Arts and Electives

Visual Arts (SL/HL)

Course Description

The IB Diploma Programme visual arts course encourages students to challenge their own creative and cultural expectations and boundaries. It is a thought-provoking course in which students develop analytical skills in problem-solving and divergent thinking, while working towards technical proficiency and confidence as art-makers. In addition to exploring and comparing visual arts from difference perspectives and in different contexts, students are expected to engage in, experiment with and critically reflect upon a wide range of contemporary practices and media. The course is designed for students who want to go on to study visual arts in higher education as well as for those who are seeking lifelong enrichment through visual arts.

Syllabus Activities

Theoretical practice
Students will:

  • Examine and compare the work of artists from different cultural contexts. Consider the contexts influencing their own work and the work of others.
  • Look at different techniques for making art. Investigate and compare how and why different techniques have evolved and the processes involved.
  • Explore ways of communicating through visual and written means.
  • Make artistic choices about how to most effectively communicate knowledge and understanding.

Art-making practice
Students will:

  • Make art through a process of investigation, thinking critically and experimenting with techniques.
  • Apply identified techniques to their own developing work. Experiment with diverse media and explore techniques for making art.
  • Develop concepts through processes that are informed by skills, techniques and media.
  • Produce a body of artwork through a process of reflection and evaluation, showing a synthesis of skill, media and concept.

Curatorial practice
Students will:

  • Develop an informed response to work and exhibitions they have seen and experienced.
  • Begin to formulate personal intentions for creating and displaying their own artworks.
  • Evaluate how their ongoing work communicates meaning and purpose.
  • Consider the nature of “exhibition” and think about the process of selection and the potential impact of their work on different audiences.
  • Select and present resolved works for exhibition.
  • Explain the ways in which the works are connected.
  • Discuss how artistic judgments impact the overall presentation.


External assessment tasks    
Task 1: Comparative study ……...…………........... 20%
Students analyse and compare different artworks by different artists. This independent critical and contextual investigation explores artworks, objects and artifacts from differing cultural contexts.
SL: Compare at least 3 different artworks, by at least 2 different artists, with commentary over 10-15 pages.
HL: As SL plus a reflection on the extent to which their work and practices have been influenced by any of the art/artists examined (3-5 pages).
Task 2: Process portfolio ……...…………........... 40%
Students submit carefully selected materials which evidence their experimentation, exploration, manipulation and refinement of a variety of visual arts activities during the two-year course.
SL: 9-18 pages. The submitted work should be in at least two different art-making forms.
HL: 13-25 pages. The submitted work should be in at least three different art-making forms.
Internal assessment task    
Task 3: Exhibition ……...…………........... 40%
Student submit for assessment a selection of resolved artworks from their exhibition. The selected pieces should show evidence of their technical accomplishment during the visual arts course and an understanding of the use of materials, ideas and practices appropriate to visual communication.
SL: 4-7 pieces with exhibition text for each. A curatorial rationale (400 words maximum).
HL: 8-11 pieces with exhibition text for each. A curatorial rationale (700 words maximum).