IB - International Baccalaureate

Visual Arts

The visual arts are an integral part of everyday life, permeating all levels of human creativity, expression, communication and understanding. They range from traditional forms embedded in local and wider communities, societies and cultures, to the varied and divergent practices associated with new, emerging and contemporary forms of visual language. They may have sociopolitical impact as well as ritual, spiritual, decorative and functional value; they can be persuasive and subversive in some instances, enlightening and uplifting in others. We celebrate the visual arts not only in the way we create images and objects, but also in the way we appreciate, enjoy, respect and respond to the practices of art-making by others from around the world. Theories and practices in visual arts are dynamic and ever-changing, and connect many areas of knowledge and human experience through individual and collaborative exploration, creative production and critical interpretation. 

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 different 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.  

Supporting the International Baccalaureate mission statement and learner profile, the course encourages students to actively explore the visual arts within and across a variety of local, regional, national, international and intercultural contexts. Through inquiry, investigation, reflection and creative application, visual arts students develop an appreciation for the expressive and aesthetic diversity in the world around them, becoming critically informed makers and consumers of visual culture.  


Distinction between SL and HL  

The visual arts syllabus demonstrates a clear distinction between the course at SL and at HL, with additional assessment requirements at HL that allow for breadth and greater depth in the teaching and learning. The assessment tasks require HL students to reflect on how their own work has been influenced by exposure to other artists and for them to experiment in greater depth with additional art-making media, techniques and forms. HL students are encouraged to produce a larger body of resolved works and to demonstrate a deeper consideration of how their resolved works communicate with a potential viewer.  

The arts aims 

The aims of the arts subjects are to enable students to:  

  • enjoy lifelong engagement with the arts  
  • become informed, reflective and critical practitioners in the arts  
  • understand the dynamic and changing nature of the arts  
  • explore and value the diversity of the arts across time, place and cultures  
  • express ideas with confidence and competence  
  • develop perceptual and analytical skills.  


Visual arts aims  

In addition, the aims of the visual arts course at SL and HL are to enable students to:  

  • make artwork that is influenced by personal and cultural contexts  
  • become informed and critical observers and makers of visual culture and media  
  • develop skills, techniques and processes in order to communicate concepts and ideas.