Skip to content ↓

Theory of Knowledge (ToK)

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.  Daniel J. Boorstin 

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) asks the fundamental question of how we know what we know. This is applied to individuals (can we really trust our senses? Is it possible to be immune from biases?) and disciplines (is certainty possible in the natural sciences? Is the knowledge produced by mathematicians fundamentally different to that produced in art?). 

By the end of the course students will be able to draw connections between their subjects and critically evaluate the knowledge claims made in them. 

Course content

TOK classes involve a mix of discussion, debate and reflective activities.  

We begin the course in Year 12 by exploring the Core Theme, Knowledge and The Knower. This involves critically reflecting on the nature of knowledge as a result of individual and collective methods – issues surrounding problems defining knowledge and the questioning of certainty are discussed.  

Following the Core Theme, across the course, we explore the five ‘Areas of Knowledge’ (Natural Science, Human Science, Mathematics, Art and History) and two ‘Optional Topics’ (Knowledge and Technology and Knowledge and Language). In each of these areas we investigate issues surrounding methodology, conflicts and ethics.  


The Exhibition

Students are required to procure three ‘objects’ which best exemplify a knowledge question (chosen from a published list of 35 questions) This is to be accompanied by a 950 word narrative. This is completed in Year 12.  

The Essay

A 1600 word essay chosen from set of 6 prescribed titles published by the IB. Previous essays have included “Do good explanations have to be true?” and “’We know with confidence only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases’. Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.” This is completed in Year 13. 


You have not allowed cookies and this content may contain cookies.

If you would like to view this content please


I really enjoy TOK because it enables you to engage with the ways in which we know what we know, and it's useful as it links into all your other subjects.  Jasmine  

Studying Theory of Knowledge (ToK) is great as it challenges you to always enquire and question why you do things.