The theory of knowledge (TOK) course plays a special role in the DP by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature, scope and limitations of knowledge and the process of knowing. In this way, the main focus of TOK is not on students acquiring new knowledge but on helping students to reflect on, and put into perspective, what they already know. TOK underpins and helps to unite the subjects that students encounter in the rest of their DP studies. It engages students in explicit reflection on how knowledge is arrived at in different disciplines and areas of knowledge, on what these areas have in common and the differences between them.
The aims of the TOK course are:
- To encourage students to reflect on the central question, “How do we know that?”, and to recognize the value of asking that question.
- To expose students to ambiguity, uncertainty and questions with multiple plausible answers.
- To equip students to effectively navigate and make sense of the world, and help prepare them to encounter novel and complex situations.
- To encourage students to be more aware of their own perspectives and to reflect critically on their own beliefs and assumptions.
- To engage students with multiple perspectives, foster open-mindedness and develop intercultural understanding.
- To encourage students to make connections between academic disciplines by exploring underlying concepts and by identifying similarities and differences in the methods of inquiry used in different areas of knowledge.
- To prompt students to consider the importance of values, responsibilities and ethical concerns relating to the production, acquisition, application and communication of knowledge.
Students are required to complete two assessment tasks for TOK.
- Theory of knowledge exhibition.
- Theory of knowledge essay on a prescribed title.