TOK plays a special role in the Diploma Programme by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge. The task of TOK is to emphasize connections between areas of knowledge and link them to the knower in such a way that the knower can become aware of his or her own perspectives and those of the various groups whose knowledge he or she shares. TOK, therefore, explores both the personal and shared aspects of knowledge and investigates the relationships between them.
Ways of Knowing
The TOK course identifies eight specific ways of knowing (WOKs). They are: language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory.
Areas of Knowledge
Areas of knowledge are specific branches of knowledge, each of which can be seen to have a distinct nature and different methods of gaining knowledge. TOK distinguishes between eight areas of knowledge. They are: mathematics, the natural sciences, the human sciences, the arts, history, ethics, religious knowledge systems, and indigenous knowledge systems. Students must explore a range of areas of knowledge during the course.
There are two assessment tasks in the TOK course: an essay and a presentation.
The essay is externally assessed by the IB, and must be on any one of the six prescribed titles issued by the IB for each examination session. The maximum word limit for the essay is 1,600 words.
Some examples of essay questions:
- “To what extent are areas of knowledge shaped by their past? Consider with reference to two
- areas of knowledge.”
- “ ‘There is no reason why we cannot link facts and theories across disciplines and create a common groundwork of explanation.’ To what extent do you agree with this statement?”
- “There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.”
- “ ‘The task of history is the discovering of the constant and universal principles of human nature.’ To what extent are history and one other area of knowledge successful in this task?”
The presentation can be done individually or in a group, with a maximum group size of three. The TOK presentation requires students to identify and explore a knowledge question raised by a substantive real-life situation that is of interest to them.