The Core

Made up of the three required components, the Diploma Programme core aims to broaden students' educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills.

NOTE: The Core components are mandatory for Diploma students but not for Course students.

The three core elements are:

  • Theory of Knowledge, in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
  • The extended essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
  • Creativity, activity, service (CAS), in which students complete a project related to those three concepts.

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) allows students to think critically about what they know.  Students explore the role of language, emotion, perception, and reason in the acquisition of knowledge.  The relationship between the knower (you) and knowledge and information is explored.

Theory of Knowledge students also explore and reflect upon the six areas of knowledge: History, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Human Sciences, Arts and Esthetics, and Ethics.  Students also consider the role of knowledge in several cultures.

Theory of Knowledge is assessed through a presentation and a 1600 word essay.  Both of these components are internally marked and externally assessed by the IBO.  For more information on Theory of Knowledge vist the IBO website.



The Extended Essay is an in-depth investigation into a topic of choice for each student enrolled in the IB Diploma Programme that results in an essay that is to be a maximum of 4000 words.

The Extended Essay is an opportunity for all students to learn researching techniques that will assist them throughout university. As this is an elaborate process, students will be guided and supported by a teacher supervisor. At several points throughout the journey, students will be interviewed by their supervisor and will reflect on their investigation. The Extended Essay should involve approximately 40 hours of research and writing.

At Abbotsford Senior Secondary School, the Extended Essay process is introduced in November of the students grade 11 year and is completed at the end of November of their grade 12 year.

In conjunction with Theory of Knowledge, students could earn a maximum of additional points towards their IB Diploma. See the Assessment section for more information.



CAS is at the heart of the Diploma Programme and is organized around the three strands of creativity, activity and service.  With its holistic approach, CAS is designed to strengthen and extend students’ personal and interpersonal learning. It allows students to demonstrate attributes of the IB learner profile in real and practical ways, to grow as unique individuals and to recognize their role in relation to others.  As a requirement, students are to take part in a range of experiences and at least one project.  We don't prescribe specific experiences or projects to students.  All students should be involved in activities they have initiated themselves.

For more information on CAS, visit our CAS handbook (abbotsford_senior_cas_handbook.pdf) or contact our CAS coordinator, Loreen Craig, at