IB DP Geography Syllabus aims at

The aims of the Geography syllabus SL and HL are to enable students to:

  • Develop an understanding of the interrelationships between people, places, spaces and the environment

  • Develop a concern for human welfare and the quality of the environment, and an understanding of the need for planning and sustainable management

  • Appreciate the relevance of geography in analyzing contemporary issues and challenges, and develop a global perspective of diversity and change

Geography Syllabus for IB diploma

Syllabus component and the structure of the IBDP Geography Exam

Part 1: Core theme—patterns and change (SL/HL)
There are four compulsory topics in this core theme.
1. Populations in transition
2. Disparities in wealth and development
3. Patterns in environmental quality and sustainability
4. Patterns in resource consumption
Exam Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Weighting: 40%

Section A: Students answer all short‑answer questions. Some include data. (45 marks)

Section B: Students answer one extended response question. (15 marks)

Part 2: Optional themes (SL/HL)
There are seven optional themes; each requires 30 teaching hours.

A. Freshwater—issues and conflicts
B. Oceans and their coastal margins
C. Extreme environments
D. Hazards and disasters—risk assessment and response
E. Leisure, sport and tourism
F. The geography of food and health
G. Urban environments
Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes (SL) and 2 hours for HL
This paper is common to both SL and HL assessment.
(60 marks), Weighting: 35%

Two optional themes are required at SL.
Three optional themes are required at HL.

HL students answer three structured questions (20 marks per question). Some stimulus material is included in the resources booklet.

Part 3: HL extension—global interactions (HL only)
There are seven compulsory topics in the HL extension.
1. Measuring global interactions
2. Changing space—the shrinking world
3. Economic interactions and flows
4. Environmental change
5. Sociocultural exchanges
6. Political outcomes
7. Global interactions at the local level
Duration: 1 hour
Weighting: 20%

Students answer one of three essay questions.
(25 marks)

Fieldwork (SL/HL)
Fieldwork, leading to one written report based on a fieldwork question, information
collection and analysis with evaluation.
(20 hours)
Weighting 25%

on any topic from the syllabus
Written report based on fieldwork. Maximum 2,500 words

IB Learner Profile

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There are four assessment objectives (AOs) for the SL and HL Diploma Programme geography course

1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specified content
–– Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the core theme—patterns and change
–– Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of two optional themes at SL and three optional themes at HL
–– At HL only, demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the HL extension—global interactions
–– In internal assessment, demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a specific geographic research topic

2. Demonstrate application and analysis of knowledge and understanding
–– Apply and analyse geographic concepts and theories
–– Identify and interpret geographic patterns and processes in unfamiliar information, data and cartographic material
–– Demonstrate the extent to which theories and concepts are recognized and understood in particular contexts

3. Demonstrate synthesis and evaluation
–– Examine and evaluate geographic concepts, theories and perceptions
–– Use geographic concepts and examples to formulate and present an argument
–– Evaluate materials using methodology appropriate for geographic fieldwork
–– At HL only, demonstrate synthesis and evaluation of the HL extension--global interactions

4. Select, use and apply a variety of appropriate skills and techniques
–– Select, use and apply the prescribed geographic skills in appropriate contexts
–– Produce well‑structured written material, using appropriate terminology
–– Select, use and apply techniques and skills appropriate to a geographic research question

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

One of the prime aims of the core theme is to provide a broad conceptual introduction to the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals.

wikiphotos MDG-buddinggeo.jpg

Further guidance on IB approaches

Use of case studies and examples
Case studies and examples must be used where appropriate to illustrate content.
A case study is a detailed, located example for discussion or a discursive approach. Ideally, case studies
selected should be recent; that is, they should have occurred within the student’s lifetime and should not
be historical. The use of historical case studies could lead to students losing marks. For example, using the
destruction of Pompeii as an example of volcanic destruction is not recommended.

Geographic models
Students can study models to illustrate concepts relevant to particular topics but examination questions will
not require students to have prior knowledge of any specific model.

Use of maps and diagrams
Students are expected to include well‑drawn, large, relevant maps, sketches, tables and diagrams as often
as applicable. Only metric maps will be used for examinations.
Annotated maps
Examination questions frequently refer to “annotated maps”. Annotating maps requires students to include
comments on the map itself and to place these comments in the relevant locations. Comments must not be
written separately below the map.

Use of calculators
Calculators are not allowed in IB geography examinations.

Geography Syllabus and Subject Guide

IBO's official guide link for detailed information


IBO- Extended Essay Guide in GEOGRAPHY


Glossary for IB DP Students