My daughter is currently studying in Grade 10 in Dubai. She will be writing her IGCSE final exams next year after which she wishes to pursue her higher studies in a school that follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. Right now her subjects are media, computer science, chemistry, physics, economics and art. She's aiming to pursue a degree in designing and/or animation. I would like to know more details about the IB course. Is it difficult compared to the IGCSE? What are the possible alternatives to IB curriculum?
Demi Uchu, Dubai

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is recognised as an academically challenging course that prepares students for university.

Not only is the curriculum rigorous but it also provides a strong foundation for graduates to think critically, synthesise knowledge, reflect on their own thought processes and get their feet wet in interdisciplinary thinking.

Over two years, students need to study six subjects and these could be either at standard or advanced level.

For the diploma, a minimum of three subjects should be at the advanced level. The curriculum has six groups and the student is required to select one subject from each group. The sixth subject could be either from group six or from any of the five groups. The intention is to span the spectrum of knowledge to allow students to study sciences, humanities, arts, languages, literature and mathematics.

In addition, the programme has three core requirements that are included to broaden the educational experience:

a) The extended essay, which requires students to do an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the subjects they are studying.

b) Theory of knowledge is designed to encourage students to understand the nature/type of knowledge.

c) Creativity, action, service requires students to actively learn from their experience beyond the classroom.

A lot of universities recognise the rigour and quality of the IB curriculum and will give credit to students who have pursued the diploma. It is prudent to discuss this in detail with the university.

An alternative to the IB would be for her to continue studying in the same curriculum and pursue A levels. She can do computing, maths and art as she wishes to move to the field of animation/designing.

Also, if she's looking at applying to universities abroad, she needs to start preparing a portfolio, which would be required for applications.