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How IB Subject Contents Intersect

So, you’ve embarked upon the journey of choosing your IB subjects. Or, you’re wondering how to get the most out of your study time, without going over the same topics too many times. Well, since IB subjects have a lot of content to cover, it can sometimes be easy to get tangled up in what you’ve already learnt, and what you need to revisit. 

This is where, for some subjects, the IB works in our favour, providing some overlapping content in multiple subjects. Some of these areas include the following:

Language & Literature + Global Politics/History

I take English Language and Literature, but the intersection of content is the same no matter the language. Group 3 subjects that are heavily based on writing and case studies. This means that they have the best compatibility with subjects similar to Lang & Lit. They can connect to global issues studied throughout the subject, and the 7 key course concepts. The multiple underpinning themes in Group 3 subjects often have counterparts in Lang & Lit. This allows students to draw links between the two subjects.

For example, I take Global Politics and English A – I’ve studied the situation between Ukraine and Russia in both subjects and connected them to each subject. In English A, I linked the non-literary text types of photojournalism and political cartoons to global issue statements, while using bodies of work from photographers covering Russia and Ukraine.

Language & Literature + Language Acquisition

Language & Literature and Language Acquisition may be one intersection that many people wouldn’t expect to see! In Lang & Lit one of the criteria is to study ‘translated works’. These works consists of poems, books, etc., that have been translated from another language. So, the knowledge that a person has from learning another language carries through to interpreting the differences between works. 

A language may have a word that can’t be directly translated. Leading to why the poem may not have a rhyming scheme. You would know that because you might have tried to translate words that have no meaning in another language. For instance, ‘off’ doesn’t have a direct translation into French, it’s most commonly translated into the preposition of ‘de’.

Design Technology + Mathematics

Mathematics overlaps with Design Technology in various ways. Topic 3.2 is ‘Graphical Modelling’ that uses scale and orthographic drawings, which involves calculating degrees, scaling and measuring dimensions. A potential way that Design Technology can overlap with Mathematics can be in one’s IA (Internal Assessment) for Mathematics.

Biology + Environmental Systems And Societies (ESS)

For the other subjects, they have a broad intersection. However, for Biology and ESS, they have a more specific crossover. Topic 4 in Biology intersects with parts of Topics 2, 3 and 7 in the ESS Course because they have the overlapping features of climate change, biodiversity, and ecosystems. So, since the content in the ESS course is spread out over a couple of topics, to quickly summarise and make connections between topics, one can look at Topic 4 of Biology.

Theatre + EE

Theatre students must write a ‘Director’s Notebook’, in which they choose a theatrical text that they want to explore and research in-depth, then choose parts of the play and decide how to stage them. This work culminates in roughly a 20-page document of their journey. Most theatre students will write a Director’s Notebook in Pre-IB, a practice in DP1 and then a final.

So, what else does thoroughly exploring a research question over a time period and then writing about it sound like? You guessed it – the Extended Essay. Theatre students will be very prepared for their EE’s because of the overlap that means that they write detailed works regularly.

All Subjects + TOK

Finally, TOK. Every subject is designed to make us think outside the box and question what we’ve learnt. So, even though we have dedicated TOK classes, TOK is all around us – making us think about how we know, what we know. That’s what makes TOK the most intersectional subject, you never know when it might pop up! Global Politics mentions conflict throughout the course, so the questioning of the ethics of conflict and war are always very front of mind when thinking of ethics in TOK. For Mathematics, a TOK-related question from my maths textbook is ‘How might knowledge of probability theory affect decisions you make’ – and, you know you’re doing the IB when TOK prompts pop up in your textbooks!

While the IB is a juggling act between 6 subjects and Inner Core as well as extracurriculars, it’s also very manageable with the help of intersections between subjects. I hope this helps to provide an insight into how you can maximise study or prepare for the IB.


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