Curriculum information of Carey Baptist Grammar School

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Theory of Knowledge

ToK Co-ordinator: Mr Michael Fitzpatrick
P: +61 3 9816 1432 E:

Course Description and Aims

Theory of knowledge (TOK) is a course about critical thinking and inquiring into the process of knowing, rather than about learning a specific body of knowledge. It plays a special role in the IB by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, to make connections between areas of knowledge they study and to become aware of their own perspectives and those of the various groups whose knowledge they share. It is a core element undertaken by all IB students, and schools are required to devote at least 100 hours of class time to the course. The overall aim of TOK is to encourage students to formulate answers to the question how do you know? in a variety of contexts, and to see the value of that question. This allows students to develop an enduring fascination with the richness of knowledge.

The aims of the TOK course are to:

  • make connections between a critical approach to the construction of knowledge, the academic disciplines and the wider world;
  • develop an awareness of how individuals and communities construct knowledge and how this is critically examined;
  • develop an interest in the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives and an awareness of personal and ideological assumptions;
  • critically reflect on their own beliefs and assumptions, leading to more thoughtful, responsible and purposeful lives;
  • understand that knowledge brings responsibility which leads to commitment and action.

Curriculum Model Overview

Knowing about knowing
TOK examines how we know what we claim to know, by encouraging students to analyse knowledge claims and explore knowledge questions in the subjects they study and in society in general. A knowledge claim is the assertion that 'I/we know X' or 'I/we know how to Y', or a statement about knowledge; a knowledge question is an open question about the truthfulness and validity of knowledge. The distinction between shared knowledge and personal knowledge helps students explore the nature of knowledge.
Ways of knowing
While there are arguably many ways of knowing (WOKs), TOK identifies eight specific WOKs: language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory. Students explore a range of ways of knowing, and study four of these in depth - perception, reason, language and intuition.
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: mathematics, the natural sciences, the human sciences, the arts, history, ethics, religious knowledge systems, and indigenous knowledge systems. Students explore a range of areas of knowledge and study six of these eight in depth - natural sciences, mathematics, history, human sciences, arts and ethics.

Assessment at a Glance

Type of Assessment Format of Assessment Weighting
Final Grade (%)
Part 1:
Essay on a prescribed title

One essay on a title chosen from a list of six prescribed titles.

One planning and progress document for each student.

Part 2:

One presentation to the class by an individual or a group (max of three persons); approximately 10 minutes per student.

One written presentation planning document for each student.