Therefore, CAS activities should continue on a regular basis for as long as possible throughout the programme, and certainly for at least 18 months - usually 2/3 hours per week.

Successful completion of CAS is a requirement for the award of the IB diploma. CAS is not formally assessed but students need to document their activities and provide evidence that they have achieved seven key learning outcomes.

Graduation OUTCOMES at AISM


Obtaining 25 credits at AISM from grade 9-12 qualifies a student for the AISM High School Diploma, accredited by MSA (Middle States Association). This is formally presented at the graduation ceremony at the end of grade 12. A full transcript of marks from grade 9-12 is also provided.

The following requirements must be met: (1 credit=1 year of class)

  • English; Science; Humanities; Math: 4 credits
  • Foreign Language: 3 credits
  • Electives: 2 credits
  • PE; Fine Arts; Information Technology; Theory of Knowledge:1 credit
  • CAS; Research Paper: Required

All students in grades 9-12, including non-IB DP students, must complete service learning hours to qualify for graduation. The amount of service hours required for graduation is based on the year that a student enters AISM. (As per the AISM Handbook)

Full IB Diploma Programme (DP) Students

Students must complete the following:

  1. Six (6) subjects from the diploma hexagon
    1. Three (3) subjects at higher level (HL)
    2. Three (3) subjects at standard level (SL)
  2. CAS requirements, including reflections on their activities
  3. TOK presentation & essay
  4. Extended Essay
Anticipated IB Diploma Programme (DP) Students

Students must complete the following:

One standard level subject may be completed with internal assessment and exams, one year early. At AISM this is usually the language B subject at the suggestion of the teacher. The student may retake this subject in the second year, if they are not happy with the first results.
The five other subjects are completed in the second year. The Full Diploma being gained in the second year.
The same requirements need to be fulfilled as for the full IB Diploma above.

Diploma Programme (DP) Courses Students

Students must complete the following:

  1. One to six of the subjects can be sat for in an exam session.
  2. The courses can be a mixture of high and standard subjects or just standard levels.
  3. The students complete a research essay.
  4. TOK requirements are met.
  5. CAS requirements must still be met.
  6. CAS, TOK and the EE can be sat as individual subjects to be included on the final certificate.

NB: If the student decides to try for a full IB Diploma, usually after doing well in the courses, then ALL subjects and internal assessment requirements must be repeated.
A student can only appear in three (3) IB Diploma exam sessions.

By taking anticipated this means two exam sessions are taken up.


  • Each Group or subject has a specific set of descriptors that are used by the teacher to determine summative grades.
  • Internal assessment is based on criteria and there are grade boundaries for each subject.
  • Practice exams have a set of grade boundaries too.